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HQ 951467

June 26, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 951467 EJD


TARIFF NO: 9113.90.80; 9111.90.70

Vincent C. LeRoy
Manager Customs Planning
TIMEX Corporation
Waterbury, Connecticut 06722

RE: Leather watch straps with spring-Bars; Plastic watch straps with spring-bars; HQ 089584

Dear Mr. LeRoy:

This is our response to your letter dated March 31, 1992, concerning the tariff classification of certain leather and plastic watch straps with spring-bars, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the Unites States (HTSUS). Samples were submitted for examination.


Seven (7) different samples were forwarded for examination. Two were plastic watch straps and five were leather watch straps, all with spring-bars inserted in the ends of both sections of each strap. The spring-bars are used to attached the straps to the end lugs of a watch case. The straps and spring-bars are manufactured in various countries, including England, France, Austria, Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China.

The fit of the spring-bars to the watch straps is a tight, friction-fit and the spring-bars will not separate from the straps during handling and shipping.

You contend that these watch straps and spring-bars are classifiable as composite goods under subheading 9113.90.80, HTSUS.


What is the proper classification of the leather and plastic watch straps with spring-bars under the HTSUS?


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

Watch strap and spring-bar combinations are composite goods that are prima facie classifiable under two headings under the HTSUS. Classification for these goods is under Chapter 91, HTSUS, which pertains to watches and parts thereof.

The Explanatory Notes (ENs) are the official interpretation of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HCDCS) at the international level. They provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of the merchandise under the system. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to be looked to for the interpretation of the HTSUS. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 24, 1988).

EN 91.13 states that "[t]his heading covers all kinds of watch straps, watch bands and watch bracelets, i.e., all devices for fastening watches to the wrist." HCDCS, p. 1551. This EN at p. 1552, further provides that "[w]atch straps, watch bands and watch bracelets may be of any material, for example, base metal, precious metal, leather, plastics or textile material." (Emphasis added.)

Following the above-cited explanatory note, it is apparent that the leather and plastic watch straps are classifiable under 9113.90.80, HTSUS, which provides for "[w]atch straps...[o]ther ...[o]ther," and the spring-bars are classifiable under 9111.90.70, HTSUS, which provides for "[w]atch cases and parts thereof...[p]arts...[o]ther...[o]ther."

However, GRI 3(b) states:

When...goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale...shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable."

We are of the opinion that the essential character of the subject composite good is derived from the leather or plastic watch straps, based on the size, weight and value of the straps compared to the spring-bars and based on the function of the straps versus the spring-bars.

The subject composite goods are properly classified under subheading 9113.90.80, HTSUS, with a rate of duty of 2.8 percent ad valorem.


The leather and rubber watch straps, combined with the spring-bars inserted in the ends of both sections of each strap, are properly classifiable within subheading 9113.90.80, HTSUS, which provides for "[w]atch straps... [o]ther...[o]ther."


John Durant, Director

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