Is it just good marketing or does the Swiss watch industry really lead the market for quality watches?

Watches that are made in Switzerland have a high reputation. Why is this and is this just perception or reality?

The cradle of precision clockwork lies in Switzerland. It was here that the etablissement system was developed and watch components were made „für diä ganzi Wält“ (en: for the whole world).

Even today there is a certain monopoly in the field; „ETA“ is the world‘s largest maker of components and many companies that made significant inventions are located in Switzerland. Although many other industrial nations have caught up in the production of watches, Switzerland still has the reputation of making the „dieä beschtä Uhrä“ (en: the best watches) in the world

So, is it good marketing or are Swiss watches really the best? It is „ä Mischig“ (en: a mixture) of both.

Special certificate of quality and origin – the Geneva Seal

Quality lies in the details – a mechanical clockwork
Quality lies in the details – a mechanical clockwork

The Geneva Seal, also known as the Geneva Hallmark, is the quality seal for wrist watch movements made in the canton of Geneva. For a mechanical watch to be awarded this seal, strict criteria must be adhered to. These criteria are, for instance, the highest quality of all components; the grinding and polishing of all screws, steel edges and other precisely defined surfaces; certain characteristics pertaining to the mechanical construction; and an accuracy of under one minute a day over seven days.

It is partly due to this accolade that the value of a Swiss clockwork as well as its reputation for high quality is „ufbessert“ (en: improved).

Handcrafted with the highest quality standards

A watch as the ultimate status symbol
A watch as the ultimate status symbol

As mentioned before, Swiss watchmaking places special emphasis on the highest quality and precision. This means that a huge amount of „Handarbet“ (en: handwork) is involved during production, assembly and alignment of a watch. This is what distinguishes the watches from the masses and, together with the fact that watches manufactured in Switzerland are subject to high quality standards, justifies the high prices. A long history of watchmaking and the experience gained from it are what make buyers trust in the quality of Swiss watches.

An expensive Rolex watch is the ultimate status symbol; of course this helps the marketing of Swiss watches.

Famous Swiss watch brands

„Swiss made“ means more than just a designation for where the watches are made; a „made in Switzerland” labelling is seen as a guarantee of high quality and precision. „D Unterschied“ (en: the differences) amongst Swiss manufacturers in quality, precision and workmanship are slight and therefore not the decision making criteria for buyers. Visual or brand appeal have more influence on whether a watch is bought or not.

These are four of the best know brands in the world who have only a small selection of watches.

International Watch Company, IWC

IWC was founded in the small border town of Schaffhausen in 1868 and has been producing watches of the highest quality ever since. In 1993, IWC manufactured one of the most complicated watches ever made: the Destriero Scafusia. A speciality of the manufacturer is that it has been making watches with watch cases larger than 4 cm since the 1950s. This is why IWC is one of the leading brands for pocket watches, which are still trendy „hüt“ (en: today).

Breguet, founded by Abraham Louis Breguet

In the small village of L´Orient close to the Lac de Joux, the watchmaker Abraham Louis Breguet founded his company of the same name. Breguet was a trained watchmaker as well as a mechanic and his diverse portfolio reflects his many talents. „Näbä dr Härstellig“ (en: aside from the manufacture) of watches, his work comprises metal thermometers and swinging pendulums. Breguet was considered to be a master and genius in his field. The brand Breguet is, still today, one of the most known and best watch brands.

Rolex – a world renowned brand
Rolex – a world renowned brand

Rolex, the most famous and exclusive watch brand in the world

Rolex, the most famous watch brand hardly needs „ä Vorstellig“ (en: an introduction). The manufacturer, headquartered in the heartland of watchmaking, Geneva, has a proven track record of strong marketing and PR strategy. Rolex is the brand leader in luxury watches; owning a Rolex watch is still the ultimate status symbol.

Patek Philippe, top-of-the-range luxury watches

When talking about high end watches, the Patek Philippe brand springs to mind immediately. The company makes watches that easily cost millions and are worn by the rich and beautiful. Patek Philippe was founded in 1839 by a Polish aristocrat, Antoine Norbert Count of Patek; today, „sini Markä“ (en: his brand) is the crème de la crème of watches.

Market leaders

Engineering, precision, exclusivity and handwork are what make the difference between mundane and high quality watches. Although there is an increasing amount of Asian and American watches on the market, Swiss watches are still at the top of the luxury watch market. This is largely due to the experience and worldwide good reputation of Swiss watch manufacturers.

At Learn-Swiss-German-online, we share the same values as our watchmakers; quality and customer satisfaction are of the utmost importance to us. Hundreds of copies of our book „Swiss German in 30 Days“ have been sold and our video course has been lauded by customers who are serious about learning Swiss German.

Vocabulary List

Swissgerman English
1 für diä ganzi Wält for the whole world
2 diä beschtä Uhrä the best watches
3 ä Mischig a mixture
4 ufbessert improved
5 Handarbet handwork
6 d Unterschied the differences
7 hüt today
8 Näbä dr Härstellig aside from the manufacture
9 ä Vorstellig an introduction
10 sini Markä his brand


Switzerland‘s watch industry
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