watchmaking, is made in France possible?

Watches from Other EU countries
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watchmaking, is made in France possible?

Post by koimaster » November 29th 2018, 10:02am

A dozen watch brands boast of making watches made in France. Significant commitment or selling point? Difficult to say because if the models are assembled in the Hexagon, the components come from abroad.


The dials, cases, hands and movements of watches made in France can come from Switzerland or China.

The dials, cases, hands and movements of watches made in France can come from Switzerland or China. Florent Tanet for M The World Magazine

At least, the selling point is clear. Routine presents itself as "the world's most made watch brand in the world" . Founded in 2016 by an engineer, Florian Chosson, joined the following year by the creator of the jeans brand 1083, Thomas Huriez, this new brand is part of the dozen watch brands born two years ago who defend the credo of the French origin (Trilobe, Fugue, Akrone, Gustave & Cie ...). Often sold exclusively online or in pre-order on crowdfunding sites, most of their timepieces display a sleek style, made of simple dials, fashionable canvas bracelets, with few additional functions - in short, one perfectly globalized design. Another common point: their price, rather accessible for stamped products of French manufacture - between 300 and 600 €. A tricolor wave surprising, when we know the state of the watch industry in France ...

"Between a French piece and another made in Asia, the difference in price is from one to six. Our supplier of Franche Comté enclosures has factories in China. " Alain Marhic CEO March Lab

Today, it is difficult to find suppliers capable of manufacturing what makes a watch: dials, boxes, needles and movements. The luxury sector has learned the lessons: Cartier, Chaumet, Bell & Ross and Richard Mille all make in Switzerland. From a certain level of the range, the "swiss made" claim is essential because it alone is synonymous with quality and reliability. Would the new children have succeeded where the histories have failed? Let's say rather that they do not hesitate to take advantage of the ambiguities of the label "made in France".

Indeed, to benefit from the name, a product (watchmaker or not) can be satisfied to be assembled in France, final stage which concentrates a flow of pieces produced here and there. The same goes for the "Origine France garantie" label, which is supposedly more restrictive: it requires 50% of production costs to be incurred by French companies. This is not so much, especially since, in a cascade of outsourcing, it is difficult to establish what was manufactured in France and what was simply changed.

With its ten years of existence, the French house March Lab is a pioneer. Alain Marhic, his co-founder and CEO, does the math: "Between a French piece and another made in Asia, the price difference is one to six. Our supplier of Franche Comté enclosures has factories in China. The little hands are there. " The situation is particularly exacerbated on movement, nerve piece. In almost all watches launched under a French label, Japanese Miyota calibers, made in China, or Swiss quartz are inserted. "There is only one watch movement made in France by Pequignet. They announced a price higher than our most expensive watch, " says Alain Marhic. And again, this caliber is not even manufactured in France, it is only designed and assembled. At the very heart of what makes the watch, it is therefore necessary to be content with imperfect citizenship, even facade.

However, France was a major watchmaking country from the end of the Middle Ages until the 1970s, when serial bankruptcies precipitated the end of this flourishing industry, which had Besançon for capital and Lip for fleuron (today, all Lip watches are entirely made in Asia). Wanting to manufacture in France is especially an "ethical" approach , believes Alain Marhic, for whom the marketing argument does not hold: "In store, if we refer to the five criteria that make buying a watch, the made in France is ranked fourth or fifth. This is not the first impetus on our product and price niche. " The national demand is mainly used to hold the attention of the public, such Routine, which " infuses a revolution to the French " . But a watch totally or even
largely made in France remains a wishful thinking, red, white and blue.

David Chokron
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