The amendment to trademark law, or Swissness as it is also known, has reached an important stage. The National Council (the lower house of Switzerland's Federal Assembly) has adopted the project - which defines the percentage of production costs that must be incurred in Switzerland for an industrial product to qualify as Swiss-Made - by a large majority. It now falls to the Council of States (the upper house) to take its decision. Meanwhile, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) has made clear that it will not be satisfied with the proposed figure of 60% Swiss-made value for mechanical watches. This umbrella organisation, along with the majority of its members, is petitioning for an 80% threshold that will protect the public from misleading claims and ensure greater authenticity.
"The ball is in our court"
According to Philippe Merk, CEO Audemars Piguet, "we must defend and promote the unique expertise, inventiveness and craftsmanship which have developed in our country over the years." For Jérôme Lambert, CEO Jaeger-LeCoultre, this is about the preservation and future of the branch: "We must do everything within our power to prevent the demise of our industrial fabric. The ball is in our court."
In a word, Swiss-Made must be synonymous with prestige. However, the FH's 80% objective raises several issues, one of which is the question of watch cases. Switzerland doesn't produce enough, and many of the more complex cases are only available from overseas manufacturers. "Most of these products come from the Far East," declared Peter Stas, owner of Frédérique Constant. He is campaigning for legislation that applies only to the movement, where Swiss expertise is really concentrated. Other watch companies, including Mondaine, share his view. Some thirty in all, they have joined forces under the lobby IG Swiss Made to counter the proposal to reinforce Swiss-Made criteria. However, through lack of courage or fear of reprisals, they refuse to reveal their identity, none of which helps see clear in an affair where each of the players argues its point as a matter of life and death.
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