In the fascinating watch world, "Swiss Made" is the magic word. However, by reading this article, you will understand this label is not a guarantee of quality and we will explain why, using concrete examples.
How to obtain the Swiss Made label? By simplifying, the legislation requires:
1: The movement is Swiss Made.
2: The total cost of the watch is at least 60% from Swiss manufactures (but sometimes, the word "manufacture" hides the word "invoicing" inside it and therefore, perhaps, there is some issue of honesty here).
Example of a low-end Swiss-Made watch configuration :
1: Swiss-made movement in "élaboré" version: 78 Euros.
2: Costs of the rests of the watch (Chinese made) + assembly (Swiss): 52 Euros.
The total cost of the watch is 130 Euros. It is even cheaper than the single Bohen Mille-Mer watchband (buckle is not included).
These kinds of watches are sold between 450 and 800 Euros on internet.
So, all Swiss-Made watches in this range of prices are actually Made in China. But that's not really the problem. The real problem is that, 52 Euros is not sufficient for providing a quality case, case back, dial, hands, crown, band and buckle.
This is why the Swiss Made label does not mean that, a Swiss watch is superior to a non-Swiss watch. Some watches with a Miyota movement will offer you a good reliability for less money.
Let's take a symbol of absolute luxury car: a Rolls-Royce, or an Aston-Martin. Do these English brands produce truly English cars? No, even far from it. It is the same for BMW. Today, all production is international, for technology and cost reasons.
With globalisation, many Swiss manufacturers that lost their competitiveness, have been bought by German groups and have been able to come back effective against Chinese factories. How? By accepting the concept of international manufacturing:
1: Superiority of the know-how of Swiss watchmakers.
2: Investments by German partners.
3: Optimization of manufacturing costs, sometimes with a hidden part of Asian manufacturing. But without reducing the quality.
I have lived in Vietnam for 4 years and at that time, I met a Swiss man who has set up a jewelry workshop in the third district in Ho Chi Minh city. One of his clients was one of the biggest jewelers at "Place Vendôme" in Paris. The secret was absolute. Obviously, the goal was to reduce the manufacturing price for an equal quality.
On watch blogs, people sometimes talk about this dark side of the manufacturing process. One says that, there is a manufacturer in New Mexico that works for Rolex. Others say that, they have seen an Omega subcontractor factory based in the Mekong Delta. Is it true? Is it a legend? I don't know, but those who know will not say anything: watchmaking is a closed and secret world.
The only question that can be asked and answered is:
Is the quality of Rolex or Omega watches truly exceptional? And to me, the answer is clear: YES, these two jewels of Swiss watchmaking offer the best to their customers. So, we come back to the example of Rolls and Aston Martin.
At the beginning of our project, we were obsessed with the percentage of Swissness of the watch. One day, by chance, my wife came across an article about the most influential people in Swiss watchmaking. While reading this article, I recognized one person who I had made my first experience with in watchmaking. I was a junior designer, and this college (we'll call "C") was just starting out in the sales department. I sent an email to "C" to congratulate the remarkable professional career and to introduce my project. Fortunately, "C" responded to me quickly and we got back in touch. After talking about Bohen, "C" told us: that is not how you are going to get the best quality result. It is not about 100% Swiss, or not. What is needed is that you seek the best in quality for your customers, while remaining affordable at the price level.
"C" gave us a very concrete example, which will immediately enlighten you:
Our sapphire crystal, Swiss-Made and resistant to 100 ATM, costs 21 Swiss francs.
"C" showed us the same glass, made in China, for 12 US Dollars.
Question: Is the Swiss-made glass better ?
Response from "C": No difference, because it is the same glass. The glass was bought in China, but the processing was done in Switzerland (which makes it Swiss-Made). This is the hidden side that globalization plays in Swiss-Made label.
So, in your opinion, which glass did we choose? The cheapest, to get maximum benefit from you? Or the most expensive, to ensure a greater part of Swissness?
The answer is "neither of them", because "C" introduced us to a Japanese manufacturer that supplies lenses for satellite industry and for major brands of optics. These sapphires are incomparable on quality and specifications. Otherwise, the price of this Japanese glass increased from 21 Swiss Francs to 45 US Dollars. For this price, you have the Rolls-Royce sapphire glasses.
From there, "C" introduced us to the boss of an "engineering office" who is in charge of the manufacturing for a Swiss luxury brand you all know, with selling prices up to 20,000 USD. Working with this office, gave us an access to the biggest brands' subcontractors and our small quantities suddenly were no longer a problem. No doubt that, network matters.
What have these brought to us?
A quality that puts us in the league of the best brands without any compromise.
A price that does not exceed our target.
Confidence in the manufacturing process.
A very high rate of Swissness.
What sacrifices did we have to make?
Our margin went from X3 to X2 (yes, what did you expect? there are no miracles).
The portion of Swissness is smaller because of the Japanese sapphire glass, and also the packaging which will be produced by the Asian subcontractor of several luxury brands.
Thanks to these, we were able to push our works further and bring all the subtleties that define a luxury product: A very pure steel, with aerospace standards. Black Polishes (the most beautiful manual polishing) and use of a special technique for Deep Brushed effects. These are finishes that will be seen and will provide you a feeling of beauty. The same with the movement: even if there is no transparent back-case, our modified and antimagnetic movement will receive pearl bridges and "Côtes de Geneve".
To obtain indexes with only three metal sides, we created a luminescent material in the mass, because the paint was no longer applicable.
For the minutes and hour hands: three coats of Superluminova to obtain the highest intensity, and with embossed and brushed sides. All these details generate the refinement that you will only see in luxury watches, not yet to mention our date magnifier that you will not see anywhere else. After all... Why shouldn't we look for only the best?
Luxury is an art,
Exigency is the heart,
Rarity is the soul.
At the end of April, we will finally be able to unveil the videos, photos and the first reviews of the watch. We are in the last sprint before the finish and there will only be 500 watches in the Ambassador series (at a preferential price).
If one of our Bohen Mille-Mer interests you, we advise you to register right now on our website: we do not know how many members will buy the watch. What’s certain is that, subscribed members will be served first. Our community has surpassed 500 members in the first two months of our creation. Today, our community is several thousand and registrations are increasing every day.
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