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Firm fights 'lax and meaningless' Swiss Made law with watch made of cheese

Niamh Michail

By Niamh Michail+

13-Jan-2017
Last updated on 13-Jan-2017 at 15:32 GMT2017-01-13T15:32:05Z

The watch is made from typically Swiss Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese mixed with a composite itr2 nanocarbon material.
The watch is made from typically Swiss Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese mixed with a composite itr2 nanocarbon material. "It's pasteurised and doesn't stink," say its makers. © H. Moser & Cie

A Swiss watchmaker is protesting against the loopholes in the country's ‘Swiss Made’ law with a novelty 100% Swiss watch made from cheese. "Our response to this lax and insufficient label is derision," says the CEO of H. Moser & Cie.

H. Moser & Cie's watch, which it has named 'Swiss Mad', is made using pasteurised Vacherin Mont d’Or, and is 100% Swiss.

The Swiss Made legislation was passed in 2013 and is intended to ensure that only genuinely Swiss products, including food, can bear the red and white Swiss cross. It sets minimum thresholds for ingredients of Swiss origin and came into force on 1 January this year, causing many food firms to lose the logo.

Nestlé was forced to drop the cross form around 80 of its products , something the CEO of Nestlé Switzerland, Christophe Cornu, described as "very unfortunate" for the company.

No joke

H. Moser produced a satirical video to accompany the launch of the watch. But while the jokes may be tongue-in-cheek, the Schaffhausen-based firm says the message behind it is serious: the law is too lenient, provides no guarantee of a product’s origin, creates confusion and encourages abuses of the system.

“The Swiss Made label is meaningless,” says CEO Edouard Meylan. “Worse than this, it gives credibility to the worst abuses in our industry. Our response to this lax and insufficient label is derision."

The company has decided to remove the Swiss Made logo from its watches, all of which are guaranteed to be at least 95% Swiss.

(Mostly) Swiss Made

In the video, an H. Moser horologist, wearing a Swiss woolen hat which is later swapped for Trump-style ‘Make Swiss Made Great Again’ baseball cap, takes a dig at the food industry.

We Swiss people are real magicians – we can turn anything into something Swiss! Take our Swiss chocolate, the best in the world. Have you been in the Alps? Have

© iStock/astra490

you seen cocoa growing in the Alps? There’s only snow in the Alps, it doesn’t make any sense!”

For Swiss legislators, however, it does make sense.

According to the law, ingredients which cannot be sourced in Switzerland due to “natural conditions” such as coffee and cacao, are exempt from the restrictions, and manufacturers can use the Swiss cross if the final product is processed in Switzerland and, in the case of milk chocolate, if the milk has been sourced from Switzerland.

The general rules stipulate that at least 80% of a product’s raw materials must come from Switzerland, and for milk and milk used in dairy products this rises to 100%.

Furthermore, only raw materials that are available in Switzerland are taken into account and the deciding factor is ‘the rate of self-supply for natural products’.

This means if the self-supply rate is more than 50% the ingredient is fully included in the calculation.

If the self-supply rate is between 20% and 50%, as is the case for strawberries, only half of the ingredient is taken into account while for ingredients such as hazelnuts (where less than 20% can be sourced in Switzerland), the ingredient can be ignored.

The Swiss Mad watch retails for just over one million euros, or 1,081,291 Swiss francs. The price refers to the date the Federal Swiss charter came into existence  - 1 August 1291.

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