Why a Swiss company created a watch made from cheese

A Swiss watchmaker on Thursday unveiled a one-million-euro "Swiss Mad" wristwatch with a case made of local winter cheese and a dial recalling the nation's distinctive red-and-white flag.

Why a Swiss company created a watch made from cheese
Photo: H Moser
The tongue-in-cheek edition by H.Moser is a satirical comment on new strictures placed on watchmakers using the “Swiss Made” label, who now have to source 60 percent of the components domestically against 50 percent earlier.
The new law came into force at the start of this year. 
In a statement H Moser — whose watches are over 95 percent Swiss — said the law was “too lenient, providing no guarantee, creating confusion and encouraging abuses of the system”.
The company “would have welcomed a much stricter standard, matching the extremely high criteria that it measures itself against,” it had said earlier.
H.Moser has dropped the “Swiss Made” moniker from its own products in protest against a law it says is “meaningless” and said it would also release “the most Swiss watch ever created”.
The Schaffhausen-based company said it was responding  “with derision” to the new rules.
The dial is smoked red with the four white lacquered indexes indicating every quarter of an hour.
The cheese fringing the case is Vacherin Mont d'Or medaille d'or, which is made in winter, and comes from the same village as Moser CEO Edouard Meylan.
It is fortified with resin to hold up to use and time.
The strap is made from cowhide, “the obvious choice”, said the company.
The steep price tag — 1,081,291 francs ($1.0 million) — is a reference to the date the Swiss Confederation was set up: August 1st, 1291.
“All proceeds from the sale of this watch will be used to create a fund to support independent Swiss watchmaking suppliers currently suffering under the difficult economic situation and outsourcing to Asia,” Meylan said.
The “Swiss Mad Watch” will be presented at the four-day international luxury watch show —  Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie — which will be held in Geneva from Monday.

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Coronavirus in Switzerland: Is it still OK to have a cheese fondue?

As colder weather is approaching, Swiss health experts are answering a very pertinent question: is it safe to eat the cheese fondue during the pandemic? Seriously.

Coronavirus in Switzerland: Is it still OK to have a cheese fondue?
Whether in the water or on land, fondue is safe to eat. Photo by AFP

Though it may seem like a cheesy concern, it is easy to see why some people may be weary of dipping their forks and pieces of bread into a communal pot.

But experts say this practice is perfectly safe.

“A risk associated with fondue? Certainly not”, Didier Pittet, the head of the infection prevention and control service at Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), said in an interview. 

That’s because cheese in a fondue is melted at about 80 degrees, destroying pathogenic germs.

This pertains to the co-called ‘half-and-half fondue’, which usually contains Vacherin, Gruyère and white wine, as well as to the Valais version where raclette cheese is added.

READ MORE: Switzerland begins criminal investigation against cheesemaker over multiple deaths 

But what about the vacherin fondue, which is eaten warm and for which the temperature should not exceed 50 degrees?

Yup, that is safe too.

“The fondue is hot and the virus does not survive in it,” said Yann Hulmann, spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

“Furthermore, the virus is not transmitted through the digestive tract, ” he added.

Hulmann pointed out, however, that while the fondue is safe to eat, the risk lies in how people gather around the pot.

“As soon as we decide to share a fondue, we should not sit less than 1.5 metres from the other guests”, he said.

“From this point of view, if someone is contagious, the risk of others being infected is high”, he added.

Philippe Bardet, the director of the Cheese Professionals Association of the Gruyère region, told 24 Heures that while eating a cheese fondue, everyone keeps their own forks. 

However, this is not the case with the Chinese fondue, where forks are left in the pot while the meat is cooking, so there is a chance of taking someone else’s fork by mistake.

Generally speaking, however, there’s no evidence to date that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.