Patek's Hypocracy?

So Patek has abandoned the Geneva Seal for their own internal quality verification seal.  Their official story is that they have improved upon the criteria, which the Geneva Seal organization was unwilling to do.  Namely, they have added timekeeping standards to the mix, which agreed is a logical and necessary step!  One wonders why this wasn't insisted upon by Patek and the other users of the GS many years before?  Likely because it didn't suit their purposes.  Now Patek wants to regain exclusivity in the face of too many GS hanger's-on (Dubuis, etc., you know who they are).  So, on the face of it, this seems like a real coup for PP.

But...Patek has insisted upon an internal process overseen by their own people!  This fundamental flaw means that, officially or otherwise, the judgements, decisions and actions that govern the PP Seal are influenced by their own management agenda.  It's not transparent and not independent.  So, while accusing the GS organization of being steered by an inefficient and outdated criteria, they have set themselves up to be accused of the same thing in the future.

The Geneva Seal should take this opportunity to re-invent itself and at least equal the standards of PP...plus add an advisory board consisting of industry and consumer advocates that would report annually to the public.  And Vacheron should exert any influence it has to make this happen.  More than the simple pas de deux that everyone expects Patek's Hypocracy?.
06/21/2009 - 21:33
06/21/2009 - 22:55
06/22/2009 - 05:36
Doc
06/22/2009 - 21:53
06/24/2009 - 02:46
07/19/2009 - 17:36
Re: Geneva Seal
06/21/2009 - 22:55
Well,I am sure there will be much debate on this emotive subject.As watch making stndards continue to evolve and we hope improve - it appears,certainly where mechanical watches are concerned,many companies,like for example Omega,have realized that a return to quality,over quantity is the way to go.So at what point do old standards,not so much become obsolete,but rather left behind and in dire need of updating.It is a difficult subject,because if lesser brands (hanger's on) use this as the minimum standard to strive for and attain - then yes indeed PP have sought to distance themselves from this.I agree with  tick-talk here,maybe it is time that the GS was given an update.To its advantage,it can claim unity and some impartiality for its members,but does this put VC in a secondary league ? - personally,as I buy only vintage 50's,60's and 70's watches,I believe for its time the GS was relevant and I would prefer to buy a watch with,rather than without - PP appears to be acting like a football team that thinks its to big for the league - that said,if VC,AP and PP had all put their heads together on this one,well maybe we would all think differently - comments please. Dr Strangelove.
what I don't understand with this new Patek seal is that the brand
06/21/2009 - 23:03
commits to quality criteria (case finish, accuracy, dials etc...) that we all expect from such a brand. Their name on the dial should be sufficient, we don't need a seal. Furthermore for the next few years the Geneva Seal will continue being used so PP will have watches with the GS and others with the PP seal, will this mean that the pieces with the GS will not be of the same quality than the the PP seal? This is just a marketing gimmick and not worthy of PP. 
I said it many times before. Warning long!
06/22/2009 - 01:50
It was a pity that Vacheron&Constantin in the first part of 1970's, attached a sudden interest in the Geneva Seal. From the book "Augenweide Armbanduhr - Vacheron Constantin", by Anton Kreuzer, I quote: "Not before the first half of the 70's, did VC put great importance of the Geneva Seal". What PP is doing is a version of Rolex, who they more and more is approaching, both in production and marketing. Rolex sends 600-700.000 watches per year for COSC certificate, which says nothing. To be honest a COSC certificate today allows so big deviating of a watch, that most people wouldn't pay such much money for so bad results, if they knew. PP on the other hand is accelerating in production and realise that they have a lot of other watchmakers, that does as good and even better finished watches than they do. What to do? 1. Steal marketing from VC. This is one page in VC's catalogue for the 1950's models: PP's version: 2. Skip the Geneva Seal, since so many have it now. COSC is already occupied by Rolex and others and has no exclusivity. What to do? Ah, we create an own version of the Seal. Conclusion. PP's exclusivity is ended, by to many watches, to big second hand market, they can't keep on buying back watches at the auctions in the same speed as new ones appears! I talked to a English vintage dealer, the other week, and he said that it's an enormous demand of vintage VC's! Problem is to find them, because, now I quote him: "Vacheron Constantin has a tendency to stay in the families, contrary to another brand, which suggest that they are the ones that stays in the families!" Once V&C never advertised, " A good wine sells itself", it was said from V&C. They seldom put the Seal on the movements, because they were convinced their name was finer. I understand that VC have to advertise, but I think VC still shall go it's own way, and I hope, that Geneva Seal on the dials was a mistake, as well as I think PT on the dial is overkill, if you whish to be exclusive. If not, by a steel watch For me it's good enough that it is a genuine Vacheron Constantin, that is the quality mark I need. If VC should do anything, it's drop the Genva Seal and let it be Vacheron&Constantin, in the old fashion way : Cheers Doc
Re: Patek's Hypocrisy?
06/22/2009 - 05:36
I totally agree that Patek has done this for pure marketing reasons and think its pretty arrogant of them to portray it as anything else.  Having said that, I have some comments that may not be to the VC's liking either (remember, we tend to hurt/criticize the ones we love). VC's vacillation on the Geneva Seal has hurt the brand.  I can understand if VC believed their name was a better quality symbol than the GS, therefore they thought that it wasn't necessary.  But then VC should have not gone out of the way to have a few movements stamped with a GS, which I remember reading on The Lounge was often due to customer request.  What type of message does that say to the market?  (all of our watches are up to, if not higher than, the GS standards - but we just indicate it on a few pieces?  P.S. I believe the same goes for COSC). If VC really started to get interested in the GS in the 1970s, then I would ask why?  We know that this time period was not easy for the brand, but did quality (or perception of quality) decrease to the point that VC's name was no longer a better quality symbol than the GS?  If so, the challenge is how to change this perception. I know that VC is now a champion of the GS, and will have all of its in house movements stamped.  I may be in the very small minority, but I would have preferred going in the other direction - back to the original position of VC's name being a higher standard than the Geneva Seal.  VC would have to come out and officially state this as their standard for doing things and be willing to allow experts take a look at their products to verify these claims.  I know this would be difficult these days and if it turns out that VC can't meet this standard (even if they slip-up on just one watch), there would be hell to pay.  (I also think VC should do this in terms of COSC as well, i.e., VC officially comes out to say that all of its watch's will  exceed COSC standards for time keeping).  I know some will say that this is what PP is doing, but the critical difference is that there wouldn't be a bogus seal stamped on a VC, just Vacheron & Constantin. While I would personally like to see VC take this type of stand, I think it would also be great if if they led a group, including other brands (in and out of Geneva) and an independent organization, to come up with a new standard that can meet the same purpose of a quality and time-keeping standard that meets or exceeds the current GS and COSC standards - either way, it would be a bold move by VC and really announce, to those that are not already Vacheronistas in the know, that VC is taking back its position at the very top of the food chain, BAR NONE.  Now that would be a significant statement plus strategy and marketing move! And now I wait for any and all arrows to fly in my direction (but that's OK, I have my kevlar vest on, just no head shots please ) BR, Dan
Dan, we stand side by side catching the arrows!
06/22/2009 - 13:58
I'm glad that you and I share the common ground. Vacheron&Constantin is enough.  Period.  Cheers Doc
My 2 cents...
06/22/2009 - 14:21

If you take a look at the PP and VC catalogues of the past few years, PP has advertised and glorified the GS more than VC.  To say now that they wil have their own seal, is a bit like saying that all the watches we have made until now are crap.   VC in their catalogues never glorified the seal to such a high degree. They just mentioned it briefly. I think having the a seal (whether GS, COSC or whatever) just comforts a mental block that customers might have..."Yes, we know VC has higher standards, but we much rather have it with the Seal." - similar like going to a restaurant with a michelin star...perhaps. The food quaity and chef might be the same, but the star creates an image of being better. My wife and I had the opportunity to visit VC in Geneva in early May (thanks to Alex who organised this), and I must say that before the visit, I also thought of the GS as very important.  The visit to the factory changed my perception.   Because, at VC, whether a movement is inhouse with GS; inhouse without GS; ebauche basis; ebauche with module; or whatever the specific model is; they all prettly much go through the same "assembly line" - (to use a modern term).  In other words, the same people prettly much craft all the watches that come out of VC.  This means that the standards are the same across the model range.

Here's an article on the Geneva and Patek Seals seen by the CEOs of
06/22/2009 - 13:38

VC and PP

I just can't understand Mr Stern,
06/22/2009 - 14:20

following his reasoning, every really serious watchmaker should have their own seal. I personally have experienced that both Vacheron Constantin and Girard-Perregaux, have streched their guarantees at several times. It would be very intersting to see in ten years, when the fifth owner of a PP, comes back with it broken, of some reason. Does anyone believe that they would repair it for nothing? If you buy a Cross pen/pencil, which I have several of, you get a lifelong guarantee. I haven't had the reason to test it, but I feel tempted to break one and see what they would do. Anyhow it's a kind of marketing gimmick from PP that seems a bit desperate, because it says nothing. Mr Torres will hang on to the Geneva Seal, which is better than drop it now, since that would be a small victory for PP! But already now the Geneva Seal is so exploited, by to many, that it has become a new COSC Again, Vacheron&Constantin is for me the utmost hallmark!  Doc

Re: Here's an article on the Geneva and Patek Seals seen by the CEOs of
06/22/2009 - 15:45
I may be hard-headed but I still don't get it.  In the last sentence of the article from Mr. Torres, "... a Vacheron Constantin movement bearing the Hallmark of Geneva must be one of the most reliable things in an uncertain world."  What could be inferred about the Overseas collection and others, past and present, that don't have the GS?  That they are a little less reliable than VCs with the GS?  What I would expect (and already believe) is that a VC, with or without the Hallmark of Geneva, must be one of the most reliable things in an uncertain world, period.  Should I reconsider my position and belief?  My favorite VC has a 1126/R31 movement, which is from a JLC ebauche and does not have the Hallmark.  Am I to believe that it is a lesser VC?  There are other VC movements that I believe are magnificent but also do not have the GS, what about these classic beauties, would they be considered lesser? If the Hallmark for 100% of production is a goal for VC to attain, then I can only imagine what the esprit de corps would be like within the VC organization if it was announced the goal was for all watches is to not just meet the GS standards, but to exceed them - because the goal for the future definition of quality standards in watchmaking is not a Seal at all, but just the name Vacheron & Constantin! BR, Dan
VC has had a rather schizophernic relationship with the Geneva
06/22/2009 - 17:11
seal until about 2005. You have some vintage movements with the same exact finish but certain without the seal and others with (due to specific market requests).  The Geneva seal through the last part of the 20th century was reserved mainly for Chronometre Royal and Extra flat models using caliber 1003. certain Cal 1120 models also had the seal but it was not really clear how the choice was mad, for ex certain Mercator models come with the GS and others not!! I think this has less to do with the quality of movement finish but a specific strategy which seen from the outside is opaque to say the least. Starting 2002 and the launch of cal 1400 VC has decided to reserve the GS only for its manufacture movements, this doesn't mean that base ebauches from Piguet or JLC are not finished to the same level I just think that it is an extra "marketing" push.  For VC the GS is a minimum and for me the name on the dial is enough but for other types of buyers the GS can really be considered a plus. Just my 2c
Alex my friend,
06/22/2009 - 18:30
which 'new old watch model' is it, that got the Vacheron & Constantin on it's movement? I can't find it but I know you hinted at me in an article a year ago nor so Couldd I please see some pics Your own Doc
Chronometre Royal 1907
06/22/2009 - 18:59
Chronometre Royal 1907
06/22/2009 - 21:05
There it is !! The symbol of perfect watchmaking. Vacheron&Constantin's hallmark. Thanks Doc
From the brands' point of view,
06/22/2009 - 18:32
customers can be divided into three target groups at least: 1 pure pursuers for luxury products, here branding will have most effects, VC, PP will ring the bell much better than GS, they probably don't know the very existence of the GS (until upgrading to "higher education" if they care), in this group, LV, Dior, etc. will possibly/more easily steal VC, PP's customers; 2 entry-level mechanical fans, they begin to know more about *watches* ; ) They will care about the Seal more than the other groups, I believe all the  customers who "required" GS will be in this group, it's a good start, because  they begin to think about quality carried within instead of just an empty shell of concept. Every marketer must believe customers can be educated, this is the foundation of their very profession, the second group is which the brands should pay most attention to and  play very carefully with the GS tactic 3 GS criteria are known to this group, where I believe most Loungers belong to,  their loyalty is settled. You cannot tell them the standards your brand used to conform to have such flaws that you need to take a radical move to withdraw and establish your own. It undermines the credibility of the industry which will eventually harm the brand itself, and it commits one of the top sins in marketing: sending out inconsistent messages - it does more  damages to luxury products, because tradition is key, it's what we sell, basically.  VC should push the reform of the GS, meanwhile more marketing efforts (louder voice;) on VC's own verification certificates (we can also make it short, still VC that is:) which inform buyers of every higher standard achieved by VC, it's a subtle message saying that we make it better ; ) one or two sentences in the booklet will do. Thanks Patek, made the mistake, a totally in-house seal does lack of transparency, hence less convincing. VC will gain more from being the leader of change (hey, that's how presidents were elected;), the difficulty remains making the change happen. In any case we cannot apply the same tactic of the entertainment business, i.e. making bold moves to gather attention>media coverage>contracts. I agree with other loungers that quality is the timeless; )way to go, in difficult times and in blooming years. 
The siblings.
06/22/2009 - 21:53
Both are family owned and decides what rules their games are played by. Both, as mentioned above, lacks transparency. Both are heavy marketing and big auctionbuyers of their own brand. Both families have made hughe profits. The siblings are roughly 200 respectively 100 years younger than Vacheron&Constantin. One is named Rolex and the other Patek Philippe. Doc
a new independent organisation called the Laboratoire d'Horlogerie et
06/23/2009 - 12:11
de Michrotechnique de Geneve (Horological and Michrotechnical Laboratory, I don't have its offical name in English) was created this month in Geneva. This new authority merges the Geneva Seal bureau, COSC as well as a unité de competence (copetence bureau) which will answer specific  demands from the industry (I don't know which ones yet) I don't have more info on this new "Laboratory" but it seems that the Geneva canton has decided to put more funds and manpower in promoting and protecting the Geneva Seal.
Fast Response
06/23/2009 - 18:02
Boy, that was a fast response by normal Geneva standards .  They obviously respect the muscle of Patek and understand the consequences of PP's move to use their own seal! However, if their customer is still the "industry", rather than the consumer, they have only enhanced the old system rather than make a truly bold move towards a new vision.  This problem of perspective is too common among such associations.
This sounds fascinating and definitely a positive step forward.
06/23/2009 - 18:26
If this is the direction the GS and VC are going in, I totally support it (not that VC or the Canton of Geneva would really notice ).  Would LHM be its acronym, or LHMG (sounds too close to LVMH?) Thanks Alex for sharing this info, I'll start searching and hope to learn more about it. BR, Dan
Re: a new independent organisation called the Laboratoire d'Horlogerie et
06/23/2009 - 19:21

Please allow me to ask, as I'm not as knowledgeable as you all: if this new authority is a merger of the GS bureau, the COSC and the unite de competence, does that mean future VCs will bear a seal from the same governing body which also certifies Rolex There's no way they are in the same league!

Re: Re: a new independent organisation called the Laboratoire d'Horlogerie et
06/23/2009 - 20:21
Hi KL, Its still too early to tell what this new organization will come up with.  But the GS currently does not have a time keeping accuracy requirement and COSC does not have a requirement for finishing. This new governing organization may offer several certifications: current COSC, current GS, and a new higher, combined, standard.  Therefore, although Rolex and Omega use COSC the most to be officially certified chronometers, it does not mean they would meet the requirements of a newly created set of standards. Hopefully a new set of standards will be created that will be more stringent than the combined, current, Geneva Seal and COSC offer.  If this is true, it would be a level above anything currently available today.  As Tick-Talk mentioned, it is probably in response to PP's marketing move in creating the PP Seal, but this one would be given by an independent body.  I just hope that it is truly stringent and meaningful.  If so, it would be an advancement in the watch industry's standards AND leave PP out on there own. BR, Dan
Thanks Dan
06/24/2009 - 12:51
as I didn't know COSC does not have a requirement for finishing. It was my guess, too, that the new independent body will "categorise" their certificates, otherwise it would be worrying. Indeed, let's hope they will set out higher standards.
It is nothing more than Patek's Self-Proclaimed Supremacy
06/23/2009 - 21:19
If PP is so confident, they should send all their watches for qualite fleurier test.  I am afraid that after the test, their production would be cut by half. On the other hand, VC should not rely too much on Geneva Seal to prove their quality.  Instead, internally, VC should be more consistent with their quality in all their watches, be it simple or complication.  I agree that V&C is a more truthful and meaningful seal. Regards Ling
Tahnk you for supporting me Ling!
06/24/2009 - 02:01
Now this happens what I wrote above, PP forces the others to create something new. WHY ??? How stupid can the other actors be? They simply let PP write down the rules the game is going to be played after By doing this they confirm that PP's hallmark is better than the Geneva Seal!! Vacheron&Constantin is enough for Vacheron&Constantin as well it's for Ling and me I'm a bit embarrased.... Doc
Lol.... Doc
06/24/2009 - 02:46
If ONE PP's Hallmark is claimed to be better than ONE Geneva Seal (which is of course denied or disputed by many Loungers here), how about we put DOUBLE or TRIPLE Geneva Seal to beat PP's Hallmark or vice versa. By an anology, not all Japanese sake which bear the hallmark/sticker of "Japan Prestige Sake Association" is good sake.  There are many sake without such halmark/sticker are better. We therefore just need ONE V&C hallmark and the commitment of the brand. Regards Ling
quality hallmarks
07/19/2009 - 17:36
Due to the explosive growth of the watchtindustry over the last ten years and the growing demand for quality watches and movements at the same time, quality trademarkinflation (like GS, COSC) was inevitable to appear. To strive for a quality trademark combining finish, accuracy and maybe service or more now is a bit late since PP already created its own. I guess the industry in general has been too busy producing since demand was bigger than supply over the last few years. But it is certainly time to do something. Whether VC should participate in a new seal (or an upgraded Geneva Seal) or use none depends on the who the customer is. Are they luxery buyers, quality buyers how know the GS or are they loungers? How is this mix divided? By all respect, vintage buyers do not keep the engine running. VC should choose for continuity. A seal or not depends on who's buying.