The wording was formally adopted in the late 19th century and is unique in that most other countries use the phrase “Made in (Country Name)”. The most obvious place where the label is found is on Swiss watches. The Swiss laws permit the use of the words “Suisse”, “produit suisse”, “fabriqué en Suisse”, “qualité suisse” or the translations, “Swiss”, “Swiss Made”, or “Swiss Movement”. On some older watches, for example, the word “Swiss” appears alone on the dial at the six o’clock position.
There are two discrete sections of the Swiss law that pertain to the use of the name Swiss made. The first law, which applies to all types of Swiss products, is the Loi sur la protection des marques (LPM). The LPM at Article 50 provided the authority for the enactment of the second law, Ordonnance du 23 décembre 1971 réglant l’utilisation du nom «Suisse» pour les montres, relating specifically Swiss watches. The text of either law is available in French, German or Italian, since those are the principal official languages of Switzerland.
Currently the aforementioned Swiss legal standards permit watch brands or watchmakers to label watches Swiss Made under certain legally defined circumstances. These standards have changed over time and were not always codified in the national law, so older watches which bear the mark Swiss Made may not necessarily meet the current legal definition. On the other hand, they might well exceed the current legal definition of Swiss made. Indeed, the current law of the applicability of Swiss made was codified on December 23, 1971.
A Swiss watch
A minimum standard
When reading the standard for the use of the name Swiss made on a watch, the reader must bear in mind that the law does not so much define Swiss made as it pertains to wrist watches, but rather it sets a minimum standard of what is required for a watch to be considered Swiss made. Often the Swissness of a watch is largely dependent on the brand and its reputation and for this reason, among others, the watch industry is stratified over the definition of Swiss made. The Swiss Federal Council modified the ordinance regulating the use of the “Swiss” name for watches in 1995. This revision was explained in a press release entitled Des composants étrangers pour les montres (On foreign parts for watches)
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
Swiss watch movement
A watch movement is considered Swiss if:
- the movement has been assembled in Switzerland and,
- the movement has been inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland and;
- the components of Swiss manufacture account for at least 50 percent of the total value, without taking into account the cost of assembly.