“The branch would be effectively cut in two, between first class made up of luxury watch manufacturers and second class, meaning lower to mid-range categories that would have to relocate production overseas,” declared Ronnie Bernheim, spokesman for the community of interests and boss, with his brother André, of Mondaine Watch. The company, which produces the famous Swiss railways wristwatch, has taken on 70 staff over recent months. “The additional 10% of Swiss production required by Swissness would double retail prices. Instead of CHF 170, the classic Mondaine Swatch would cost close to CHF 350, and the M-Watch 70 instead of 35. It’s unacceptable!”
For example, under “Swissness” rules, the same case that Mondaine has produced abroad, to Swiss quality standards, would cost five to six times more. “If we produced a cheap but mediocre case in Switzerland instead of a quality case abroad, at the end of the day this would be more of a Swiss watch but poorer quality. If the revision goes through, we would have to transfer all our production to our factory in Hong Kong.” The 500 employees at the factory, bought last year, already produce watches for Esprit, Joop and Puma.
Jean-Daniel Pasche, President of the FH (Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry), defends the project. He believes customers are entitled to expect the majority of parts in a Swiss watch to come from Switzerland. As for the Swatch Group, it is giving the proposed new legislation its unconditional support.