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Patek Philippe Nautilus 5980/1AR-001 New Gold/Steel 40.5mm Automatic
TOP
Patek Philippe Nautilus Steel and Rose Gold Blue Dial
R 1 493 577
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
218
US
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5726A-001 Unworn Steel 40.5mm Automatic
TOP
Patek Philippe Nautilus Stainless Steel 5726A-001 Excellent 2017
R 882 976
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
218
US
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duoface 256.8.75 Very good Steel 23mm Manual winding
TOP
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Lady Duetto Duoface Original Diamonds
R 71 761
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
218
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 26401RO.OO.A002CA.02 Unworn Rose gold 44mm Automatic
TOP
Audemars Piguet ROYAL OAK OFFSHORE CHRONOGRAPH WATCH-BLACK...
R 663 444
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
218
US
Rolex GMT-Master II 116710LN New Steel 40mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex GMT-Master II 116710LN NEW 2019
R 201 289
Verified Dealer
26
US
Rolex Datejust 178288 New Yellow gold 31mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex Datejust 31, new, closing down sale - off. pr.: 37.700 CHF
R 370 992
Verified Dealer
30
CH
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 26401RO.OO.A002CA.01 Very good Rose gold 44mm Automatic
TOP
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 26401RO.OO.A002CA.01
R 579 835
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
455
UK
Rolex GMT-Master II 116710LN Very good Steel 40mm Automatic
Rolex GMT Master II Ref. 116710LN
R 180 972
Verified Dealer
394
NL
Rolex Daytona 116589 SACI Very good White gold 40mm Automatic
Rolex Daytona 116589 SACI Box&Paper 2004
R 1 303 331
Verified Dealer
2016
MC
Rolex Yacht-Master 40 116622 Very good Steel 40mm Automatic
Rolex Yacht-Master 40 blu dial - full set
R 161 049
Verified Dealer
15
IT
Girard Perregaux WW.TC 49805 Very good Yellow gold 43mm Automatic
Girard Perregaux WW.TC
R 212 518
Verified Dealer
 
DE
Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5968A-001 Very good Steel 42.2mm Automatic
TOP
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph 5968A-001
R 1 271 336
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
663
US
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Quartz CAZ101N.FC8243 Unworn Steel 43mm Quartz South Africa, Kwazulu Natal
TAG Heuer Formula 1 Gulf Special Edition Chronograph
R 17 990
Private Seller
ZA
Rolex Yacht-Master 37 268621 New Gold/Steel 37mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex Yacht-Master 37mm UNWORN 2019 Two-Tone 268621
R 202 037
Verified Dealer
26
US
Rolex Lady-Datejust 179178 New Yellow gold 26mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex Lady-Datejust 26, new, closing down sale - o.p.: 24.200 CHF
R 211 989
Verified Dealer
30
CH
Patek Philippe Calatrava 3998P Very good Platinum 34mm Automatic
TOP
Patek Philippe Calatrava 3998P
R 363 626
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
455
UK
Rolex Submariner Date 16610LV Very good Steel 40mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex Submariner Date LV Kermit Rehaut Card 2008 Top Conditions
R 227 444
Verified Dealer
194
AT
Breitling Navitimer Heritage A13324121B1A1 Unworn Steel 41mm Automatic
Breitling Navitimer A13324121B1A1
R 66 412
Verified Dealer
2016
MC
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar 26574PT.OO.1220PT.01 Very good Platinum 41mm Automatic
TOP
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Platinum
R 2 825 509
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
218
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 14790ST Very good Steel 36mm Automatic
TOP
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 14790ST Full set, mint cond.
R 224 140
Verified Dealer
262
NL
Patek Philippe Annual Calendar 5035P New Platinum 37mm Automatic
TOP
Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Platinum NEW 2019
R 430 016
Verified Dealer
100
CH
Rolex Explorer II 216570-0001 Unworn Steel 42mm Automatic South Africa, Cape Town
Rolex Explorer II
R 126 346
Private Seller
ZA
Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR New Steel 40mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex GMT-Master II Batman NEW 2019 Jubilee Bracelet
R 267 886
Verified Dealer
26
US
Hublot Big Bang Tutti Frutti 361.CO.1110.LR.1906 New Ceramic 38mm Quartz
TOP
Hublot Big Bang Tutti Frutti, closing down sale - o.p. 17.900 CHF
R 158 988
Verified Dealer
30
CH
Breguet Type XX - XXI - XXII 3810BR 92 9ZU Very good Rose gold Automatic
TOP
Breguet Type XXI 3810BR 92 9ZU 18KT RG
R 176 801
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
206
UK
Chopard Your Hour 136621-1001 Good White gold 24.5mm Quartz
TOP
Chopard 18k W/G MOP Dial Diamond Bezel H Watch B&P 136621-1001
R 136 605
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
455
UK
Hublot Big Bang 38 mm 361.SX.1270.RX.1104 New Steel 38mm Quartz
TOP
Hublot Big Bang Steel Diamonds 38mm - watch on stock in Zurich
R 117 359
Verified Dealer
37
CH
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5980R-001 Very good Rose gold 40.5mm Automatic
TOP
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5980R-001
R 1 495 822
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
663
US
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph 26331ST New Steel 41mm Automatic
TOP
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak - Blue Dial - Black dlc - Limited...
R 562 624
Verified Dealer
35
IT
Patek Philippe Calatrava 2450 Very good Yellow gold Manual winding
TOP
Patek Philippe Calatrava Yellow Gold
R 147 766
Verified Dealer
100
CH
TAG Heuer Monaco CW2113-0 Fair Steel 38mm Automatic South Africa, Pietermaritzburg
TAG Heuer Monaco
R 45 000
Private Seller
ZA
Rolex Day-Date 40 228235 New Rose gold 40mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex Day-Date Everose Green Roman Dial 228235 NEW
R 572 802
Verified Dealer
681
NL
Breguet Classique 8788BR/29/986 DD00 New Rose gold 36mm Automatic
TOP
Breguet Classique, new, closing down sale - off. price: 29.000...
R 242 275
Verified Dealer
30
CH
Rolex Datejust II 116300 Very good Steel 41mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex Datejust II 41mm Iced Out Watch Rainbow Bezel Diamonds11...
R 374 142
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
343
US
Patek Philippe Calatrava 3468 Very good Yellow gold 33mm Manual winding
TOP
Patek Philippe Doublesigned: Somazzi-Dial Calatrava
R 121 145
Verified Dealer
19
CH
Hublot Big Bang 44 mm 301.SM.1770.RX New Steel 44mm Automatic
TOP
Hublot Big Bang Steel Ceramic 44mm - watch on stock in Zurich
R 146 131
Verified Dealer
37
CH
Patek Philippe 5980/1R-001 Very good Rose gold 40.5mm Automatic
TOP
Patek Philippe Complications Nautilus Chronograph 5980/1R-001
R 2 393 764
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
663
US
Rolex GMT-Master II 116710 New Steel 40mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex GMT-Master II - Limited Edition /10
R 323 210
Verified Dealer
35
IT
Breitling Transocean Unitime Pilot AB0510U6/BC26 New Steel 46mm Automatic
TOP
Breitling Titanium Transocean Worldtime Pilot NEW
R 81 354
Verified Dealer
100
CH
Breitling Navitimer 806 Good Steel 40mm Manual winding South Africa, Pretoria
Breitling Navitimer 806
R 78 690
Private Seller
ZA
Rolex Day-Date 40 228235 New Rose gold 40mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex Day-Date Everose Choco Dial 228235 NEW IN STICKERS
R 556 199
Verified Dealer
681
NL
Breguet Classique 5178BR/29/9V6.D000 New Rose gold 38mm Automatic
TOP
Breguet Classique, new, closing downsale - off. price: 26.700 CHF
R 211 989
Verified Dealer
30
CH
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph 26320ST.OO.1220ST.01 Very good Steel 41mm Automatic
TOP
Audemars Piguet All Black Custom Royal Oak Chronograph ...
R 419 040
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
343
US
Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse 3544 Very good White gold 33mm Manual winding
TOP
Patek Philippe White Golden Brother of Ellipse d'Or
R 143 860
Verified Dealer
19
CH
Hublot Big Bang 44 mm 301.SB.131.RX New Steel 44mm Automatic
TOP
Hublot Big Bang Steel Ceramic 44mm - watch on stock in Zurich
R 148 403
Verified Dealer
37
CH
Patek Philippe Chronograph 5170J-001 Very good Yellow gold 39mm Manual winding
TOP
Patek Philippe Complications Chronograph 5170J-001
R 657 742
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
663
US
Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5167A New Steel 40mm Automatic
TOP
Patek Philippe Aquanaut - Limited Edition /10
R 666 940
Verified Dealer
35
IT
Rolex Lady-Datejust 69173 Very good Gold/Steel 36mm Automatic
Rolex Model 69173 26mm Steel & Gold Datejust Black Pyramid...
R 59 788
Verified Dealer
10
US
Omega Seamaster 2262.50 Very good Steel 36mm Quartz South Africa, Randburg
Omega Seamaster
R 29 279
Private Seller
ZA
Rolex Daytona 116520 New Steel 40mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex Daytona White APH Dial NOS 116520 IN STICKERS
R 430 846
Verified Dealer
681
NL
Rolex Datejust 116188 New Yellow gold 36mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex Datejust 36, new, closing down sale - off. price 28.400 CHF
R 257 418
Verified Dealer
30
CH
Rolex Datejust 126303 Unworn Gold/Steel 41mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex WITH DIAMONDS - DIAMONDS EVERYWHERE
R 478 887
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
343
US
Patek Philippe Gondolo 5010 Very good Yellow gold 25mm Manual winding
TOP
Patek Philippe Gondolo, Full Set
R 166 575
Verified Dealer
19
CH
IWC Aquatimer Chronograph IW376905 Unworn Rose gold 44mm Automatic
TOP
IWC Aquatimer Chronograph
R 166 575
Verified Dealer
56
CH
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 311.33.40.30.02.001 Very good Steel 39.7mm Manual winding
TOP
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Chronograph CK 2998 Limited...
R 104 012
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
663
US
Rolex Air King Date 5700 Good Steel 34mm Automatic South Africa, Newcastle
Rolex Air King Date Ref 5700 Cal 1520 Box & Papers
R 56 870
Verified Dealer
ZA
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 3573.50 Very good Steel 42mm
Omega Speedmaster "sapphire Sandwich" 3573.50 Stainless Steel
R 59 070
Verified Dealer
US
IWC Porsche Design IW3702 Very good Titanium 42mm Automatic South Africa, Harkerville
IWC 3702 serial number: 2297099
R 41 904
Private Seller
ZA
Rolex Yacht-Master 16628 Very good Yellow gold 40mm Automatic
TOP
Rolex Yacht-Master Yellow Gold 16628
R 298 023
Verified Dealer
681
NL
Breguet Reine de Naples 8918BA.58864D00D New Yellow gold 36.5mm Automatic
TOP
Breguet Reine de Naples, new, closing down sale - o.p.: 33.000...
R 310 419
Verified Dealer
30
CH
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph 26331ST.OO.1220ST.02 Very good Steel 41mm Automatic
TOP
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph Fully Iced Out 26331ST.O...
R 673 456
Free shipping
Verified Dealer
343
US
Vacheron Constantin 2021 Good Yellow gold 27mm Manual winding
TOP
Vacheron Constantin Vintage Ellipse Legendary Manual Caliber
R 53 001
Verified Dealer
19
CH
Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu 415.EX.7179.VR.MXM19 New Ceramic 45mm Automatic
TOP
Hublot Big Bang Unico Sang Bleu Ceramic Blue 45 mm
R 288 891
Verified Dealer
744
UK
Chopard Mille Miglia 161293-5001 New Rose gold 44mm Automatic
Chopard Mille Miglia GTS Chrono
R 255 503
Verified Dealer
2629
DE
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Swiss Watches: World-Renowned Timepieces

Swiss watches are synonymous with precision and luxury. The most well-known names in the business, with few exceptions, all hail from this Alpine country. Rolex, Omega, IWC, and Breitling all represent tradition and high quality.


Everything to Know About Swiss Watches in This Article

  • Buying advice for Swiss-made watches
  • Watches in different price ranges
  • Manufacturers, collections, and models
  • History of the Swiss watch industry

Which Swiss Watch Should I Buy?

If you want to buy a Swiss watch, you have a wide range of options. The right way to find out which watch is best for you is to ask yourself the following question: How much do I want to spend?

A new, brand-name Swiss watch with a mechanical movement can cost as little as 1,000 euros. You can find watches from manufacturers such as Chronoswiss, Maurice Lacroix, Oris, and Raymond Weil in this price range. Some series from these manufacturers are more expensive, however. For example, Raymond Weil's Nabucco chronograph costs around 3,000 euros new with a titanium case. TAG Heuer and Tissot also have a large selection of watches available for less than 5,000 euros.

Rolex and Omega are probably the most well-known representatives of Swiss luxury watches. The legendary Omega Speedmaster Professional is available in many different variations for less than 5,000 euros. The version closest to the original Moonwatch chronograph, which you can find under reference number 311.30.42.30.01.005, costs around 3,500 euros and has a stainless steel case. The material certainly influences the price, as cases made of precious metals are much more expensive than those made of stainless steel.

An Omega diving watch from the Seamaster collection with a gold case costs around 15,000 euros. The Rolex Submariner without a date display and a stainless steel case costs around 6,500 euros new. You should be prepared to spend at least 23,000 euros for a yellow gold Submariner, and 25,000 euros for a Rolex Daytona.

Patek Philippe's Nautilus is one of the most sought-after and expensive stainless steel sports watches from Switzerland. Without any complications, the women's version costs 20,000 euros, and the men's 25,000 euros. With a white gold or platinum case, the price jumps to 140,000 euros. The Calatrava, also from Patek Philippe, is the definition of a classic, elegant dress watch. New, the most popular version costs around 15,000 euros.

If you decide to go with a watch from Breguet or Blancpain, expect prices over 100,000 euros. Cases made of precious metals, diamond-set cases and straps, and intricate complications such a tourbillon increase the value of such watches. The newcomer Hublot also has some watches in this price range. The futuristic MP-05 LaFerrari watch usually costs 200,000 euros. The version with a sapphire glass case is over double the price, costing more than 400,000 euros.


Watches: Iconic Exports

Watches are a defining part of Switzerland's cultural image. They're more iconic than the banks and the cheese; only chocolate ranked "more Swiss" than watches according to a survey of participants from 15 different countries.

About 30 million watches leave the production halls of this little Alpine country every year. The variety amongst these watches is impressive. They range from traditional gold watches with complications such as a:

  • Moon phase display
  • Perpetual calendar
  • Minute repeater
  • Double chronograph

to diving and pilot's watches. Some of the Swiss companies even produce high-tech smartwatches. Many of these watches function as status symbols, ignoring their actual intended functions. Many diving watches from the Seamaster and Submariner collections will never go underwater, and only a small number of the pilot's watches sold by IWC or Breitling are actually worn in the cockpit. These watches work equally well as a tool watch or a luxury lifestyle object.

There are also mass market affordable watches, such as the famous quartz-powered Swatch with its bright and colorful plastic case. There are now mechanical versions with a simple 51-piece movement. The typical Swatch looks somewhat cheap and is not taken seriously by many watch fans, but certain models have sold at high prices as vintage watches. Furthermore, the Swatch is significantly responsible for helping the Swiss watch industry survive the Quartz Crisis of the 1970s and 80s. The Swatch watch, trendy and colorful, broke Swiss watches out of their conservative, stuffy image and attracted a new target audience. Above all, young people were attracted to this bright and simple watch.

However, luxury watches are what people think of when they think of Swiss watches. Switzerland leads the world in watch exports if you don't rank by number of timepieces. While only about 2% of watches sold worldwide come from Switzerland, they are worth 60% of the total value.

Many well-known brands with long watchmaking traditions belong to the Swatch Group (market share: 18%) or to luxury goods concerns like Richemont (market share: 16%) or Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH, market share: 5%). Rolex is the largest independent Swiss luxury watch manufacturer (market share: 12%). Their independent status greatly contributes to their outstanding reputation.


Overview of the Most Important Swiss Luxury Watch Manufacturers

Manufacturer Founding year Location of headquarters Parent group
Audemars Piguet 1875 Le Brassus Independent
Blancpain 1735 Le Brassus Swatch Group
Breguet 1775 L'Abbaye Swatch Group
Breitling 1884 Grenchen Independent
Chopard 1860 Geneva Independent
Hublot 1980 Nyon LVMH
IWC 1868 Schaffhausen Richemont
Jaeger-LeCoultre 1833 Le Sentier Richemont
Longines 1832 Saint-Imier Swatch Group
Omega 1848 Biel/Bienne Swatch Group
Patek Philippe 1851 Geneva Independent
Rolex 1905 Geneva Independent
TAG Heuer 1860 La Chaux-de-Fonds LVMH
Vacheron Constantin 1755 Plan-les-Ouates Richemont
Zenith 1865 Le Locle LVMH

Rolex

Rolex is number one amongst the large manufacturers. The Geneva-based manufacturer has been in business since 1905. Rolex produces some of the most famous and beloved watch models in the world, such as the Submariner, Daytona, and Datejust.

The Submariner is the definition of a diving watch, the Daytona is one of the most famous chronographs, and the Datejust embodies elegance. Rolex's pilot's watch is the Air King, and their GMT Master II displays a second time zone. With the invention of the perpetual rotor, Rolex significantly contributed to the breakthrough of the automatic watch in the 1930s. Every year, the manufacturer sells around 800,000 watches featuring their iconic five-point crown. Rolex doesn't publish any official sales numbers. However, since Rolex has their watches certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), we can calculate how many Rolex watches are produced based on the COSC's publications.


Omega

The most famous man to wear a Rolex is undoubtedly James Bond. He completes many of his missions with a Submariner on his wrist. However, the British secret agent switched to Omega, a member of the Swatch Group, in 1995. Omega plays a central role in the Swatch Group's company strategy, as they see the brand as a strong competitor for Rolex. Rolex isn't the only manufacturer with legendary watch models; Omega has their own to be proud of. The Seamaster is a diving watch collection that's been in production since 1948. The famous French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau wore a Seamaster. Another iconic Omega watch is the Speedmaster Professional. "Speedy," as it's nicknamed by fans, was the official NASA watch on the Apollo missions, making it the first watch on the Moon in 1969. The so-called Moonwatch is available today, almost unchanged from the original version, but now features a modern Co-Axial caliber and comes in many special limited editions. There's also the De Ville series, which showcases Omega's classic side.


International Watch Company (IWC)

IWC, based in Schaffhausen, also offers elegant Swiss watches, such as the Portugieser. They're even more famous for their pilot's watches, though; their Big Pilot watch and the Mark series are considered excellent pilot's watches. The Mark 11 was the official service watch of Royal Air Force pilots for decades.


Breitling

Breitling is a strong competitor for IWC in the realm of pilot's watches. Breitling's Navitimer is considered one of the most important pilot's watches. The watch, which was introduced in 1952, has a special slide rule function. It has two logarithmic scales on the dial which you can turn to perform various calculations, such as distance and fuel consumption. Breitling also offers powerful diving watches with their Superocean series and some versions of the Avenger. Rolex, Omega, IWC, and Breitling are all considered to be on the same level, thus Breitling also has a conservative, elegant line as well, the Transocean. Besides mechanical timepieces, Breitling also offers quartz watches with refined technology, such as the Emergency with an integrated distress beacon.


Patek Philippe

One rung higher on the luxury watch ladder is Patek Philippe. It's clear from the start that this manufacturer is a bit different: Most of their cases are made of solid gold. In the Swiss watch industry, steel cases are used around 50% of the time. Precious metals like gold and platinum are only used around 2% of the time. Patek's Calatrava collection is a symbol of the company and the epitome of a stylish dress watch. This watch collection debuted in 1932 and was inspired by the Bauhaus art movement. Patek Philippe's Nautilus also has a special position in their portfolio. It's a stainless steel sports watch waterproof to 120 m (12 bar) – all unusual qualities for a Patek watch. The company has a long history of watchmaking. The independent family business has existed under this name since 1851. Until 2009, Patek Philippe used the Geneva Seal as a symbol of high Swiss quality. Now, the company uses their own seal with even stricter standards.


Blancpain, Breguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre

Blancpain and Breguet have been in business even longer. Today, they're both members of the Swatch Group. Abraham-Louis Breguet founded his company in 1775. He's responsible for countless important watchmaking inventions, such as the tourbillon. Blancpain has been around since 1735. Their most famous series is the Fifty Fathoms diving watch. Brands such as Patek Philippe, Breguet, and Blancpain, are representative of the conservative values of the Swiss watch industry. This applies to Jaeger-LeCoultre as well. This manufacturer has been producing high-quality watches since 1833. Their Reverso is one of the most popular rectangular watches.


Hublot

Hublot takes an entirely different approach. This relatively new manufacturer plays the role of the rebel most excellently. One distinctive Hublot feature is their unusual, square-edged porthole design, which occasionally borders on the bizarre. Legibility isn't Hublot's main concern. Instead, they show a preference for the use of unusual materials such as ceramic or titanium. With their patented Magic Gold alloy, Hublot broke new ground. Magic Gold is an incredibly scratch-resistant alloy composed of gold and ceramic. Magic Gold comes quite close to the ideal, everlasting case material. Hublot was founded in 1980. In 2005, under new leadership, they introduced the Big Bang series. The Big Bang caused a sharp increase in sales, catapulting this Genevan manufacturer into the same league as other well-known Swiss brands. The somewhat calmer Hublot alternative to the Big Bang is the Classic Fusion.


Audemars Piguet

Hublot is not without precedent. Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak, introduced in 1972, as well as their Royal Oak Offshore, inspired Hublot's designs. The wide bezel with visible screws was directly influenced by the Royal Oak.


TAG Heuer

When it comes to TAG Heuer, it's all about timing. They patented their first stopwatch mechanism in 1882. TAG Heuer has dedicated themselves to the art of racing ever since – it's not a coincidence that their most well-known series is called the Carrera. Even the rectangularMonaco is a legend amongst racing watches. The actor Steve McQueen wore a Monaco in the film Le Mans.


Tissot

Watches from TAG Heuer are in a moderate price range. This applies to Tissot as well. Aside from classic mechanical watches, Tissot offers modern quartz watches as well. The T-Touch Expert Solar is solar powered. It's a multi-function watch with background lighting, a second time zone display, chronograph function, timer, alarm, compass, barometer function, and many other extras. The watch has a titanium case and is waterproof to 100 m (10 bar). The T-Touch Expert Solar has features that only an electric-powered watch can offer. Such an array of functions is impossible for a mechanical watch, especially one that costs less than 1,000 euros.

Other manufacturers also combine Swiss quality with moderate prices, such as Longines, Raymond Weil, or Maurice Lacroix. These companies often use calibers from the world's largest ébauche manufacturer, ETA SA Manufacture Horlogère Suisse, which is also based in Switzerland. The Swiss company Sellita also offers movements that can be found in the watches of many famous manufacturers. Only a few brands produce their own calibers, such as Rolex and Patek Philippe. !Zenith has some of the most important automatic chronograph movements in watch history. The fast-paced El Primero caused a stir when it was released in 1969; it even had a watch named after it.


Top 10 Swiss Luxury Watch Manufacturers According to Production Numbers

Manufacturer Number of watches produced per year
Rolex 800,000
Omega 700,000
Breitling 170,000
IWC 100,000
Chopard 80,000
Jaeger-LeCoultre 75,000
Patek Philippe 60,000
Hublot 40,000
Audemars Piguet 37,000
Zenith 35,000

Post-Quartz Crisis Revival

The Swiss watch industry began in the 18th century. Up until the second half of the 19th century, Switzerland was considered a place where it was easy to produce watches affordably. IWC, with roots in the United States, based their business model on this concept.

After many successful years, the industry suffered in the 1970s and 80s during the Quartz Crisis. Cheap, mass-produced quartz watches produced in Asia endangered traditional Swiss production. Some manufacturers disappeared forever and many workers lost their jobs. Yet surprisingly, Swiss watches later experienced a renaissance which has lasted to this day. The fascination with the technical genius that goes into mechanical watches enthralls watch lovers all over the world. Many manufacturers with longer histories are no longer independent, however. Merging with a large concern, such as the Swatch Group, Richemont, or LVMH, saved many of these manufacturers from going under.

Unexpected competition has popped up since then. The German town of Glashütte was trapped behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany until 1990. Watches have been produced in Glashütte since the mid-19th century, but they were far from being luxury watches when Germany was divided. Now, other manufacturers such as A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original have established themselves in Glashütte, making Glashütte watches true competition for Swiss manufacturers.