There are many reports espousing the insidious threat of the Chinese watch making industry on the purity of Swiss watchmakers, but this is the first time I read an article
that claims how China may one day soon become a direct competitor to Switzerland in terms of watch making quality.
Some time back I reported
on the real impact of Chinese made parts being used in some Swiss brands which still calls itself as "Swiss Made" because they are able to do it within limits of the description set by the Swiss regulators. While there had been efforts to clarify this and a campaign to raise that requirement from 50% to 60%, not much success seems to have been achieved.
Rather than wait for some concerted effort, I would suggest that the few honest Swiss brands that continue to make their watches completely in Switzerland to make a daring step forward. Brands that had successfully avoided any foreign or non-Swiss elements in its watches should proudly advertise with a tag line - "100% Designed, Made and Assembled in Switzerland".
Better still, if the regulators are able to certify such claims, it would be a true claim of Swiss craftsmanship. Clearly this would create a two clear groups of brands - those able to claim "100%DMAS", and those who cannot.
Clearly brands with such right of claim would have products that deserve a premium over the pretenders. The problem I believe, is that there would only be a small handful of watch companies that can make such claims. Dufour and Rolex comes to mind.
Michael Porter - the famous author of "Competitive Advantage" theory, used the example of why the Italian shoemakers continue to make economic profits even though they sell the most expensive shoes in the world. Its the competitive advantage of being able to make shoes with the best designs and best materials using the best methods using the best names. No shoe maker in the East can replicate that and thus sustainable competitive advantage of being known as the world's best shoe makers continue to this day. The italian shoemakers do not outsource their production - and similarly, for the sake of quality, branding and competitiveness, Swiss watchmakers must turn around and realise that outsourcing will ultimately destroy their competitive advantage because its no longer sustainable advantage.
In the world of free enterprise, for their sake, I hope that the honest brands who are able to advertise such claims do it soon. Otherwise they may not benefit from the goodwill of being Swiss Made. In the coming years I expect that claim will become harder to make and that the insidious China encroachment will have been too much to stem.
Postscript - I would also would like to make the same suggestion to the German watchmakers as they are facing the same risk threat from the Chinese. "100% Made in Germany" should prove to be of some value and provide a competitive edge as well.