Introduced in the 19th century by an industry long threatened with the scourge of counterfeiting, the Geneva Hallmark or Poinçon de Genève, celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2006 and is considered as a true quality hallmark.
Given legal status in 1886, the Poinçon de Genève is probably one of the oldest professional hallmarks in any industry, recognised as a label of origin, but especially as a guarantee of superior quality.
Comprising twelve permanent criteria - modified over the years, of course, to meet various changes in the industry, the Poinçon de Genève is only given to movements that satisfy all twelve.
What is more, it is only granted to movements assembled and regulated within the canton of Geneva and by watch manufactures whose head office is there.
Besides the technical and aesthetic obligations required by the law, the Poinçon de Genève embraces a horological philosophy that makes no concessions to the quality of either the movement as a whole or to its individual parts. It is guided by a certain spirit governing the production of movements from the design stage, because these require a number of manual operations in the purest tradition of the professionals who created this hallmark more than a century ago. In the area of finishing, for example, decorating parts with côtes de Genève, circular-graining and chamfering and the drawing of steel are operations carried out by hand.
In practice, approval by the seven members of the Poinçon de Genève Commission, appointed individually for four years by the cantonal government, is carried out in several stages. Each one of the movement's 100 to sometimes more than 800 components, depending on the model, must first receive approval from the Commission.
Once all the parts have been given the green light, the movement can be assembled and regulated for one final series of tests. The plates of all the watches in the relevant series are then authorised to receive the hallmark.
It is worthwhile to note that the seal is given to the base movement but Vacheron Constantin has decided to go all the way and also request the hallmark on additional modules atop the base movement making it ne of the only to do so!!!
In the picture of the manual wind cal 1400 you will see the different criteria and how they are applied
click on picture for larger view