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HomeJewellery InsuranceWatch InsuranceHow to Identify a Genuine Swiss Watch

How to Identify a Genuine Swiss Watch

How to Identify a Genuine Swiss Watch

Swiss watches are famous the world over for their superior quality, but what actually makes a watch “Swiss” and how can you tell you are dealing with the genuine article?

There is no doubt that Swiss watches have an enviable reputation throughout the world, a reputation that has been built up over many centuries of dedication to the manufacture of watches and clocks. Swiss manufacturers of whatever description, large and small are proud of their heritage and continue to use the designation “Swiss” on their products, realising that it is a well-established and recognised premier mark of quality.

Needless to say this reputation is stringently guarded by the Swiss government who have passed various laws over the years which permit certain products to be designated as “Swiss” only under certain conditions. The main piece of legislation (Loi sur la protection des marques, LPM) allowed for the enactment in 1971 of the” Ordonnance du 23 décembre 1971 réglant l’utilisation du nom “Suisse” pour les montres”

The law is based on defining Swiss quality relative to the amount of work on a watch actually carried out in Switzerland. The law does permit use of “foreign” parts but states that the fitting out of the watch (the assemblage of the movement with the hands, case, pushers and crown etc.) and the final testing should all take place in Switzerland along with at least 50% of the movement components (value) being manufactured there.

The Swiss Watch

Only when it can be defined as Swiss by the relevant law may the watch carry the indications of Swiss manufacture. A watch can be considered Swiss if:

• Its movement is Swiss.
• The movement is “put together” in Switzerland.
• The manufacturer carries out the final inspection in Switzerland.

Permitted designations are “Swiss made” or “Swiss” as well as the logo of the producer or distributor, you may also see the following: “Suisse”, “produit suisse”, “fabriqué en Suisse”, “qualité suisse” These are usually seen at the six o’clock position on the watch face.

The Swiss Watch Movement

There is also a definition as to what constitutes a Swiss watch movement.

• The movement must be assembled in Switzerland.
• It has been inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland.
• At least 50% of the movement components value (excluding the build cost) must be of Swiss manufacture.

If the movement meets these conditions but the watch itself was assembled outside of the country, then the term “Swiss” may be noted on one of the movement parts. On the watch exterior, the term “Swiss movement” or “movement Suisse” made be used but only if written in full and the words are in the same colour and typeface as the word “Swiss”

The job of “brand protection” falls to the Swiss Watch Federation (Federation de I’Industrie horlogère Suisse FH. The FH uses the above stated law coupled with later laws on the protection of brands and place of origin to rigorously protect the good name of Swiss Watches. Counterfeiting has always been a problem for the watch industry never more than now with the ease of obtaining products via the internet.

Buying Tips.

• If you are buying your watch from a retailer then you shouldn’t have too many problems, the Swiss are particular who they allow to sell their watches and you should expect “high end authorised jewellers” to be selling the products who will supply you with a receipt for payment and a certificate of authenticity.

• If you are buying online, do some research on the retailer and source reviews from previous customers; this is fairly simple using Google.

• Swiss watches are expensive, even if second hand, if the price seems too low , then the watch is probably a fake, there are many retailers online selling watches where it is not apparently obviously you are buying a “replica”

• Having “provenance” is essential for an expensive watch, gone are the days when you could simply tell the quality by the sweep of the second hand, the latest “replica” Swiss watches often have automatic movements and it may be difficult for anyone less than an expert to tell the difference. Beware of any watch being sold without paperwork.

• Many “ replica” Swiss watches will come with tiny errors, often deliberate such as misspellings with the name, slight alterations to the logo or engravings which are of a poor quality. If you get the chance to examine the watch, do so with a magnifying glass and this will help you spot any errors or imperfections.

• Try looking for pictures or reviews of the watch online, this will help you spot any errors.

• Visit the manufactures website. Most have an archive with details of the production watches they have manufactured. In some cases it may be possible to match up serial numbers.

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