With more brands re­ly­ing on in-house qual­ity la­bels, El­iz­a­beth Do­err ex­plains how they dif­fer from the tra­di­tional ones

Adore Gems & Timepieces - - FEATURE -

While re­garded as a mark of qual­ity in watch­mak­ing, even the term “Swiss made” is today, a di­luted rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what it used to mean, as only a por­tion of a watch needs to be pro­duced within Switzer­land in or­der to qual­ify for the hall­mark. Aside from this la­bel, the world of haute hor­logerie is dot­ted with many more cer­ti­fi­ca­tions that are much more spe­cific. Th­ese la­bels were en­gi­neered as a sign of as­sur­ance to con­sumers and served as an ad­di­tional point of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion among the brands — pre­sum­ably, a watch is deemed as bet­ter or more ac­cu­rate, when they are ac­com­pa­nied by th­ese qual­ity stamps.

The old­est and prob­a­bly most fa­mous of th­ese la­bels is the Seal of Geneva (Poinçon de Genève), which was cre­ated in 1886.

This historic mea­sure was es­tab­lished as a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion that can only be awarded to Geneva-based watch com­pa­nies with move­ments that are as­sem­bled and reg­u­lated within the can­ton of Geneva. It was a qual­ity seal that was orig­i­nally de­vised to pro­tect the name “Geneva” from abuse by brands out­side of the can­ton that were, more of­ten than not, pro­duc­ing less su­pe­rior time­pieces. The Seal of Geneva — awarded by a com­mis­sion com­pris­ing seven mem­bers who are Swiss cit­i­zens ap­pointed for four-year terms — has been mod­i­fied over the years to re­main cur­rent and rel­e­vant. Watch brands that reg­u­larly re­ceive the Seal of Geneva in­clude Vacheron Con­stantin (since 1909), Roger Dubuis, Chopard and most re­cently, Cartier.

The Seal of Geneva is now part of an or­gan­i­sa­tion known as Time­lab, whose range of ac­tiv­i­ties is ac­cred­ited by four in­ter­na­tional ISO/IEC stan­dards. In ad­di­tion to the Poinçon de Genève, this also in­cludes the Ob­ser­va­toire Chronométrique cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. The self-pre­scribed aim of the in­de­pen­dent and neu­tral Time­lab is to pro­vide po­ten­tial cus­tomers with an ad­di­tional guar­an­tee of qual­ity.

The other qual­ity la­bel widely adopted by watch brands is Switzer­land’s Con­trôle Of­fi­cial Suisse de Chronomètres (COSC), a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion es­tab­lished in

1973 in Switzer­land. The COSC’S stan­dards have been set by in­ter­na­tional agree­ment, which makes them the same whether they are ISO (In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Stan­dard­iza­tion) or DIN (Deutsche

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