In June 2010, management at Timelab, the Geneva laboratory of horology and microengineering with responsibility for the Poinçon de Genève, promised that the criteria for this standard would be revised to reflect twenty-first century requirements. True to their word, these new criteria have just been announced. Companies have until June 2012 to adapt their manufacturing operations to the new requirements of the Poinçon, which originated in a law passed by the Republic and Canton of Geneva in 1886.
Speaking at the press conference for this 125th anniversary, Daniel Favre, President of the Timelab Foundation Council, reminded the audience that this symbol of craftsmanship, which arose from the need for the Geneva watchmakers’ guild to defend themselves against spurious use of the Geneva name, dates back more than a century. “It is probably one of the first recorded measures to prevent counterfeiting. Since then, only slight changes have been made to the Poinçon’s twelve criteria, for the most part relating to the development of materials in terms of reliability.”
Greater customer satisfaction
“The Poinçon de Genève is vital for our canton,” Pierre-François Unger, State Councillor in charge of Regional Affairs, Economy and Health, observed. “A symbol of excellence in research and innovation, it is an authentic guarantee of origin for Genevan watches, which is essential for employment and training in what is a mainstay of our economy.”
Far from being changed, the conditions which have established the Poinçon as the guarantee of savoir-faire and craftsmanship, and a standard of excellence with no equivalent in the world of time measurement, have been strengthened “in order to increase the reliability of the hallmarked timepieces without altering their DNA,” as Patrick Jaton, director of Timelab, pointed out. “The ultimate objective is, of course, higher customer satisfaction with greater added value.” To achieve this, henceforth the Poinçon de Genève will certify the watch in its entirety. The complete objectivity of this process is guaranteed, as it will still be conducted under the control of the École d’Horlogerie de Genève. Timelab will define procedures.
Origin is essential. Watches seeking certification must be assembled, cased and adjusted in the canton of Geneva by companies which are listed on its business register. As for workmanship, all the movement parts and certain external parts are subjected to an initial certification prior to assembly. The watch head will then go through a series of tests targeting water-resistance, accuracy, power reserve and a functional test. Precision will be tested over seven consecutive days in simulated conditions of the watch being worn. At the end of these seven days, the watch must be seen to be accurate to one minute or less. All watch heads must be controlled and results duly recorded. These tests will be carried out by the manufacturer under Timelab’s supervision, and additional staff must be recruited for this purpose.
This new Poinçon de Genève provides us with an even more stringent, more credible certification.
“The Poinçon de Genève is unique in the luxury industry,” concluded Juan-Carlos Torres, President of the Union des Fabricants d’Horlogerie de Genève, Vaud et Valais (UFGVV) and also CEO of Vacheron Constantin. “The time had come to adapt it to current requirements and make it a modern and global standard of excellence. Genevan watchmaking is driven by a constant quest for authenticity. This new Poinçon de Genève provides us with an even more stringent, more credible certification that is a major advantage for what we do. A new era is beginning.” In 2010, 19,197 timepieces were hallmarked with the Poinçon de Genève. Between January and November 9th this year, this figure had already risen to 23,893.