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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Why is everyone in France talking about Mont d’Or cheese today?

Mont d’Or cheese is a French treasure you can only find at a specific time of the year. But why's that?

Why is everyone in France talking about Mont d’Or cheese today?
A Mont d'Or cheese. Photo: AFP

Today is the day!

September 10th marks the beginning of the sale of the famous Mont d’Or cheese in France.

This rich cheese with a rich history borrows its name from the highest point of the Doubs département (located in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in Eastern France) and goes way back since it was already mentioned in the 1280 Encyclopédie des Fromages (the Cheese Encyclopeadia).  


You can also find it under the name Vacherin, but rather in Switzerland than in its original region.

Though it is much loved, the Mont d’Or cheese is also much awaited as it can only be savoured from September 10th to May. Here’s why.

A seasonal cheese

The Mont d’Or was first created after peasants looked to create a smaller cheese with their “winter milk”, as the production was reduced during the coldest months. A raw milk that, according to the Fromagerie La Ferté, gives it a “texture that offers a soft and creamy consistency without being too runny”.

It can only be produced from August 15th to March 31st, hence why its appearances in dairies are seasonal.

Consequently, it became a winter cheese and could not be produced in the summer since it can’t handle hot temperatures. During spring and summer, where milk is more abundant, Comté cheese is made. 

READ ALSO: This is how much the French are obsessed with cheese

Specific production process

But other than being unobtainable during the sunny months, its making process also follows a list of specifications since it has both the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée and the Appelation d’Origine Protégée.

These designations attest to the authenticity of the product and of the savoir-faire of its producers while protecting its name not only in France but in the entire European Union.

The Mont d’Or can then only be produced in a designated area of 95 Haut-Doubs municipalities – all at least 700 metres above sea level – and made at of raw milk from grass-fed Montbeliarde or French Simmental herds.

A woman cutting the spruce straps that circle the Mont d'Or cheese. Photo: AFP

The cheese is also supported by a circle of spruce wood to provide it from running. After at least a 12-day maturing (during which the cheese is scrubbed daily with salted water), the Mont d’Or terminates its ripening process in a slightly smaller spruce box that gives it its wrinkled crust as a nod to the mountain it took its name from.

But these many specificities do not prevent producers from delivering (on average) 5,500 tonnes of Mont d’Or each year.