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How To Buy A Luxury Swiss Watch | The Watch Hut

Published: 25-05-2017

Swiss town-scape

Swiss watches are more than just timepieces - they're a complex and beautiful investment. And, just like a valuable antique or a new car, several factors come into play when choosing the right one.

What's your budget?

Swiss watches can cost hundreds to thousands of pounds, depending on the make and the features. While there are luxury options at each price point, your budget will dictate the calibre you can choose from.

The three main aspects that factor into price are make, movement, and design. Setting yourself a budget will help narrow down the options, so you can find a high-quality watch and maximise on your investment.

How 'Swiss' do you want to go?

For hundreds of years, Switzerland has been the world's leader of the luxury watch industry. In 2016, it exported 25.4 million watches worth a total £14b, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

Clearly, Swiss watches are respected and valued by people across the globe. However, there are different tiers of how brands can use the 'Swiss' label:

  • 'Swiss made' watch criteria:
    • At least 60% of manufacturing value is generated in Switzerland
    • Watch movement is made and assembled in Switzerland
    • Watch mechanics are built and tested in Switzerland
    • The entire watch is 'cased up' in Switzerland
    • The manufacturer's final inspection takes place in Switzerland
  • 'Swiss movement' watch criteria:
    • At least 60% of manufacturing value is generated in Switzerland
    • The watch's movement is assembled and inspected in Switzerland

The main difference between 'Swiss made' and 'Swiss movement' is how much of the watch is made and assembled in Switzerland. If a manufacturer exports the movement and mechanics without fully assembling the watch in Switzerland, Swiss law dictates it can't say 'Swiss made' on the case or dial.

Some brands may say 'Swiss quartz' to indicate the quartz movement has been made in Switzerland, but it doesn't always mean the watch meets the criteria to be 'Swiss watch'.

What does this mean for you?

Depending on your budget and your standards, it's up to you in terms of how 'Swiss' you want to go. The 'Swiss made' label is generally considered to be more authentic and luxurious, and so these watches are often more expensive. 'Swiss movement' watches still boast a high level of quality but can be a cheaper alternative.

How do you want to move?

The type of movement (aka the inner workings) plays a significant role in the calibre and cost of a luxury Swiss watch. Generally, there are three main options:

  • Mechanical Swiss watches: For the traditionalists

Made in the same complex way watches have been built for hundreds of years. Individual parts work together to make the watch move, and it must be wound manually. Considered to be the most pure and artistic form, mechanical Swiss watches tend to be the most expensive.

  • Automatic Swiss watches: A happy medium

Automatic watches are also constructed with individual working parts, but they don't need to be wound. Powered by the movement of your hand, once they've been activated they 'wind themselves'. However, if not used every day, they may need to be rewound. They tend to cost less than mechanical watches, but are still a luxury option.

  • Swiss Quartz watches: A cheaper alternative

Using a combination of old craftsmanship and innovative technology, Swiss Quartz watches are battery operated. They tend to be more accurate and don't need to be wound, though battery might need to be replaced every few years. Swiss Quartz watches tend to be the cheapest Swiss watch.

So, which one type is right for you?

The type of movement you choose will depend on your budget and personal taste. Swiss quartz watches can be more affordable and still embody the beauty of Swiss craftsmanship. An automatic or mechanical watch is probably a bigger investment, but showcases the purist art of Swiss watchmaking.

Which features catch your eye?

Beyond the construction and the mechanics, Swiss watches can be equipped with a whole host of additional features.

There might be functions you want, such as a chronograph (stopwatch), calendar, or multiple time zone capabilities. Alternatively, you could just be looking for a very simple and luxurious timepiece that's all about looks.

With a wide range of brands offering Swiss made and Swiss movement watches, you can find these levels of quality in a variety of classic and contemporary styles. From simple, sporty models to extravagant options that are paired with precious stones and metals, there's a Swiss watch for every taste.

So, what does this mean for you?

Again, it comes back to personal taste and budget. Tech-heavy models tend to be more expensive, while simple designs can be cheaper - depending on the brand.

After figuring out your budget, the best way to find a luxury Swiss watch is to establish your priorities. Are you determined to go with a Swiss-made model, or would rather find an automatic Swiss movement watch within your price range? Once you've decided on the make, movement, and design you like the look of, it's time to start shopping.

Check out some of the top luxury Swiss watch brands to begin finding the perfect watch for you: Hamilton, Raymond Weil, Maurice Lacroix, Glycine, Davosa, and Victorinox.