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How Swiss should a Swiss watch actually be? After more than a quarter century of intense pondering and negotiation, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) decided in 2007 that, in order for a watch to deserve its “Swiss Made” label, 80% of its mechanical parts had to be Swiss, up from 50% at present.
Four years later, Swiss watch makers have yet to put the 80% target in practice. It now seems they may not have to, as the FH says it is ready to settle instead for a modest 60%. The figure emerged after “numerous discussions with European partners and federal authorities,” said Jean-Daniel Pasche, president of the FH, in an interview this week with Switzerland’s Le Temps. “Various agreements between Switzerland and Europe imposed this percentage,” he added.
Some observers suspect the climb-down is due to fears about hidden protectionist measures among European, especially French competitors. Not all Swiss watch makers, however, are happy about the new agreement.
“The new amendment makes the project a lot less credible,” says Olivier Muller, a consultant in the sector. “The 80% requirement was the main pillar of the reform, and 60% is not that different from 50%.”
Swiss watchmakers of low and mid-priced products, on the other hand, lobbied to keep the original 50% parts quota in place, arguing that reforming the rules might trigger significant job losses. Jean-Daniel Pasche believes the reinforced “Swiss Made” label will have the opposite effect, that of strengthening the country’s industrial base.
Read the full article by Bastien Buss in French.
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