Security control of novelty watches

Stylish watches in terms of regulation[1] placed on the market must comply with Annex XVII of the European regulations known as REACH[2]In order to protect the health of consumers, it sets limits on the presence of certain chemicals in watch cases and bracelets that come into contact with the skin (cf. below). In 2020, watches sold for less than 50 euros accounted for 6.6%.[3] in value of watch sales and 47% in volume. In 2021, DGCCRF conducted a survey of 189 enterprises to verify compliance with these regulations. An average number of anomalies were detected during documentary checks. On the other hand, almost half of the products sampled[4] declared unsuitable and dangerous.

New survey in the field of delicious hours

This was the first national survey conducted by the DGCCRF on the limits set by the REACH regulation in the field of chemical safety of novelty watches. These restrictions are related to the presence of lead, nickel, cadmium, chromium VI (leather) and azo dyes (fabrics and leather) in watch cases and bracelets that come into contact with the skin.

Lead is a reproductive toxin and a suspected carcinogen. Cadmium is carcinogenic and suspected to be mutagenic and toxic to reproduction, while nickel has skin sensitizing properties and is also suspected to be carcinogenic.

In total, about 460 inspections were carried out mainly at the distribution stage and for about 11% at the stage of first placement in the national market (producers, importers and introducers). Only a small part of the audited enterprises (12%) presented anomalies mainly due to the absence or insufficient technical documentation (where available) for the luxury watches they market (general REACH compliance certificates of suppliers).

About half of the sampled products were declared non-compliant and dangerous.

As a result of the analyzes conducted by the Joint Laboratory Service (SCL) on 59 products, it was found that about 29 products are non-compliant and dangerous. the bar of the bridge of the bracelet.

For these products known to be non-compliant and unsafe, operators have implemented voluntary recalls/recalls (published on the RappelConso website) or destroyed the products.

Make professionals aware of the dangers associated with the presence of heavy metals in fancy watches

In 2021, many investigators conducted awareness-raising work with inspected professionals to raise awareness of the dangers of heavy metals in the luxury watches they sell and to remind them of their regulatory obligations regarding self-inspection. and to inform authorities about the risks provided for in the Consumer Code (Article L. 423-3). Subsequently, warnings were sent to professionals for violations, mainly due to the lack of technical documentation and/or lack of self-inspection, failure to indicate a recall measure for non-conforming and unsafe products, failure to indicate key features. lack of name or species of animal on the label of watches, leather straps.

Actions have been taken to eliminate the detected defects and violations

Administrative police measures were also implemented to ensure that operators comply with their obligations regarding chemical safety, product tracking, and distance selling of leather goods on the Internet. Sanctions such as administrative reports, administrative fines and criminal reports have also been imposed on some experts, mainly for non-compliance with the REACH regulation, for exceeding the permissible limits for nickel, lead and cadmium.

An area to watch

Research has shown that most marketers of novelty watches do not do any self-auditing. The investigators therefore reminded the operators of their obligations regarding the safety of the products they place on the market and encouraged them to organize further self-inspections as required by the regulation.

It also revealed the almost complete ignorance of distributors about the regulations regarding the chemical safety of watches, who in most cases receive no information on the subject from their suppliers. Sellers also trust their suppliers without interfering with the security issues of their products. DGCCRF will continue its vigil on this sector and errant operators over the next few years.

[1] By “dress watches” we mean entry-level watches that are sold at lower prices, analogous to “costume jewelry.”

[3] Source: “Watches and Jewelery Sales in France at FRANCECLAT 2020”

[4] Products that do not comply with REACH regulations are targeted.

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