Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Changes Coming to Hallmark of Geneva for 2012

After 125 years since the legislative body of the Grand Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva established the Geneva Seal, the Foundation Council of TIMELAB – Geneva Laboratory of Horology and Microengineering that hosted the certification of the Geneva Seal since 2009-  is about to overhaul the current requirements for obtaining the "Hallmark of Geneva".

For more details on the Seal of Geneva, please link to "What is a Geneva Seal"

The Geneva Seal was established on November 6, 1886 with a mission to uphold the integrity of the watchmaking business - to guarantee the origin, craftsmanship, durability and expertise. The legislative body of the Grand Council of the Republic and Canton of Geneva saw the Geneva Seal as a crucial step in a watchmaking market of the late 1800's threatened by the multitude of watch forgeries using the name Geneva.  Exactly 125 years later, the Poinçon de Genève, a well established and revered mark of extinction and quality, still defines excellence in movement.  However the time has come for the Poinçon de Genève to define overall excellence as well.
In 2012 the timepiece shall be examined in its entirety. Stringent criteria for the approval of the movement and external components require the submission of 2D drawings; all components of the movement or any additional modules; an assembled movement and/or module and all the external components. This is the first step with which the components  meet the initial criteria for the Poinçon de Genève”. After a manufacturer has successfully obtained approval of the movement and external components, they must submit a complete reference kit of all components of the movement, any additional modules and the external components as well as a  reference movement/module. TIMELAB will then issue an approval report.
Now the Certification Process can begin.  The components are scrutinized and tested to ascertain if the components initially approved in the first phase are identical to this submission.  Intensive inspections are conducted in areas of component inventory, movement assembly and assembled movement inventory.
The criteria for the movements are assessed in a wide range of testing conditions specifically designed to maximize the validity of the assessments.

Assessment investigates factors such as materials - interestingly any watch materials crafted from Polymers are not accepted - here you see where the new requirements are catching up with the technological advancements of the era ;  shaped parts and supplies; strip springs and jumper springs; base plates and plates for additional mechanisms and bridges; jeweling; wheel train; the escapement ; the stud and adjustment index and adjustment system.  After this intensive testing process, the components connecting the movement with the case and dial must adhere to the "Hallmark of Geneva" criteria - better known in horological circles as casing-up.
Additionally, the seal of Geneva must be displayed prominently on one of the components of the movement. It is best if the company includes the serial number as well. The serial number is recorded an entered into a database.
Finally it is time for the inspection of the complete watch, cased-up as the final end product. Factors such as water resistance, accuracy, functional test and power reserve are tested at this stage.
To maintain the reliability of the original testing procedures, the  watch is constantly monitored by the personnel of TIMELAB, who may visit the watch company and the company provides complete access to all production facilities and equipment as well as any data.  TIMELAB may take the "watch-head" at any time back to their lab to perform any other tests.  In addition TIMELAB requires a yearly report of all testing  performed by the watch company, for a period of ten years.
The new certification is available from June 1st, 2012 and all these criteria must be adhered to by June 1st, 2013.

Vacheron Constantin November 2011 Newsletter


  1. Change is always good in a world where everything is moving so fast !

    The main thing would be to communicate more on this Hallmark and allowing more brands to apply despite the region or country of origin.

  2. Good point Marc!
    However one has to wonder whether the changes are instilled to fight the rapid advancements of the era and hang on to tradition or to forge ahead with the flow of modernity.