A new quality mark guaranteeing the quality and accuracy of fine watches will be launched in the Swiss watch industry later this year.
Unlike two other Swiss quality seals now in use, the new “Qualité Fleurier” seal will be available to any Swiss or 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 and the “Poinçon de Genève” (or Seal of Geneva), which applies only to timepieces of watchmakers in Geneva, Switzerland.
Criteria for the new quality seal reportedly will be stricter than those of the other two.
Announcement of the new seal of quality was made in August by a private group called the Stiftung Qualité Fleurier, according to 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 hallmark will be certified only after passing what the Bieler Tagblatt calls “very selective quality tests.” These include first passing the stringent COSC tests, and then meeting exacting standards for the watches’ components.
Finally, eligible watches will have to pass tests on what Bieler Tagblatt calls “a high-tech machine, of Swiss creation.”
Both the criteria for the new seal and the specifications for the testing machine were developed by a technical committee, comprised of “independent experts of various watch firms,” for Stiftung Qualité Fleurier.
However, specific details on what is required to qualify aren’t yet available. 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. No final design of the proposed seal has been presented. However, Pashe said the group is 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 has been met with mixed reactions by prestigious Swiss watchmakers, most of whom have their own quality tests for their watches, reports Bieler Tagblatt. Some question the need for another hallmark guaranteeing the quality and precision of fine timepieces, and worry that consumers may be confused by the different quality seals. Others suggest, says Bieler Tagblatt, that a seal guaranteeing the all-around quality of a watch’s movement and components will benefit smaller, lesser-known luxury watch brands.