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Recent Comments

commented on HOT TAKE 🔥 🔥🔥 ·

Firstly, the article you refer to has misunderstood the FH information. It appears to believe that the process of certifiction has the effect of making foreign-made parts “Swiss”. Certification does not have that effect. The purpose of certification is merely to level up HK laws so that the label of “Swiss Made” mirrors the criteria used in Switzerland. The FH website states that, in the US and HK, a watch can be labelled as “made in [insert country name]” provided the movement is made in the nominal country of origin. As this differs from the Swiss definition, the Swiss have registered “Swiss Made” as a trademark in the US and negotiated “certification” in HK to ensure that watches sold as “Swiss Made” in the US and HK meet the Swiss (as opposed to US or HK) criteria. As such, the final conclusion that a watch could be 100% made in HK is incorrect.

Onto your second point, the Swiss rules allow the proportion of a watch manufactured in Switzerland to vary between one watch and another. This variation means that any “warning” will be, by definition, a generalisation. But the point of a consumer disclosure is not to provide precise information, it aims to replace one wildly inaccurate generalisation with a more precise generalisation. In this instance, the aim is to replace the misbelief that “Swiss Made” means 100% made in Switzerland for a more accurate understanding that “Swiss Made” can mean <100% is made in Switzerland. The residual ambiguity is deliberate, it removes the absolute belief and replaces it with an uncertainty that reflects the reality that between any two watches the extent of “Swiss Made” may differ.

This ambiguity would incentivise watch manufacturers that exceed the Swiss definitions to advertise the fact, which in extremis would mean that some manufacturers would willingly volunteer the fact that their watches are “100% Swiss Made”.

Problem solved!

commented on HOT TAKE 🔥 🔥🔥 ·

Not sure a consumer warning would be that hard:

“This watch was assembled in Switzerland. However, some of the key components used in the movement and case were manufactured outside of Switzerland.”

commented on Watch to commemorate the birth of my first son!! ·

Congratulations! I became a dad for the first time 2 years ago, and kinda wish I’d bought a watch to mark the occasion. In fact, I actually did the opposite, I sold a watch and used the money to fund a watch I gifted to my brother (his 50th birthday) and a ring I bought for my wife (to celebrate the birth). But if I were to have bought a watch, I’d go with something classic, something that will (hopefully) stand the test of time both in terms of design and weathering the decades. To that end, it’s worth thinking about the bullet proof movements like ETA, Selita, and Omega.

Clearly you already have an Omega, so wearing that at the birth would be a great option.

But assuming you want to buy a new piece, then Hamilton use ETA based movements (Khaki Field Murph would be a top pick). Christopher Ward use Selita (in the main) and have some classic looking options for a bit over $1000 (take a look at the C63 and C65 models). Oris is slightly more expensive, but you can often find discounts, and the more affordable options are Selita-based. My preference is the Big Crown Pointer date or Diver 65.

Good luck in the search for a watch and in becoming a Dad.

commented on HOT TAKE 🔥 🔥🔥 ·

Of course they could, but why would they. Who faces a greater incentive to maximise the proportion of manufacture carried out in Switzerland aside from the Swiss?

commented on HOT TAKE 🔥 🔥🔥 ·

While the legal system in the U.K. differs from the US (despite both being common law systems) the underlying rationale for consumer protection is the same (and similar across the EU where the U.K. inherited many of its consumer protection laws).

The underpinning for all of these regulations are market failures, which range from information asymmetry (the basis for your proposed intervention) through to externalities (the basis for regulations such as vehicle emissions).

I’ve read your earlier description (and replied to it) and I think you are trying to suggest that there is a description of “Swiss Made” which is misleading and that an alternative description would remedy this. The inference I’m drawing from your proposal is that the consequence of the “misleading” label is that consumers who buy a Swiss watch recieve a product which is objectively inferior to the one they might otherwise have expected.

There’s a lot to unpack here. But let’s start with the idea that the consumer suffers harm as a consequence of an information asymmetry. I’ll set out my understanding of your hypothesis below.

You have assumed that consumers do not understand the criteria used by the Swiss authorities to define “Swiss Made”. You go on to suggest that their ex ante beliefs about what “Swiss made” means deviates from the actual definition. Finally, you assume that, if they knew the actual definition, they would choose to no longer purchase “Swiss made” watches or otherwise pay less for these watches. This difference between what they would be willing to pay ex ante and what they would be willing to pay ex post is the harm you propose exists.

We could, of course, test each of these assumptions to see if they hold true. But for now, as a thought experiment, let’s hold them to be true. So what would be the best way for remedying the situation. You propose that a new definition be applied, one imposed by the country that imports the goods, as opposed the country that exports the goods.

I’ve already provided you with a reason to be sceptical of any such approach. In summary:

  • the country of origin has the greatest incentives to find a workable definition of “country of origin” and to police it;

  • any definition from a third country (eg importer) faces incentives to set standards that are either too stringent (restricting imports), or too lax (in order to dilute the label).

The incentive structures alone imply a worse outcome for consumer. But the success of any such remedy would be made worse still by the likelihood that the country of import would be less effective at policing the label (by, for example, auditing the value chain of its imported products) when compared to the country of origin. The net outcome would be regulatory failures stemming from a suboptimal definition (influenced by perverse incentives and poor supervision).

So let’s look at an alternative remedy. Rather than change the label, simply remedy the information gap through consumer disclosures. This could, for example, require all watches sold with the “Swiss Made” label to include a prominent “warning” of the definition set by the Swiss authorities. The delivery of the warning (which could cover both advertisements and point of sale) would close the information asymetry and avoid consumer harm.

Now clearly, if your assumption is correct, the net outcome of these disclosures would be that fewer Swiss watches are sold, or the same number are sold, but at a lower value compared with today.

The incentives would then sit with the Swiss authorities and the manufacturers to either:

a) change the defintion to better meet customer expectations, and hence increase demand; or

b) encourage individual manufacturers that exceed the minimum requirements to advertise the fact, and so win greater market share.

In both cases, the definition of country of origin would still firmly rest with the Swiss, incentives would be aligned to positive market outcomes, and consumers would be better armed with information that could be used to navigate their preferences.

commented on HOT TAKE 🔥 🔥🔥 ·

Conform to the rules on what? If the rules were objectively verifiable statements (eg. materials used in manufacture, regulation and accuracy, measured dimensions etc) then absolutely agree. But we’re not talking about objectively verifiable facts. We’re talking about a definition of country of origin.

The Swiss laws that restrict the use of the term “Swiss Made” exist to protect Swiss watch makers from foreign watch makers’ looking to imitate their products. US laws that restrict the use of the term “Made is the USA / America” are the mirror of this, and protect US manufacturers from imitators. But a US law that restricts the use of the term “Swiss made” serves to protect whom?

commented on HOT TAKE 🔥 🔥🔥 ·

Which is to say, US authorities would get to decide the criteria used by the Swiss authorities when labelling products as being “Swiss made” when sold in the US.

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