What’s in a name?
The Geneva Seal, or ‘Poinçon de Genève, saw the light of day in 1886. It was put in place, formally, by the Grand Council of the Canton of Geneva (Switzerland). The certification is a recognized & regulated standard of excellence. It essentially guarantees the provenance & overall quality of a watch. As per the official statement by Timelab*: “To obtain this distinction, each watch component must be made with the utmost care, and finely decorated. The Poinçon de Genève is synonymous with exceptional aesthetic quality, and guarantees that the product purchased is flawless and unique, a source of great sentimental, artistic and material value.”
The Seal has long been synonymous with a high standard for movement ‘finishing’. A few years ago, the long list of requirements has however expanded beyond just quality of finishing and looks into the accuracy and reliability of the watch and essentially the watch in its entirety.
*Up to 2009 the seal was managed by the ‘École d’horlogerie de Genève’ and has since moved under the responsibility of Timelab.
Baseplates & Bridges
The Baseplates and bridges must have:
- Polished chamfers;
- Straight grained sides;
- No visible machining marks, by using circular-graining, geneva stripes or other finishing and decoration;
- Smoothed down brudge supports;
- Polished bevels;
- Polished countersinks for the jewels.
The beating heart of any watch.
- the balance-spring fixing must be elegant, and the use of glue is strictly forbidden;
- specific (maximum) thickness requirements for the escapement;
- strict requirements for the stud and adjustment index.
The wheel train would be the wheels , gears and jewels. Similar and strict requirements as for the baseplates mentioned above. It’s a long list of requirements and essentially it translates to ‘every element must have exceptionally high finishing, and not just any finishing, but this particular finishing’.
Shaped parts and supplies
Screws, pins & springs must be finished in such a way that their are no visible machining marks and then some:
- Screw heads must be polished or circular-grained with chamfered edges and slots;
- Domed screw heads must be polished or circular grained;
- Colouring is permitted provided the finish conforms;
- The end of the screw foot must be polished and have no trace of its detachment;
- The flat or domed ends of pins must be polished;
- Mechanical and chemical trimming and polishing procedures are allowed as long as they respect the criteria concerning the shape and appearance of surfaces;
- If a part is shaped by folding, this must be rendered undetectable using a suitable and approved finishing operation;
- All parts that are not mentioned in the technical regulations must comply with the requirements laid down in the homologation of the calibre.
For a real deep dive in the strict requirements (I highlighted just a few of them), head over to the official portal of the Poinçon de Genève where they will walk you through all the details.