History Of The Imprint Of Geneva-part 1: Few Respondents (1886-1918)

The Geneva Seal is a prestigious mark that guarantees the quality and pedigree of clocks and watches produced in the Canton of Geneva, and has made an important contribution to the brand’s reputation rooted in the beautiful lakeside cities of Switzerland.

A mark of quality or pedigree?

   Back in the early 1880s, the watchmaking industry in Geneva was undergoing major changes. In addition to independent watchmaking workshops struggling to survive, large industrial companies have also emerged, and there are many businessmen operating various types of watches. In addition, competition in Bern and Neuchâtel has become increasingly fierce, with Longines, OMEGA and Zenith gaining significant growth.

Georges Favon, founder of the Mark of Geneva

   In this context, the watchmaking industry in Geneva is surging. On the one hand, some locals seek to protect factory employment in the state, represented by radical politician GeorgesFavon. In October 1885, he stated to the Council of State that ‘the existence of the certification mark is not to guarantee the quality of watches and clocks, but to ensure that watches and clocks are produced in Geneva by artisans in Geneva.’ On the other hand, others wanted to ensure that local products met high quality standards. This is represented by Charles Chalumeau, who is also a radical politician and a partner of silversmith Dolive. During the debate, Charles Chalumeau was supported by the Geneva Watch Manufacturers Association and he asked for the introduction of certification to ‘determine that a watch has all the attributes of a timepiece made using Geneva’s traditional craftsmanship.’

Geneva mark

Birth of the Geneva Seal

   During the meeting on November 6, 1886, a decree on the voluntary control of timepieces was passed as a compromise. Watchmakers may voluntarily submit their watches to the “Official Service for Voluntary Inspection of Geneva Watches” established in the Watchmaking School, which will test the quality of the watches and check the specific technical standards (set by the Management Board of the Service) Make sure the clock is indeed made in Geneva. Clocks that successfully pass the test are awarded the Official Canton of Geneva. The voluntary nature of the inspection also gives the state’s watchmakers and distributors the freedom to conduct production and sales activities.

Geneva Seal Certification

   The 13-member management committee appointed by the Council of State in 1887 includes not only politicians of various tendencies, but also representatives in the field of watchmaking, such as Edouard Sordet, director of the watchmaking school. The definition of ‘watch from Geneva’ that the State Council failed to resolve successfully sparked heated debate during the first meeting of the management committee. Workers’ Party representatives continue to reiterate employment issues, however, the overwhelming majority consider that quality standards are the most important: ”Geneva Clocks’ are not only clocks made in the state, but above all timepieces that meet considerable quality standards, It’s a high-quality product. ‘

Geneva mark

   An order of the Service Management Board stipulated that ‘a movement constructed according to the best practices of the watchmaking industry, and a movement constructed in the direction specified by the Commission to the inspector, will be awarded an imprint,’ and ‘at least by living in Geneva The work done by state artisans involves the following watch parts and watchmaking processes: escapement, boring, gem setting, assembly and adjustment. ‘Similarly, the Commission passed an implementation regulation that specifies the techniques for various production operations Claim.

   However, this restrictive definition of “Geneva clocks” inevitably caused a certain amount of implementation problems, mainly because some manufacturers’ clocks were indeed made in the region, but were rejected for certification because they were too simple. The most appropriate example is Voland & Cie, a watchmaker founded in Geneva. In 1910, Voland & Cie protested to the Commission that the clock’s request for certification was rejected. A member of the committee, after inspecting the relevant timepieces, stated that ‘they agree, the quality of the timepieces is too ordinary and should not be inspected at all.’

Less useful institutions

   An analysis report provides us with a measure of the importance of the service. This report counts the number of movements that were voluntarily submitted for inspection from the service’s opening in 1887 to 1918. It perfectly highlights the service in the local watchmaking industry. Optional role. The average number of watch movements submitted each year is only 475, which is extremely low in terms of the overall production of Geneva, which is almost negligible. In other words, the Geneva mark did not meet the needs of watchmakers.

Number and proportion of watch movements submitted to the Service from 1887 to 1918

   More importantly, not many companies are willing to use the agency’s services. In 1900, although there were 30 in total, the members were mainly individuals rather than workshops. Of these, 21 submitted less than 10 watches, and only two submitted more than 25 watches: watchmaker Louis Bachmann (31) and watch company Haas & Neveux (198). This indicates that only a few individuals or artisans use the agency’s services. (Photo / text watch home compiled by Xu Chaoyang)
History of the Mark of Geneva-Part 2: Patek Philippe Becomes Savior (1918-1990)
History of the Imprint of Geneva-Part III: The Road to Revival (1990 and beyond)