Guidelines for how companies advertise and market the metal content, movement and performance of watches are to be updated to reflect modern manufacturing processes and, wherever reasonable, to conform to international standards, the Federal Trade Commission announced today. The FTC has proposed numerous changes to the guides, which the Commission adopted in 1968 to prevent misrepresentations and provide consumers with helpful purchasing information. The Commission seeks comments from the public regarding the changes, and whether the Watch Guides instead should be rescinded in their entirety, until Sept. 2, 1997.
Review of the Watch Guides is part of the FTC's ongoing regulatory reform program, designed to revise or, as necessary, rescind outdated rules and guides. To date under this program, the FTC has reviewed 19 guides of which it has repealed 15; and 27 rules of which it has repealed 12.
Among other things, the proposed amendments address the definition for "quartz" movements, which are included in the bulk of all watches sold today; markings of the metal content of watches; minimum requirements for the thickness and fineness of gold plating; representations regarding shock-resistant, water-resistant, and antimagnetic watches; and disclosures regarding second-hand or used parts. The proposed amendments would delete requirements as to foreign country-of-origin markings on watches, in part because they duplicate U.S. Customs regulations. As amended, the FTC Guides for the Watch Industry still would contain a general provision stating that it is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent, among other things, the grade, quality, estimated life, composition, accuracy, repairability, conformance to standards, country-of-origin or other material aspects of a watch or watch part.
The Commission also is soliciting comment regarding whether there is a continuing need for the Watch Guides. In particular, the FTC seeks comments on whether international standards provide sufficient guidance to industry members and whether market mechanisms, such as manufacturer reputation and self-regulation, are sufficient to protect consumers.
The Commission vote to announce the proposed amendments for public comment was 5-0. A notice discussing them will be published in Wednesday's Federal Register. Comments should be identified "Watch Guides -- 16 CFR Part 245 -- Comment" and addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
Copies of the Federal Register notice are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
(FTC Matter No. G611002)