A large – read: like a smaller-sized car – machine is operated by hand, as a metal tip is pressed onto the surface of the metal by hand to apply the groove. The pattern is defined by so-called rosetta stones, which are actually large, rounded discs cast in metal, with their edges (like coins) dictating the movement of the engraving tip. Guilloche patterns are primarily found on the dials and winding rotors of select Roger Dubuis watches – and, more generally speaking, these are the components that usually receive this type of decoration.
Next is casing up. This is sort of a big deal for the Geneva Seal since 2011, as its criteria have been expanded to include the entire “watch head” – as they prefer to call it. Therefore, the parts connecting the movement with the case and dial must be finished according to the criteria governing the parts of the movement. The full list of casing-up components includes the clamps and braces, dog screw, screws for the extensions and levers of the pushpieces, casing-up rings, pivoting levers, and extensions of the pushpieces.
In general, the parts must be be fine turned or milled without burrs, have trimmed chamfers, smoothened finishings on the clamps and braces, and the pushpiece levers and extensions must be finished properly in line with the sample watch submitted. All components must be true to the reference kit submitted.
In short, all parts linking and fixing the movement to the case must be held to the same high standard (of no finishing traces) as other components.
The list of criteria now also includes the testing of the assembled “watch head” accuracy, water resistance, power reserve, and overall functioning. Accuracy is tested over seven consecutive days when watch wearing habits are simulated by automated robotic arms. The watches move through a cycle of one revolution a minute for 14 hours and are then stopped for 10 hours in any position. At the end of 7 days, the position of the minutes hand is compared with its position at the start of the test and a maximum deviation of one minute is accepted.
That is +/-8.5 seconds per day, which is beyond COSC’s -4/+6 second per day requirement – though it has to be noted that super-complicated movements such as tourbillons or double tourbillons, minute repeaters and grand complications are scarcely (read: hardly ever) submitted to COSC. The simple reason is that they are extremely difficult to regulate and hence are inherently less accurate. However, all watches that get the Geneva Seal, no matter how complicated, must be within that 8.5 second/day limit – which actually is a considerable challenge for these aforementioned, highly complicated movements.
Some other interesting remarks include:
- All the watches must be fully wound and, if the watch allows, the date must be set to February 26 of a leap-year,
- Manually wound watches must be fully wound every 24 hours,
- Self-winding watches must not be wound manually throughout the test,
- The chronograph must run during the first 24 hours of the test.
These are fascinating additions to the criteria of the Geneva Seal because they indicate some extra consideration of actual everyday issues and concern relating to mechanical timepieces. Clearly, a watch with a perpetual calendar complication is most compromised (if that’s the right word) at that exact date; a self-winding watch must be able to keep itself functioning exclusively with its automatic rotor; and the timekeeping accuracy of a chronograph watch must not be considerably affected by the operation of this feature.
Water resistance has to be tested to a minimum pressure of 3 bars and a negative pressure of 0.5 bars – the latter is the pressure experienced on a commercial airplane flying 30,000 feet above sea level. In case a watch is not water resistant, this must be specified in the certificate.
Power reserve has to be equal to or more than the figure claimed by the manufacturer – again, a commendable requirement.
Only after meeting all the respective criteria and passing all these tests can a watch receive its Geneva Seal certificate. The certificate has a unique serial number – that they say has been duly registered since the establishment of the Hallmark of Geneva in 1886 – and must include the unique serial number of the watch case and the watch movement.
As we said early on, the watches are tested in-house, i.e., in the manufacture where they were made. So how is the integrity of the Seal maintained? Personnel of the “Poinçon de Genève” department regularly visit applicants and subcontractors according to a monitoring plan. The “Poinçon de Genève” personnel must have access to all production facilities and equipment of the applicants, as well as to the inspection data of any watch at any time. The marking of the movement and in some cases other components is performed under the responsibility of the applicant and Timelab is responsible for providing and maintaining the marking machine.
With this, we have arrived at the end of discovering how Geneva Seal-certified timepieces are created at Roger Dubuis, in the canton of Geneva. The Hallmark of Geneva, since its recent update in 2011, has gone on to become an extremely detailed and thoughtfully conceived certification, one that many argue it always should have been. While applicant manufactures to the Seal had until the 1st of June, 2013 to comply with these new and expanded criteria, that date is long gone, so now, you can bet, watches bearing this certificate have met a much wider, more thorough, and indeed more realistic line of requirements. rogerdubuis.com