Swiss flag
A Swiss flag float on June 5, 2015 above Lake Lucerne in Rutli meadow considered as the birthplace of Switzerland. According to the legend, it was in the Rutli Meadow in 1291 where representatives of the original Swiss cantons, Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden, took an oath to protect one another from the great threat of the era, the Austrians. Now, each August 1st (the reputed date of the Rutli oath) Switzerland celebrates their independence and courageous beginnings. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Mystery watch group to expose industry’s Swiss-made ‘secrets’

A team of anonymous individuals from within the watch industry are behind a campaign to disrupt Swiss watchmaking and the famous ‘Swiss-made’ label by creating what they call a “fully transparent” watch brand.

Members of the Goldgena Project insist their mission is to cultivate a brand that is completely open about its origin, prices and build process. And they plan to expose the “well-kept secrets” of cost price, distributor margins and retailer margins as they work up to the brand’s launch.

The group plans to unveil its first designs in May ahead of a crowdfunding exercise to raise cash for the venture later this year. Its aim is for Goldgena timepieces to be on sale from May 2017.

The emergence of Goldgena comes in response to ongoing industry debate around the true meaning of the term ‘Swiss-made’, with the group claiming watchmakers are guilty of using the moniker even if almost all of a product’s components are made in Asia.

A member of the group told WatchPro that those behind the venture wished to keep their identity secret because they are directly involved in the watchmaking industry, but said their approach was “very serious”.

He said members would reveal themselves in the coming weeks, and that those involved had been serving in the industry for 15 years.

Goldgena claims that the manufacturing process behind its watches will be fully transparent and carry a Total Transparency on Origin (TTO) label. This will serve as an identity card and will be attached to each watch and available online.

The label will indicate “very precisely” the origin of each element and each operation, according to the group. “A platform has been created and will allow anyone to consult the identity card of each model,” it said.

The group has not yet shared any details on the design or positioning of its launch range, except to say that its mission is to create “beautiful mechanical watches at decent prices”.

The group argues that while the regulations that define ‘Swiss made’ items are well-meaning, in theory the practice is widely abused. “Originally this Swiss Made label is a good thing,” it said. “It aims to protect and promote the Swiss know-how and values ​​that are a guarantee of quality worldwide. Unfortunately in practice this is a monumental farce which ultimately misleads consumers.”

It alleges the “majority” of entry and middle range ‘Swiss Made’ watches feature cases, dials and bracelets made in Asia, and movements that have the bulk of components made abroad.

“The law stipulates that at least 50% of the value of all components of the movement must come from Switzerland, but in terms of number of components the proportion is closer to 20%,” the group insisted. “For mechanical movement it is most often balance wheels and springs, along with mainsprings and jewels. The cost of these Swiss Made components easily exceeds the legal threshold of 50%.”

New laws set to be introduced on 1 January 2017 are designed to reinforce the ‘Swiss-Made’ criteria. They stipulate that at least 60% of the cost of a watch as a whole (and not only of its movement) must occur in Switzerland. It also requires that the engineering and prototyping are carried out in Switzerland.

The progress of the Goldgena Project can be tracked HERE.


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