Recently I had a little discussion about Davosa Argonautic with someone on one of the Facebook watch groups. It’s conclusion pushed me to write a few words about how people perceive Swiss Made label and how it changes their perception about the given watch.
Upfront, I want to stress out that I don’t have any physical evidence on what I’m about to say and it’s only my personal opinion. It all started with one guy asking for a recommendation for his new watch. He proposed three dive watches: Longines Hydroconquest, Steinhart Ocean One Titanium, and Davosa Argonautic. I immediately advised against Davosa because, in my opinion, their Argonautic model is an overpriced Chinese catalogue case product. It didn’t take long for someone to stand in defense of Davosa asking me for proofs. It’s really easy to find various microbrands using exactly the same case as Davosa. Of course I posted the photos but it wasn’t convincing enough for my interlocutor. He happened to own a Davosa Argonautic and strongly disagreed with my views. He started to persuade me that my logic was flawed and therefore, one could argue that Rolex or Omega also use Chinese cases because there are plenty of Rolex and Omega homages out there. He simply couldn’t allow the thought that a watch with Swiss Made label on it could be made of Chinese catalogue parts. He even stated that the watches I mentioned use not the same but very similar cases and he can notice differences in details and superior finishing on his Davosa. Yeah, right.
That got me thinking that this “Swiss Made” label makes many people go crazy about their watches. And it’s hard to blame them. When you spend your hard earned money on a Swiss expensive timepiece you become personally attached to it. The marketing of watch manufactures doesn’t help either. They promise their customers almost a legendary-like quality often underlining the Swiss heritage of their brand or some other mumble-jumble. People fall for it. They never get to know the actual definition of Swiss made label. That’s funny because it is so easy to find even on Wikipedia:
Swiss made is a label used to indicate that a product was made in Switzerland.
From 2017, the legal criteria are:
For food products: 80% of the weight of the raw materials and the essential processing must take place in Switzerland.
For industrial products: 60% of the manufacturing costs and the essential manufacturing step must occur in Switzerland.
For services: the company headquarters and administration must be located in Switzerland.
A watch is considered Swiss, according to the Swiss law if:
its movement is Swiss and,
its movement is cased up in Switzerland and;
the manufacturer carries out the final inspection in Switzerland
Yet people still react with allergy to anyone who has nerve to mention that some of parts of the watch could have been produced in China. What’s wrong with Chinese production in the first place? Literally everything we use was made entirely or partially in China. I remember that there was an American couple who wanted to make an experiment of living 30 days without Chinese made products. They failed miserably, and I think they even wrote a book about it.
It’s my opinion, because of course I don’t have any proofs, but Swiss companies buy some of their watch parts in China to cut their costs. That’s perfectly normal and logical thing to do as long as expected standards are met. However, in many people’s minds it’s still almost heresy! How come that this entry level Swiss brand produces or buys their cases outside Switzerland? Yet there are reports that’s even big players like Omega produce their watch bands in China. Go figure.
That kind of denial of reality has also another dimension. The same people who blindly defend their Swiss made watches are often the ones who belittle microbrands or Japanese watch companies like Seiko or Citizen. They follow the same skewed logic that only Swiss made watches are worthwhile your money and you shouldn’t waste your cash on “some kind of Seiko”. Have you ever heard “it’s just a Seiko” phrase by the way? Surely I did. I don’t even care at the moment, and whenever someone rises this topic I just ignore it and agree with them.
Furthermore, it’s not just us, aware customers, who realize that the “Swiss made” label does not mean what many companies want us to believe. H. Moser & Cie also sees the problem. They are aware that watch companies use the “Swiss made” label to leverage their position on the market. As a part of their manifesto, H. Moser & Cie decided to ditch the “Swiss made” signature from their watches altogether starting from 2017. A bold move for sure. On the other hand, it shows that they are convinced that their brand is strong enough and their products speak for themselves. They even stated that in fact their watches in 95% origin from Switzerland.
To sum up, there is nothing wrong with Swiss watches. There is also nothing wrong with Swiss brands getting supplies for some of the watch parts from outside of Switzerland. I just wanted to point out that we as customers become too attached to products that we buy and we tend to glorify them more than we should. In fact, that’s exactly what companies want us to do. It’s wise to be aware of what we buy and not to be biased because of misleading marketing.