Throughout the world the reputation of Swiss Made watches is unrivalled. Know-how, impeccable quality, aesthetic process, technical innovation: the indication SWISS MADE reflects all this, and much more. Two words which, combined with renowned brands, guarantee the best choice for the consumer in search of a high value timepiece.
But two words that also need resolutely protecting. Firstly because the Swiss Made label is the only true reference in the world of watchmaking, but also because customer satisfaction is at stake.
The Swiss Made label relies not only on considerable intrinsic value, but also on criteria defined by law. At present, the conditions stipulating whether or not a watch or a clock can display this famous label are determined by a Federal ordinance.
The strengthening of the label
Conditions of use have been significantly strengthened in order to better protect the value of the label. The ordinance governing the use of the name Swiss for watches includes a new definition of the Swiss watch not only in response to concerns in the industry, but also to satisfy the requirements of the new Swissness bill passed in 2013.
Means of protection
The FH = Swiss Watch Federation takes action on a daily basis to protect Swiss Made and other geographical indications, such as the name Geneva for example. It is for this purpose that the names Swiss Made and Swiss in particular have been registered as certification marks in the United States and Hong Kong.
Lastly, the Swiss Watch Federation administer registrations of the sign of identification of the producer (SIP), compulsory marking stipulated by the ordinance on the protection of marks.
The new requirements stipulated by Swissness
Swissness is the term which covers revision of the Swiss Federal law on the protection of trademarks and indications of origin. Because conditions governing the use of these indications generally, and the name Swiss in particular, were not hitherto regulated in detail, the Swiss parliament adopted this revision on 21 June 2013.
Swissness introduces new criteria making it possible to determine more precisely the geographical origin of a product or service; in other words, the law stipulates the point at which a product can legitimately claim to be of Swiss origin.
Above all, this new legal basis meets the concerns of consumers around the world, who are prepared to pay more for products marked Swiss made but expect in return, quite rightly, that the major part of such products should be manufactured in Switzerland.
For all these reasons, the watch industry supported the principle of strengthening the criteria underpinning the Swiss Made label from the very start of the legislative process.
The new criteria vary according to categories of products or services. In this instance, Swissness sets a minimum rate of Swiss value of 60% for industrial products, including watches.
For the watch industry, the adoption of Swissness required the update of the existing ordinance, namely the Ordinance of 1971 governing use of the name Swiss for watches. In this ordinance too, the criteria for obtaining the Swiss Made label for watches are being amended and reinforced. It is worth noting that watchmaking and cosmetic industries are at present the only Swiss industrial branches to have such implementing ordinances.
The criteria for strengthening the Swiss made label
Reflecting the mood of its members, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry began a process in 2007 to strengthen the Swiss Made label in the watch industry. This involves making amendments to the ordinance governing use of the name Swiss for watches, more commonly known as the Swiss Made ordinance.
This initiative basically has three objectives:
- to guarantee the long-term credibility and value of the geographical indication
- to guarantee satisfaction on the part of consumers who, when buying a Swiss Made Watch, expect it to correspond to the quality and the reputation of Swiss watchmaking tradition and therefore to be manufactured in Switzerland and to incorporate a high added value of Swiss origin
- to make the law more specific, in order to clamp down more effectively on abuses
The main change introduced by the strengthening of the label consists in specifying a minimum value criterion for the watch, as opposed to the movement only. To be marked Swiss Made, a watch has to meet the requirement of minimum 60% of Swiss value.
Previous requirements, such as the incorporation of a Swiss movement, casing-up and final inspection in Switzerland, remain in place. However, the definition of the Swiss movement adopts a minimum rate of Swiss value of 60% (as opposed to the previous 50%).
New criteria are added to the calculation of Swiss value, such as research and development and certification costs.
The new Swiss Made ordinance entered into force on January 1st, 2017.
Swiss and Swiss made are protected trademarks
For the watch industry, the geographical indications Swiss and Swiss Made are globally acknowledged references. That is why the FH = Swiss Watch Federation spares no effort worldwide to defend them. It takes steps not only to prevent misuse of these indications, but also against applications to register trademarks incorporating Swiss indications which could prove problematic.
In this context, it should be remembered that both in Hong Kong and in the United States –the two largest markets of the Swiss Watch industry – the criterion used to determine the origin of a watch is less strict than the Swiss criteria. In the aforementioned cases, it is the country of origin of the movement that determines the country of origin of the watch.
However it is possible on both these territories to register a geographical indication as a certification mark. This is a mark that the holders themselves do not use but make available to others, provided the rules governing this mark are observed. As a corollary of this right of use, the holder may assert rights accruing from the certification mark in the event of misuse.
It is for this purpose, and to ensure better protection of Swiss and Swiss Made indications, that since 2006 the FH has been the holder of the Swiss trademark in Hong Kong and the Swiss and Swiss Made trademarks in the United States.
Any entity using these indications on watches intended for either market must therefore abide by rules governing use of the certification marks in question. The latter refer expressly to provisions outlined in the ordinance governing use of the name Swiss for watches. Legal proceedings are taken in the event of infringements.
Sourced from The Swiss Watch Federation