The Swiss watch and clock industry started in Geneva, Switzerland in the middle of the 16th century. In 1541, the reformer Jean Calvin, by banning the wearing of ornamental objects, in effect forced goldsmiths and other jewelers in Geneva and its environs, to invest all their resources into a new art – watchmaking.
Switzerland is the world’s number one watch supplier by Value.
The country produces around 30 million pieces of watches every year, which is 2.5% of the world’s timepieces.
The answer to this question is quite tricky as not all ‘Swiss-Made’ watches are made in Switzerland. In fact, there are several criteria to get the swiss-made stamp:
- Its movement is Swiss
- The manufacturer carries out the final inspection in Switzerland
- It must meet the 60% minimum Swiss value
Are there ‘Swiss-Made’ watches that made in China?
For many years, a lot of watchmaking brands have partnered with China to produce a percentage of parts that make up their Swiss watches.
Along this line, some watches have been made in China, but still hold the title-Swiss made.
This was made possible by a couple of Swiss Trademark laws which allow for a watch, not necessarily made within Switzerland, to bear the label of Swiss-made.
Are all ‘Swiss-made’ watches made in Switzerland?
No! Being Swiss-made does not necessarily mean that a particular watch was 100% made in Switzerland.
The label simply indicates that the watch meets certain high-quality standards in the form of Swiss trademark law.
The watches that are tagged ‘Swiss-made have some sort of relationship with Switzerland, either by the parts or the movement it possesses, but may be manufactured in other countries.
Sometimes, they are even manufactured in workshops located on other continents.
Where in Switzerland are watches made?
The Watch Valley.
The watch valley is a collective name for the towns that house most of the country’s watchmaking industry. The Watch Valley covers the Swiss Jura arc, a distance of 200 kilometers which runs from Geneva to Basel. The towns located within the watch Valley are Neuchatel, Biel, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Fribourg, Geneva, Basel, and a part of Berghof.
Aside from The Watch Valley, some part of the watchmaking industry is sited at Lucerne, Grenchen, Le Locle, Le Sentier, and L’Orient. Some of these towns have French names because they are located close to the border between Switzerland and France.
Some of the famous watchmakers currently producing in the Watch valley include Breitling, Corum, Gilet, Girard-Perregaux, A Lange & Sohne, Rolex, Ulysse Nardin, Patek Philippe, amongst many others.
Can brands put a Swiss-made stamp on China-made watches?
In 2017, Switzerland revised a legal standard that allows timepieces with 60% of their value in Switzerland, to be stamped as Swiss-made.
This standard implies that a watch can be made in China; but if most of its value originates from Switzerland, then a Swiss-made stamp can be placed on it.
A Swiss-made stamp can also be placed on a watch made in China if its movement is Swiss or has its final inspection in Switzerland.
What makes a watch ‘Swiss-made’?
Throughout the world, Swiss watches have an excellent reputation among other watches. This reputation has been built up over many years of skilled professionalism and dedication to the manufacture of watches and clocks. This reputation is upheld by strict laws that have been put in place by the Swiss government to make sure that the quality of Swiss-made watches is not watered down.
The law makes clear the properties that a watch must possess before it can be stamped as a Swiss-made timepiece. According to such law, a watch can be stamped ‘Swiss-made’ when;
1. Its movement is Swiss
The movement must also meet the following conditions:
- It must have been assembled in Switzerland
- It must have been inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland
- At least 50% of the movement’s component value must be of Swiss manufacture excluding production costs.
2. The manufacturer carries out the final inspection in Switzerland
This condition is flexible enough to accommodate watches that were outsourced to other countries, like Germany, China, and Japan. Because this law implies that as long as the final inspection of the watch was carried out in Switzerland, irrespective of where the watch is produced, it can be stamped Swiss-made.
3. It must meet the 60% minimum Swiss value
This means that at least 60% of production costs are generated in Switzerland.
The Swiss Watch Federation ensures that all the above laws are followed before branding a watch as Swiss-made. The federation uses the above laws coupled with a few other laws for brand protection and to avoid the release of counterfeit watches.
What is the Swiss-made stamp? Is it an obligatory standard?
The Swiss-made stamp is a label or marking used to indicate that a product was made on the territory of Switzerland. It is a guarantee of quality and precision. The stamp also highlights the Swiss provenance of a watchmaker. Yes, it is an obligatory standard to identify a Swiss-made watch.
How much of a Swiss watch is made in Switzerland?
According to the Swiss watch Federation, a minimum of 60% of the manufacturing of the Swiss watch is in Switzerland.
This law makes it fair game for Swiss watchmaking brands to turn to other companies to help produce their watches, except in cases of product offshoring, and still hold the Swiss-made stamp.
How can you tell if a watch is Swiss-made?
A genuine Swiss-made watch will have The Swiss-made label, which can be seen at the six o’clock position on the dial.
The stamp may be in the form of “Swiss-made”, “Swiss”, “Suisse”, “ Product Suisse”, “ Fabriqué en Suisse”, ”qualité Suisse”.
It may be difficult to open up a watch that you have not yet purchased to confirm if its movement is Swiss. A professional may be able to identify a Swiss movement by observing the movement of the hands.
Is there a difference between Swiss-made and made in Switzerland?
All products that are made in Switzerland are Swiss-made, but not all Swiss-made watches are made in Switzerland.
In principle, “Switzerland”, as well as designations such as “Swiss”, and “Swiss quality”, are made in Switzerland. “Swiss made” or others containing the Swiss name can only be used for products manufactured in Switzerland.
There is a difference between Swiss-made and made in Switzerland. Swiss-made does not always mean that the watch was produced in Switzerland. It just implies that some of the parts used may have originated from Switzerland, or may have most of their value from Switzerland.
Why Are Swiss-Made Watches expensive?
Contrary to the usual beliefs, materials used in watchmaking are not the main reason for the High Price tags. Swiss-made watches are quite expensive because they are intricately designed and meet the highest standards of craftsmanship. Another reason is the high market demand and slow production rate. The timepieces are crafted with the finest of components and the most complex of movements. Such detailing cannot be rushed and can take up to 2 years or more.
10 watch brands that are 100% made in Switzerland
Amidst the numerous watches that are made in Switzerland, we are going to be looking at a few of them and where their watchmaking industries are located.
1. Rolex (Geneva)
2. Patek Philippe ( Geneva)
3. Breguet (L’Orient)
4. Jaeger-LeCoultre (Le Sentier)
5. Zenith (Le Locle)
6. TAG Heuer ( La Chaux-de-Fonds)
7. Omega ( Biel)
8. Breitling (Grenchen)
9. IWC ( Schaffhausen)
10. Tissot (Le Locle)
Swiss-made watches are at the top of the food chain when it comes to the watchmaking industry.
For generations, Switzerland has been the world’s leading producer of watches and clocks. Swiss watches stand out clearly as the world-renowned quality and luxury watches. They have a powerful legacy of craftsmanship and a strong reputation.
Though their price is high, Swiss-made watches are worth every single penny invested in them. These watches can last for a lifetime if properly maintained.