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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought that we might create a reference thread for dial and movement marks in different countries and the regulation change dates. I've accumulated several ref. dates, ran into 'Abslomrob' s thread about US regulations, David Boettcher is an ocean in British marks... What about having it all under one thread? All information which helps us dating our old-timers.

Correct me if I am wrong and please add dates of regulation changes which helps us dating vintage timepieces, mainly wrist-watches era:

1909: US regulations started demanding country of manufacture on dial and movements. Example' Swiss Made' on dial and movement.
1923: France demanded also country of manufacture on dial ' Fab. Suisse ' marks start appearing, however in 1936 the dial mark at 6 o'clock position was asked to be moved up where the ' brand ' is marked.
1934: Swiss gold hallmarks reg. changes with ' poinçon de maître '. The 'hammer with handle' is switched to 'hammer without handle ' indicating the case-maker.
1934: US reg. demands US import marks on movements, until 1962-67 era
1968: US demands that 'water-proof ' shouldn't be marked, therefore ' water - resistant ' marks start appearing from this date

Let's see what we can put together, thanks
 

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1913: US allows "Unadjusted" markings on movement (previously, they had to mark something, so you'd see a lot of "2 adjustments" on movements)
1922: US allows "Name of Purchaser" to movement markings (Previously, had to be the name of the manufacturer)

1908: Canadian "Dominion Stamp Act" prevents Canadian case makers (like the American Watch Case Co. of Toronto) from putting a "year" guarantee on their gold filled watch cases
1924: The US restricts the use of case "Guarantees" for gold filled cases; most makers switch to "Warranted"

There were a number of FTC decisions in the 50's and 60's relating to the words "Shockproof" and "Dustproof", but it's hard to pin down when these would have impacted watch markings, as often the FTC decisions would get appealed, and I'm not sure when the decisions would have been enforced.
 

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Thought that we might create a reference thread for dial and movement marks in different countries and the regulation change dates. I've accumulated several ref. dates, ran into 'Abslomrob' s thread about US regulations, David Boettcher is an ocean in British marks... What about having it all under one thread? All information which helps us dating our old-timers....
Add in posts linking to the above threads so we find this in one place!... I am going to sticky this thread for a while then it will move to links and articles.

Good Idea!! |>
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks Eeeb ;)

I think making it easy by just posting dates and information would be more convenient, that's why c/p'ing Abslomrob's initial thread from : https://www.watchuseek.com/f11/notes-movement-markings-regards-us-tariff-law-778346.html

quote:

US regulations:

Prior to the tariff act of 1897, there was no real consideration of what "kind" of watch was being imported; all watches and clocks were taxed at a rate of 25% ad valorem.

1897, when they mostly switched to a flat tax that was based on the number of jewels. This ranged from $0.35 for 7 jewel and lower up to $1.25 for 17 jewel watches. Above 17 jewels, the tax was $3.00 + 25% ad valorem. The goal here was to protect the bread and butter of American production, the high-end railroad grade watches. However, there was no requirement to mark the movements, so any markings would have been at the discretion of the watch companies.

1909, the tariff act required imported movements (as well as dials and cases) to include indelible markings. The 1909 act required:

Dials: had to include the country of origin
Cases: had to include the country of origin and name of manufacturer.
Movements: same as cases, but also required the number of jewels and the number of adjustments.

1913, watch companies could state "unadjusted" if the watch was unadjusted.

1922. For watches with 17 jewels or higher, the ad valorem was removed, and replaced with a tiered system of flat taxes based on the number of adjustments. These ranged from $2.75 for an unadjusted watch up to $6.50 for a watch adjusted to 5 positions. Watches with more then 17 jewels were taxed at $10.75. Most importantly (for the sake of my topic), they modified the requirements to change the "Name of Manufacturer" to "Name of Manufacturer or Purchaser". They also added text indicating that "only jewels which serve a mechanical purpose as a frictional bearing be marked as herein provided".

I wasn't able to find the actual tariff texts for beyond 1922, but another book described some of the changes of 1930, 1936 and 1955. Most notable is that watches with no more then 17 jewels were taxed a flat rate for each adjustment (with temperature counting as two adjustments), and there was a flat tax for each jewel in excess of 7.

unquote


David Boettcher's Website ( British Import Hallmarks in Watch Cases ) has too much data plus the Brits have started hallmarking in 1478!!!, therefore would appreciate somebody educated in British Hallmarking to post it in simplier format :)

Let's keep it not that diversified and stick to regulation changes rather than the hallmarks and marks itself.

Thank you for your input
 

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Luminosity Explained

Letters SWISS
Luminous material Radium
used until 1960
radioactive

Letters T SWISS - T < 25
luminous material Tritium
used from 1960 until 1998
radioactive, radioactivity less than 925 MBq (25 mCi)

Letters T SWISS T
luminous material Tritium
used from 1960 until 1998
radioactive, radioactivity less than 277 MBq (7,5 mCi)

Letters SWISS OR SWISS MADE
luminous material Superluminova
used from 2000
not radioactive
 

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Is this general or are these dates specific to a particular manufacturer?
General dates.
Manufacturers like Rolex bled them in with different models over a few years
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
1909: US regulations started demanding country of manufacture on dial and movements. Example' Swiss Made' on dial and movement.
Additionally,Enrico messaged me with a link for the background of the above regulation( Renaissance Watch Repair - "Swiss Fake" Watches ).In 1871 due to the increasing Swiss watches in American market -which some of them were imitating the American brands like Hampden/Hampton,Elgin/Elfin,Illinois Bunn Special/Benn Special... - the congress passed a law, demanding manufacture of origin in watches. Some Swiss watches were marking their movements,behind the bridges to get away with this law...Interesting background. This might cover the early wrist-watch period also. Thanks Enrico
 

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I'm sorry, not noticed this thread before, excellent information!

Thought this might be useful. 1922 tax legislation on precious metals and plate, including, as noted within, watch cases and markings required.




rsz_1922_rgp.jpg
 
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As most of you know, Swiss watches that were originally imported by France often possess distinguishing features. These features can be immediately visible (e.g. “Fab. Suisse”) or less obvious (e.g. French made cases). One practice that is not often discussed is the discreet marking of movements.

These markings consist of a single letter that is usually stamped on the barrel bridge. This letter indicates the case material. However, only three letters are used: “O”, “A”, and “M”. The letters correspond to the words or, argent, and métal. I have chosen to study these letters by focusing on Longines watches as their historical department is highly cooperative.

The earliest incidence that I have encountered and confirmed is this example from 1901.


1901.JPG

The latest is this example from 1949.

movement5.JPG

The letters were used consistently up until the mid-1930’s and seem to disappear entirely by the early 1950’s.

The impetus to mark movements in such a manner is presently unknown to me. The first clue is the significance given to precious metals. The markings do not distinguish between different non-precious metal case materials.

It would seem as though the markings were an attempt to confirm that a movement was in its original case (or at least a case made of the ‘correct’ material). This assumes that both marking and case originated from Switzerland. In many cases, Swiss hallmarks confirm the latter and this would suggest that the former is also true.

One might imagine that cases made of precious metal could have been separated from their movements and sold for their bullion value upon arrival. The letters would serve as evidence that a movement had been re-cased. But was this a particularly French problem? Or was France simply more pre-emptive than other countries in this regard? Also, why would movements encased in non-precious metal require markings?

If anyone has information regarding these markings or the French importation regulations concerning precious metals during the twentieth century, I am quite interested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
1968: US demands that 'water-proof ' shouldn't be marked, therefore ' water - resistant ' marks start appearing from this date

Let's see what we can put together, thanks
There were a number of FTC decisions in the 50's and 60's relating to the words "Shockproof" and "Dustproof", but it's hard to pin down when these would have impacted watch markings, as often the FTC decisions would get appealed, and I'm not sure when the decisions would have been enforced.
I found the article in ' Federal Register' which regulates the watch specifications.

Now we can safely say that all those wording 'water resistant ', ' pressure tested', 'shock absorbing' replaced the previous terms 'waterproof', 'dustproof', 'shockproof' after 19th of July 1968 ( 33 FR 10332, July 19, 1968 )

It's this article which refers to the source of publication with the above reference number:

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-1997-title16-vol1/pdf/CFR-1997-title16-vol1-part245.pdf
 

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I'm bringing this thread back for the sake of future searchers.

We've always discussed when certain regulations began, but not when they ended, particularly the requirement to show the number of adjustments on the movements. The beginning of that requirement is shown at the start of this thread, and it was clearly established in regulation at least by 1922.

But when did it end? This came up in a discussion today about an 80's Favre-Leuba, which uncharacteristically showed "unadjusted" on a top-grade ETA 2892.

So, I started digging into the US tariff schedules.

In 1989, the tariff schedule changed fundamentally to align internationally. Until 1988, the tariff schedule was known as the "Tariff Schedules of the United States Annotated", and the final version of that is dated 1987. That document requires the following:

Tariff Schedule 1987 watch movement markings.GIF
Citation: Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated, Schedule 7, Part 2, Subpart E, paragraph 4, published 1987.

This is the wording that had been in place for decades. The duty itself is extremely complicated, but is charged based on the number of adjustments for highly jeweled or self-winding movements.

Then, in 1989, the United States adopted a new schedule, known as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. That document states:

4. Special Marking Requirements: With the following exceptions, any movement or case provided for in this chapter, whether
imported separately or attached to an article provided for in this chapter, shall not be permitted to be entered unless
conspicuously and indelibly marked by cutting, die-sinking, engraving, stamping or mold-marking (either indented or raised), as
specified below. Movements with opto-electronic display only and cases designed for use therewith, whether entered as separate
articles or as components of assembled watches or clocks, are excepted from the marking requirements set forth in this note.
The special marking requirements are as follows:
(a) Watch movements shall be marked on one or more of the bridges or top plates to show:
(i) the name of the country of manufacture;
(ii) the name of the manufacturer or purchaser; and
(iii) in words, the number of jewels, if any, serving a mechanical purpose as frictional bearings.
(b) Clock movements shall be marked on the most visible part of the front or back plate to show:
(i) the name of the country of manufacture;
(ii) the name of the manufacturer or purchaser; and
(iii) the number of jewels, if any.
(c) Watch cases shall be marked on the inside or outside of the back to show:
(i) the name of the country of manufacture; and
(ii) the name of the manufacturer or purchaser.


Citation: Harmonized Tariff Schedule, January 1989, Chapter 91, Additional U.S. Notes, Paragraph 4. Again, the duty itself is extremely complicated, but the number of adjustments does not enter into it. The number of jewels does, with the main boundary of importance being whether the movement has more than 17 jewels, etc.

This is much later than I suspected--I had thought these requirements ended soon after watch mass production ceased in the USA, which would have been about a decade earlier.

The United States International Trade Commission keeps an archive of tariff schedules back to that 1987 version, here.

Rick "respectfully submitted" Denney
 

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Interesting info.

Thanks for posting
Adam
 

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MARKING TIME: US Watch Movement Import Codes of 1936
Originally published 25 April 2020 © Tick Talk

The mention of “US import codes” surely brings to mind the 3-letter inscriptions found on balance bridges (cocks) of vintage wrist and pocket watches for most vintage watch enthusiasts. Having recently gone down the rabbit hole of researching the code VXC, I was mildly surprised by the variety of opinions and paucity of facts on the origin and meaning of these ubiquitous marks. Permit me to share what Mr. Google and I found after a few days of collaboration.

A overview of these markings can be found in the War Changes in Industry Report No. 20; Watches, published by the US Tariff Commission in 1947. This series of reports was commissioned to assess the status of key domestic industries and the probable effects of postwar foreign trade and competition.

The report begins its review of the measures implemented for marking imported watch movements in the United States with the Tariff Act of 1930, also known as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act after its sponsors. This act required that movements be “indelibly stamped” with the country of manufacture, name of manufacturer or importer/assembler, number of jewels, and if “unadjusted”. This act did not create the import codes, however.

The report leaps ahead to 1936, when a reciprocal trade agreement with Switzerland came into effect. This agreement saw the reduction of several tariffs applied to Swiss watches. In a declaration annexed to this agreement, the Swiss government agreed to mandate and supervise the marking of watches and movements exported to the United States to identify the importer. Here was the birth of the 3-letter codes!

It takes further digging to understand what happened between the Tariff Act of 1930 and the Switzerland Trade Agreement of 1936 to make such marks necessary. The duties imposed by the Tariff Act created an unintended but understandable increase in smuggling of watches and parts. Although numerous, customs seizures did not mitigate the problem. US law required that seized property be sold at public auction, so the watches entered the domestic market regardless, to the detriment of both US and Swiss manufacturers.

At first, the watch importers voluntarily accepted limited regulation under the 1934 Code of Fair Competition for the Assembled Watch Industry, which included identifying marks on movements (unspecified but likely those already mandated by Smoot-Hawley). The watch assembly industry developed in response to tariffs on complete watches and was comprised of companies which brought in watch movements at more favourable rates to be cased-up domestically for sale as complete watches. Their representative was the American Watch Assemblers’ Association, headquartered in New York City.

This did not seem to have the desired effect and the US government was set to respond with formal legislation. The Watch-Smuggling Act was drafted as bill H. R. 9071 to deal with large scale criminal traffic in watches, watch movements, and parts. Under section 2 of this Act, watches would be required to have a “mark or symbol” assigned by the Treasury, identifying the licensed importer.

The House Ways and Means Committee recommended passage of the bill in a report dated 9 August 1935, offering the following endorsement:
These provisions will permit legitimate imports to be distinguished in the trade and by Government agents from watches, etc., that have been smuggled into the country, and will thus result in denying to smuggled watches, etc., access to legitimate channels of trade within this country which they now enjoy.

While the Swiss government, through their industry representative the Chambre suisse de l’horlogerie, supported the marking requirements of the draft bill, they were concerned about other aspects. The American Watch Assemblers’ Association, representing about 100 firms with strong business and family ties to Swiss watch manufacturing, had, at Senate hearings into the Watch-Smuggling Act, strongly objected to its proposed administrative system of import licensing as being both ineffective and inefficient.

Swiss representatives instead proposed their own system of control over the exportation of watches and watch movements. The Swiss originally suggested marking watches and movements with exporters’ symbols, however, the US responded in favour of identifying importers. The Swiss were ready to accept with one proviso. In a memorandum dated 22 October 1935, the US State Department Division of Trade Agreements reviewed the negotiations and observed; “…the Swiss would make their plan conditional upon our guarantee that the Watch Smuggling Bill would not be enacted into law.”

Applying those provisions would, instead, occur within the 1936 trade agreement when this clause which came into effect on 1 May 1936:
3. Watches and watch movements exported from Switzerland to the United States shall be permanently marked with a distinguishing mark distinct for each importer in the United States. Current lists of such marks, and the names and addresses of the persons to whom allocated, shall be furnished by the Swiss Government to the American Legation at Bern.

This agreement apparently had the desired effect on smuggling, as described in the 1937 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Treasury:
In distinct contrast to recent years, no substantial seizures of smuggled watch movements were made. This is attributable to the efficiency of the system of marking watches instituted by the Swiss Government authorities in connection with the reciprocal trade agreement with that country…

The 1947 War Changes in Industry Report No. 20 identified “the Swiss Watch Chamber” (la Chambre suisse de l’horlogerie) as the organization designated by the Swiss Government to assign importers’ symbols and subsequently register them with the United States Treasury.

The report also commented on the treatment of Swiss watches imported from third countries (which also explains the dubious quality of some of the marks found on otherwise genuine watches):
Customs authorities permit importers to make the necessary markings on watch movements in the custom-houses. The methods of engraving generally employed by importers on such occasions result in many movements being damaged in the marking process. Small particles of metal often get into the movement; and often balance staffs and winding stems are broken.

Ranfft’s website lists 348 US import codes, drawn from Kathleen Pritchard’s Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775 to 1975. Pritchard appears to have developed her list, at least partially, from observations of individual watches as often only the brand is listed, which led to early assumptions these were manufacturer’s codes.

The number of codes would have accumulated over time as new companies entered the business. VXC, unlisted by Ranfft, can be found on some Vacheron & Constantin timepieces before 1938 when Edmond E. Robert of New York was their American agent and importer. I’m sure there are others; OXW on Omega, for example. The same importer may also have handled brands from several different manufacturers and their code would have been applied to all, such as HOX on Patek Philippe and IWC.

As to when the requirement for import codes on watch movements ended; I have no definitive answer but can relate the following chronology. In 1954, President Eisenhower triggered the escape clause of the 1936 Trade Agreement and raised tariff rates on Swiss watches, citing injury to the domestic watch industry. Lyndon Johnson reapplied the previous lower rates in 1967 when it was found that import relief did not stop the decline of domestic watch production. Johnson’s proclamation also removed the escape clause so that future amendments would require bilateral negotiations. Additional trade concessions followed when watches became scheduled under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, resulting in a 50% reduction in tariffs on imported watches by 1 January 1972.

With the lack of domestic industry and reduction of tariffs, the purpose of import codes to counter smuggling would appear to have evaporated. Recalling that the agreement for import codes was an addendum and not integral to the 1936 Trade Agreement, there may exist a document which had the effect of cancelling the program, or maybe not. I am still looking…

I hope this review answers most questions relating to the origin of US import codes for Swiss watch movements. I have been stymied in attempts to locate online copies of the original lists of importers, and their assigned codes, as provided by la Chambre suisse de l’horlogerie to the US Treasury Department. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has knowledge.

15594637
 
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