New Swiss ‘Watch Quality’ Seal Offered

A new quality mark guaranteeing the quality and accuracy of fine watches will be launched in the Swiss watch industry this year. Unlike two other Swiss quality seals, the new “Qualité Fleurier” seal will be available to any European watch brand that meets its strict criteria, and it will apply to both the movement and components of a watch.

Currently, the “COSC” certificate of the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute is only for Swiss-made watches whose movements qualify as chronometers. The “Poinçon de Genève” (Seal of Geneva) applies only to mechanical movements made by watchmakers in Geneva, Switzerland. Criteria for the new quality seal reportedly will be even stricter than those of the other two.

The new quality seal was announced in August by a private group called the Stiftung Qualité Fleurier, according to the Bieler Tagblatt, a newspaper of Biel, Switzerland, a Swiss watchmaking center. It was confirmed to JCK by Jean-Daniel Pasche, president of the Federation of Swiss Watchmakers, of which Stiftung Qualité Fleurier is a member.

Stiftung Qualité Fleurier is based in Val-de-Travers, in the Swiss canton of Neuenburg. Supporters of the foundation and new mark include luxury watchmakers Chopard and Parmigiana and the Neuenburg canton. According to Pasche and published reports, watches seeking the new quality seal will be certified only after passing what the Bieler Tagblatt calls “very selective quality tests.” These include passing the stringent COSC tests and meeting exacting standards for the watches’ components. Finally, eligible watches will have to pass tests on what the Bieler Tagblatt calls “a high-tech machine, of Swiss creation.”

A technical committee made up of independent experts of various watch firms for Stiftung Qualité Fleurier developed both the qualifying criteria and the specifications for the testing machine. Details on what is required to qualify weren’t yet available at press time. Pasche told JCK that the technical criteria haven’t yet been published, and at press time only a prototype of the test machine had been made.

However, Pashe said the group was keeping the Federation regularly informed on its progress and “will tell us when they are prepared to announce” issuance of the new seal, probably later this year.

Announcement of the proposed new quality mark was met with mixed reactions by prestigious Swiss watchmakers, most of whom have quality tests for their own watches, reported the Bieler Tagblatt. Some questioned the need for another hallmark guaranteeing the quality and precision of fine timepieces and worried that consumers might be confused by the different quality seals. But others suggested that a mark guaranteeing the all-around quality of a watch’s movement and components will benefit smaller, lesser-known luxury watch brands