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Join Date:October 23rd 2015Posts:253
What "Swiss" and other markings on a dial actually mean >>>
I posted this on my Facebook, but for those who don't use the book of faces, here it is...
I am asked all the time about the “Swissness” of certain brands or watches, and how a watch that’s not entirely made in Switzerland can bear the marks “Swiss” or “Swiss Made” on the dial. I have also seen a lot of arguments on forums about this as well. The legitimacy of “Swiss” and “Swiss Made” markings on watches has been something of great online controversy, mainly due to information & misinformation spread online over the years. The best answer to the questions of “what defines Swiss Made” and “how should watches & dials be marked” is a very long and drawn out conversation. I’ll begin with an abbreviated version of it, then for those who care to read further, I will detail it in the follow-up below.
If the brand is a US based entity, and they distribute their products to the US, they are governed by US law. As such, they must conform to the US laws on how a watch needs to be marked to reflect its country of origin. Read that part again, because above all else, this is the important factor that most people never talk about, or simply don’t know about.
Here is a direct link to the “Informed Compliance Document” that defines the issues of watch marking for watch manufacturers, written by the agency that enforces it:https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/fi...s/icp055_3.pdf
Pursuant to the “Informed Compliance Document”, it is the movement inside of the watch that determines its “origin”. Brands are required by law to denote this origin on the dials of their watches (page 8 of this document). This is written by the agency charged with enforcing these laws, the US Customs & Border Protection. If a watch contains a Swiss Made movement, “Swiss” should be denoted on the dials. Under the same section it also lists “Swiss Made” as an acceptable term under US law, but many choose to use “Swiss” instead. This does not reflect the use of “Swiss Parts” movements.
So if you question why a brand makes most or all of the watch outside of Switzerland (like Hong Kong for example) and puts the word “SWISS” on their dial, this should have clarified that for you. Many people accuse brands of being deceitful or at the least, misleading, by doing this. In fact they are doing what the law requires. If it has a Swiss movement inside, you are required by US law to put a Swiss marking on the dial and/or caseback in a permanent and conspicuous manner. If it has a Japanese movement inside, they must denote “Japanese” origin on their dial and/or caseback.
Read below for the more detailed explanation:
The explanation of “markings” as set forth by US law is detailed on page 8 of the above mentioned article:
Under 19 U.S.C.1304, as interpreted by Customs, the country of origin of the movement of the watch or clock determines the country of origin of the watch or clock. Although the addition of the hands, dial, or case adds definition to the timepiece, they do not substantially change the character or use of the watch or clock movement, which is the essence of the watch or clock.
*As noted here, it is the MOVEMENT’s country of origin that determines the country of origin for the watch, regardless of where the case/hands/dial or other components are made or assembled.
The movement's country of origin should appear conspicuously and legibly on the dial face or on the outside of the back of the watch or clock.
*As further explained here, the movement’s country of origin must be conspicuously and legibly displayed on either the dial or the caseback (or both if you wish). So if there is a Swiss Made movement inside, the brand is required to display markings to represent Swiss origin on the dial and/or caseback.
Below is the definition for acceptable markings on all watches:
Acceptable markings for watches and clocks consist of just the name of the country of origin or the name of the country of origin preceded by “Made in,” “Product of” or similar words. Also acceptable is the use of the word “Movement” or an abbreviation such as “Mov't” or “Movt” along with the name of the country. Examples of acceptable markings for a watch or clock if the movement is assembled in Hong Kong would be: “Hong Kong,” “Hong Kong Movement,” “Movement Hong Kong,” or “MOVT Hong Kong.” The wording “Swiss Made” is another example of an acceptable marking if the country of origin is Switzerland.
*As we see here, they spell out clearly what the requirements are to satisfy the US laws. In the case where a brand uses a Swiss Made movement, they are required to write one of these things on their dials and/or casebacks:
Product of Switzerland
Made in Switzerland
Let’s say you own a watch brand, and you are headquartered in the US, and distribute your products in the US. Let’s now say that every component of your watch is made in Lithuania, and a Swiss MADE movement is placed inside. According to US law, the dial or caseback must display “Swiss Made”, Swiss”, Swiss Mov’t”, Swiss Movement”, Made in Switzerland” or “Product of Switzerland”. The watch is not Lithuanian, it is Swiss by US law definition.
Swiss law, and the laws of other countries may differ in some ways.
And the Swiss Federation Guidelines that many people often refer to play no actual part in what is legal or illegal anywhere in the world, and particularly in the US.
The Swiss Federation is a governing body over those who have elected to join their federation, and are accepted into it. Like any federation, they are held to a set of rules that are enforced by the organization. These are not government laws, but association rules. If you are NOT a federation member, you are not required to adhere to their rules. Think of it like a Homeowner’s Association. You can choose to live where there is one governing what you do with your property, or choose to live somewhere that has no HOA, and you are not bound by their rules.
The Free Masons for another example, may have some practical “laws” within their organization that I’m unaware of because I’m not a member. Regardless of how well thought out their “laws” are, since I am not a member, I am not required by them, or any agency, to adhere to their rules.
The Swiss federation Guidelines often confuse consumers because they read their organization’s mandates as enforceable law, however they are not. They are very well thought out guidelines, and make a great degree of sense, but they are not laws to be enforced by the US.
Another source for misinformation, or at least confusion, is the classification of movements (Swiss Made or Swiss Parts). Here is how the US law is enforced regarding this:
Where the parts of a movement are from one country, and the parts are assembled into a movement in a second country (the country of origin), the marking on the watch and clock may identify the country where the parts of the movement are made (in addition to the country of origin of the watch or clock), as long as the marking is in compliance with the requirements of 19 CFR 134.46. 19 CFR 134.46 provides that when the name of a place other than the country of origin appears on an imported article or its container, and the non-origin reference may mislead or deceive the ultimate purchaser as to the actual origin of the article, there shall appear, legibly and permanently, in close proximity to such place name, and in at least a comparable size, the name of the country of origin preceded by “Made in,” “Product of” or words of similar meaning. As an example, if the parts of the movement are made in Switzerland and the movement is assembled in China, markings such as “Swiss Parts/Made in China,” “Swiss
Parts/Movement China,” “Swiss Parts/China Movement” are acceptable.
*So basically, if you are using a movement where the parts are sourced from Switzerland, but the movement is actually assembled in China, you must denote that the movement’s country of origin is China.
Last edited by jskelton; 04-13-2016 at 10:29 AM