It seems that Claro watch is having finacial difficulties. The company based in Bienne, Switzerland, called a staff meeting on Monday in their Bellinzona branch to let all 18 employees know about their immediate dismissal.
The director is reported to have packed his vehicle with watches before leaving, and the whole factory has been put under seal by the local police force. The local union has filed complaint, asking that the factory machines (estimated to be worth CHF 500,000) be seized and sold for cash to provide a severance for the 18 persons who are now unemployed.
Owned by the von Burg family, Claro watch has become known on horological forums these past years for exploiting a loophole in the Swiss Made designation. Claro sources movement blanks from Asia and finishes them in Switzerland, which allows them to use and sell the resuulting calibres for assembly in Swiss Made watches. Their known customres are Zodiac, Jacques Leman and Migros.
Even though the practice is perfectly legal and does comply with all requirements of the Swiss Made designation, detractors consider it a form of cheating. With a few exception, most Swiss movements are usually designed and built from scratch in Switzerland, which obviously allows for lower margins than in Asia.
Not so long ago, TAG Heuer stirred a little bit of fuss on watch forums by being very coy about its recycling of a fine Seiko calibre. A lot of water has gone under the bridge and they have recently started selling watches with this calibre without any opposition.
No matter how much margin Claro managed to keep by outsourcing in Asia, it seems like it wasn’t enough to help them stay afloat.