The term "Swiss Made" isn’t just another commodity label for a place of origin, but more importantly a seal of approval and a mark of quality recognised worldwide. Today, more than half of the total of all luxury watches are from Switzerland. In terms of their craftsmanship, sometimes it’s just a subtle difference that distinguishes this group of watch manufacturers from one another. This is also usually why most people don’t make a decision for or against a watch brand based solely on a set of objective criteria but more because of “soft” factors such as the public image that’s connected with a Swiss watch manufacturer.
Even more subjective is the following list of the Top 10 Swiss watch brands. Join us as we take you on a brief trip to the epicentre of mechanical watchmaking. This journey won’t just take us to the watch metropolis Geneva: a city that two of the most famous and renowned brands call home. It will also lead us to the less populated valleys of Switzerland, where there are almost as many watchmakers as there are inhabitants.
10. IWC (Schaffhausen)
Our journey begins in Schaffhaussen. Just a few kilometers away from the German border, where the International Watch Company was originally founded in 1868. Since then, it stands for Swiss watches produced according to the highest possible technical benchmarks. In 1993, IWC constructed one of the most complicated wristwatches in history: the Destriero Scafusia. In the 1950s, IWC produced timepieces as one of a few manufacturers with case sizes larger than 4 centimeters and with pocket watch calibres that were highly accurate and reliable.
Today, IWC is in sync with current trends without the necessity of having had to adapt at some point in time. As far as its recent collection is concerned, IWC’s range of timepieces is more substantial than it has ever been before. There are elegant timekeepers in the form of the Portugieser and Portofino, diving watches like the Aquatimer, and of course the pilot watches genre with which IWC is inseparably connected since the 1930s.
Famous Models: Portugieser, Mark, Große Fliegeruhr (Big Pilot), Portofino, Aquatimer, Ingenieur
9. Breitling (Grenchen)
We’re continuing on to the Canton of Solothurn. Just so you get your bearings: we’re still in the northern part of the country, but farther West, about 80 kilometres south of Basel. We’ve reached the small municipality of Grenchen situated at the foot of the Jura mountains: a mountain ridge that is northwest of the Swiss Alps along the Swiss-French border and where the majority of Swiss watch manufacturers call home.
Breitling stands for high grade aviator chronographs with a multitude of additional functionality, which (in the case of the Navitimer) is activated over a rotating bezel. Fans of this Swiss brand know how to appreciate the rich variety of details on the dials and the sporty-archaic base character of its watches. Breitling’s history began when Léon Breitling founded the company in 1884. Regardless of a temporary closing and a takeover of the proprietary rights by the producer Sicura, Breitling today operates mostly as an independent company.
Whether quartz, hand winding, or automatic winding: all of its watches are COSC certified and are officially designated as Chronometers. Breitling represents multifunctional, precision instruments produced according to the highest standards of excellence. Not only can the legendary Navitimer accurately stop the time, but it can also complete several mathematical calculations. The Emergency with its emergency transmitter has also saved well over a dozen human lives.
Famous Models: Chronomat, Navitimer, Superocean, Transocean, Emergency, Breitling for Bentley, Avenger
Breitling Navitimer 1 B03 Chronograph Rattrapante 45 AB031021/BF77/441X/A20BA.16.169 € * More Details
8. Omega (Biel/Bienne)
We’re leaving Grenchen and now on our way to the eastern end of Lake Bienne and the city of Biel. Biel, once entirely German speaking, is today bilingual after francophone watchmakers moved to the city.
It’s the home town of Omega and alongside Rolex, perhaps the most famous luxury watch brand in the world. Omega is not just an official partner of NASA, but also the preferred choice of both James Bond and George Clooney. It’s a Swiss watch brand that stands for the scientification of wristwatches and its specs can be broken down into metric data.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional isn’t just the first wristwatch on the Moon, but also the most tested wristwatch in history altogether. In terms of design, its watches shape the definition of the modern sporty-elegant gentlemen’s timepiece. Hardly any other producer has been as media savvy as Omega or has known how to entice and captivate the eyes of both experts and the public alike in the past years. Today, the name of its collections are not any less illustrious than those from Rolex.
The Speedmaster, Seamaster, the De Ville and its sub-collections Planet Ocean and Aqua Terra all belong to its extensive portfolio.
Famous Models: Seamaster Planet Ocean, Seamaster Aqua Terra, Seamaster 300M "Diver", Constellation, Speedmaster Professional, De Ville
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph 42 mm 3184.108.40.206.01.0053.169 € * More Details
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph 42 mm 3220.127.116.11.01.0063.689 € * More Details
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph 42 mm 318.104.22.168.01.0013.109 € * More Details
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph 42 mm 322.214.171.124.01.0023.629 € * More Details
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Moonphase Chronograph 44,25 mm 304.30.44.52.01.0016.259 € * More Details
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150 M Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 41 mm 126.96.36.199.03.0023.369 € * More Details
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 39,5 mm 188.8.131.52.01.0013.909 € * More Details
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Omega Co-Axial Chronograph 44,25 mm Dark Side of the Moon 3184.108.40.206.01.0076.929 € * More Details
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 44 mm 220.127.116.11.01.0013.839 € * More Details
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150 M Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 41 mm 18.104.22.168.03.0023.379 € * More Details
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 43,5 mm 22.214.171.124.01.0013.629 € * More Details
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 43,5 mm 126.96.36.199.03.0013.739 € * More Details
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer 42 mm 188.8.131.52.03.0013.769 € * More Details
7. TAG Heuer (La Chaux-de-Fonds)
From bilingual Solothurn we’re moving on to the Canton of Neuenburg and have now reached the Romandie: the French speaking western part of Switzerland.
At 992 metres above sea level, the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds is the headquarters of TAG Heuer. While this producer feels right at home in the elegant watch genre, its core competence remains in the discipline of sport chronograph production. Its Monaco, Carrera, and Autavia are genuine watch classics and belong to the most sought after chronograph models among vintage fans.
Its heritage is groomed by several retro references that concentrate on its close connection to racing sports, particularly Formula 1. The most recent examples are the Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 and the Heuer Autavia. TAG Heuer proudly presents itself as an innovator and trailblazer with a keen eye on the future with the launch of a tourbillon model for a price just a bit over 12,000.- GBP and as one of the first luxury watch manufacturers that brought out a Smartwatch on the marke.
Famous Models: Carrera, Monaco, Formula 1, Aquaracer, Monza
6. Zenith (Le Locle)
In Le Locle, in the very middle of the Jura mountain plateau and not too far from the Swiss-French border, there’s been one factory that’s produced watches non-stop since 1865. Originally founded by the 22 year old young entrepreneur George Favre-Jacot, the “Fabrique des Bilodes” was already the source of a lot of buzz.
Swiss watches were produced “industrially” back then: meaning multiple watchmakers delegated the different tasks of production among each other. The way had been paved for Longines and Rolex to become the forerunners of the industrialised luxury watch branch that they are today only after Zenith had been founded.
Nowadays, the brand is famous mostly because of the introduction of the El Primero: the worldwide first automatic chronograph. Today, it’s a calibre with a high frequency of 36,000 oscillations per minute and its accuracy is considered an absolute reference in the watch industry. Rolex depends upon El-Primero calibres for its Daytona collection and there’s a good reason for that: it’s a Swiss brand that stands for know-how and innovative drive. Zenith is one of the few “real” manufactures that creates watch movements entirely on its own and at the same time, has a large watchmaking repertoire at its discretion.
Famous Models: El Primero Chronomaster, El Primero Synopsis, Captain, Pilot
5. Blancpain (Le Brassus)
After a short half an hour drive, we’ve reached the next destination on our list. Where time appears to tick a bit more slowly than everywhere else: almost like a mechanical watch before it comes to a full stop. We’re talking about the Vallée de Joux, known as the valley of watches and the rural counterpart to Germany’s Glashütte.
In about two decades, the small village of La Brassus will celebrate the 300 year anniversary of Blancpain: the oldest still active watch producer in the world. It’s remarkable that even to the present day, not a single quartz watch has ever left through its front doors, but only models with mechanical movements.
This commitment to mechanical timepieces was born out of a passion for luxury watches. Even going