"Swiss" and "Swiss made" wording on vintage watches

Thread: "Swiss" and "Swiss made" wording on vintage watches

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  1. #1
    Member Klostrophobic's Avatar
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    "Swiss" and "Swiss made" wording on vintage watches

    Hi - I'm still learning about vintages, and particularly the pitfalls in trying to buy a vintage.

    My question relates to the words "swiss" or "swiss made" appearing on the dials on vintage swiss watches. Is my gut feeling that in the 50, 60's and perhaps 70's, manufacturers didnt not always put such wording on the dials of their watches?

    Or is it a case of where manufacturers cased watches in countries outside Switzerland (eg, GP i believe for a period assembled watches in NY), they omitted the wording?

    I am basically trying to find out if a vintage doesnt carry such wording, its the signs of a poor refurbishment.

  2. #2
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    Re: "Swiss" and "Swiss made" wording on vintage watches

    SWISS MADE was on the dial of vintage watches that all the parts were made in Switzerland - the whole shebang including dial, case, hands, etc.

    SWISS was usually on the watches where the movement was made in Switzerland and then sent to another country to be installed in locally made cases. This was usually done to lower import taxes. Omega, Longines, JLC, VC, Zenith/Movado, and a slew of other brands had case makers in the US (like Star, K & E, Ross, Wadsworth, L & K) and UK (like Dennison) who made gold cases to factory specifications.

    If you see a Swiss watch without either designation, 98% of the time it means the dial has been refinished and it was too hard to print it on the concave edge. This isn't always true - some watches might not have ever had it on the dial (a few Omega bumpers from the 40's and 50's I think) or it is on the dial but below the rehaut so you can't see it. Some redialers put the SWISS MADE too high on the dial where it's easier to print. You also need to pay attention to the lume markings (the T's)- but I don't know all the ins & outs of that so somebody else should answer.

  3. #3
    Member Tony C.'s Avatar
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    Re: "Swiss" and "Swiss made" wording on vintage watches

    You are on the right track. A lack of such wording is not a definitive sign of a redial. Discerning redials has much more to do with the quality, placement and fonts used. Sometimes, for example, one will find the words "SWISS MADE" on a watch, but placed higher than they should be, denoting a redial.

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  5. #4
    Member gatorcpa's Avatar
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    Re: "Swiss" and "Swiss made" wording on vintage watches

    Quote Originally Posted by ulackfocus View Post
    SWISS MADE was on the dial of vintage watches that all the parts were made in Switzerland - the whole shebang including dial, case, hands, etc.
    Agreed. And I think this is still true today.

    Quote Originally Posted by ulackfocus View Post
    SWISS was usually on the watches where the movement was made in Switzerland and then sent to another country to be installed in locally made cases. This was usually done to lower import taxes. Omega, Longines, JLC, VC, Zenith/Movado, and a slew of other brands had case makers in the US (like Star, K & E, Ross, Wadsworth, L & K) and UK (like Dennison) who made gold cases to factory specifications.
    I think the "SWISS" marking is more of a indicator of the intended market of the watch, at least prior to the mid-1960's. Watches that were made only for the North American market usually had this designation. Here are a couple of examples of these from Rolex and Omega:

    Rolex Golden Egg (Gold Capped), only sold in USA and Canada:



    Omega Globemaster, USA only:



    Both of these watches are 100% Swiss-made, both movement and case. It is possible some final assembly work was done in the USA.

    Quote Originally Posted by ulackfocus View Post
    If you see a Swiss watch without either designation, 98% of the time it means the dial has been refinished and it was too hard to print it on the concave edge. This isn't always true - some watches might not have ever had it on the dial (a few Omega bumpers from the 40's and 50's I think) or it is on the dial but below the rehaut so you can't see it. This isn't always true - some watches might not have ever had it on the dial (a few Omega bumpers from the 40's and 50's I think)
    Here is one of those Omegas you mentioned...



    Really good thread
    gatorcpa

  6. #5
    Member LouS's Avatar
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    Re: "Swiss" and "Swiss made" wording on vintage watches

    Great thread. Learned something today!

  7. #6
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    Re: "Swiss" and "Swiss made" wording on vintage watches

    Thanks! The bumper example is just what I meant. I had no idea about the intended market concept.

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    Member Klostrophobic's Avatar
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    Re: "Swiss" and "Swiss made" wording on vintage watches

    Thanks for the education guys! Invaluable source of knowledge, this place.

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    Re: "Swiss" and "Swiss made" wording on vintage watches

    I agree with Gator in respect to Swiss Made and destination.

    While there has been legislation on the Swiss books since the later 1800s governing "Swiss", "Swiss Made" and "Swiss Movement", it was largely left up to the manufacturers whether to use it and how to apply it. And so with vintage watches up until around 1966 it was hit and miss.

    It's not so much the presence or absence of this Swiss appellation that may assist you in determining an original from a refinished dial, but more in the font and positioning when it does appear. For example, in post war vintage Omegas when Swiss or Swiss made does appear it will use the same upper case fonts as on the main part of the dial and it will be perfectly balanced at six o'clock (usually) with the chapter ring.

    But there are more effective ways of determining originality than examining Swiss Made etc., however for these you have to do some serious homework - such as being able to assess the font and positioning of the lettering, know the stylised fonts used for brand names, check out the proper alignment of dial furniture with the printed chapter ring, and so on. Perhaps the quickest and easist way is to examine the quality of the printing. In most quality watches the printing will be sharp and will most likely be embossed rather than flat printed.

    Cheers

    Desmond

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