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 & BridgesBridges The bridges of a watch movement are the metal plates that hold the wheels and other components of the movement in place. They are attached to the main plate of the movement with screws. Bridges are used to support the balance wheel, the escapement, the mainspring barrel and other elements. Combined with the main plate they are the foundation of any watch movement. [Learn More]
The Baseplates and bridges must have:
- Polished chamfers;
- Straight grained sides;
- No visible machining marks, by using circular-graining, geneva stripesGeneva Striping Geneva Striping is a decorative technique used in the finishing of mechanical watch movements, it's also known as "Côtes de Genève". It is a type of linear graining that involves making small, parallel lines on the surface of movement components, such as the main plate using a specialized tool. [Learn More] or other finishing and decoration;
- Smoothed down brudge supports;
- Polished bevels;
- Polished countersinks for the jewelsJewels Watch jewels are small, synthetic sapphire or ruby bearings that are used in mechanical watches to reduce friction and wear on moving parts. They are typically made from corundum. They are used as bearings for a.o. the pivots to reduce friction. [Learn More].
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 escapementEscapement The escapement is a mechanism in a mechanical watch movement that regulates the release of energy from the mainspring and keeps the watch ticking at a steady rate. The escapement is made up of two main components: the escape wheel and the pallet fork. The escapement is responsible for the ticking sound of the watch, and it ensures that the watch runs at a consistent rate. As the escape wheel rotates forward, it locks and unlocks with the pallet fork, allowing a small amount of energy from the mainspring to be released. This causes the balance wheel to oscillate and the watch to 'tick'. [Learn More];
- 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.