Watch Industry Feuds Over What Makes Timepieces Swiss-Made

 Watch brand Swiss Mountaineer dons Switzerland’s national flag on the dial of each timepiece. It claims it’s Swiss-made, but with its components made at a factory in Shenzhen, China and the company itself being owned by Hong Kong’s Golden Hawk, is it?

Under Swiss rules, Golden Hawk can label its watches as Swiss-made so long as at least 50 percent of the value of the movement comes from Switzerland.

But the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, along with its most powerful member, Swatch, are out to change those rules as a part of the growing national “Swissness” movement.

The majority of the 500-member federation support the demand for the tighter rules, which would raise the percentage of Swiss-made components to 80 percent of a watch’s total value.

Some of Switzerland’s smaller companies oppose the proposed rule change, warning that the country’s watch sector risks undermining itself by wiping out smaller Swiss players that buy components from China and elsewhere to remain competitive. The small companies probably cannot afford to invest more in local production because of Switzerland’s strong currency and high labor costs.

The Biel-based company Swatch is the world’s biggest watch maker, with a total revnue of &7.8 billion in 2011. Its product include its Watch watches on top of luxury brands like Breguet, Blancpain, Omega and Longines. Almost all of the company’s production occurs in Switzerland, with only minor parts being produced in China, Thailand and Malaysia.

The watch federation drew inspiration from the ‘Swissness’ bill that passed in one of Switzerland’s two parliamentary houses in March. It’s meant to product virtually everything produced in the country against counterfeiting or misleading use of the Swiss brand.

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Source: New York Times

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