Watchmaking is a fine art that has been around for centuries. Throughout the years, there have been plenty of successful watch brands worldwide, from countries like the United States, Germany, and Japan. However, the most highly-esteemed and top-quality watches almost always come from Swiss watch brands.
Watch enthusiasts often regard Switzerland as the “Mecca'' of watches. It is the origin of most high-end luxury watch brands and some of the best mechanical movements on the market. Not to mention that most watchmakers study in Switzerland to acquire certain skills and prestige.
This leads to a few questions. What makes Swiss watches and Swiss watch brands so special? Why do so many enthusiasts and collectors only purchase Swiss-made watches? And what are the best brands out there?
If you want the answers to these questions, keep on reading our review of the most iconic Swiss watch producers!
What Makes Swiss Watches So Special?
There are several factors that make watches from Swiss brands stand out from the competition. Here are the main ones.
Many watch enthusiasts care deeply for the history and heritage of their timepieces. The longer a watch brand has operated, the more prestigious it is. Since the Swiss brands essentially invented and perfected watchmaking, some of the best ones, like Vacheron Constantin, are over 250 years old.
These watch brands also carry the craftsmanship and watchmaking skills of many generations of watchmakers. Some of the first-ever watchmakers lived in Switzerland and had little knowledge and resources to work with. Still, their cleverness and creativity allowed them to make excellent timepieces. Afterward, they passed their knowledge to the next generation of aspiring watchmakers, developing the craft as we know it today.
A watch from a luxury Swiss watch brand is often a representation of the brand’s history as well as the history of watchmaking as a whole, which is a powerful thing to own.
Besides their lengthy history, Swiss watches are also famous for their impeccable quality. Swiss brands have very high standards for every timepiece that leaves their factory. They use the best and most durable materials for their components and utilize top-quality, accurate movements.
The movements often have unique features and complications, the highest quality micro components, and intricate decoration. They also almost always have the COSC certification to ensure their precision and accuracy.
Overall, the quality of high-end luxury Swiss watches is on a level of its own. This allows them to last for many decades as long as you take care of them and service them frequently.
The prestige and craftsmanship of luxury Swiss watches and watch brands give them a lot of sentimental and monetary value. For many people, the acquisition of a luxury Swiss watch is a matter of pride that allows them to showcase their status and taste.
For other watch enthusiasts, their Swiss watch is a partner that accompanies them throughout their life. They never leave the house without it and make some of their best memories with their watch on their wrist.
Luxury Swiss watches also have amazing value retention in the market. Most of them only depreciate slightly over the years, while some even appreciate value, depending on demand. This way, you can be sure that your watch is a good investment that you can enjoy while you wear it, and later enjoy the process of trading it.
Best Swiss Watch Brands
There are many high-quality Swiss companies to choose from, each with its unique style and identity. Some of the best ones are:
We can’t talk about the best Swiss watches for men without mentioning Rolex. Rolex is by far the most famous and recognizable watch brand in the world. In fact, Rolex holds over a quarter of the luxury Swiss watch market share, while the second most popular brand has less than a tenth.
Rolex has the quality and heritage to back its reputation, as it produces some of the best sports luxury watches in the market. It uses materials with high durability for all its components, as well as top-quality in-house movements.
Some of the best Rolex collections include the Submariner, the Daytona, and the GMT Master II. You can look at the Datejust or the Oyster Perpetual collections if you're after a dressier option. Expect to pay a pretty penny for all Rolex models due to their quality and high demand.
Luxury: Patek Philippe
Despite Rolex having a crown as its logo, the true king of luxury Swiss brands is undoubtedly Patek Philippe. It’s one of the oldest watch brands and is responsible for the first ever wristwatch.
Patek Philippe utilizes the best materials and precious metals for its watches and designs intricate watch calibers. With Patek Philippe, you get a timepiece that will last for many generations and will be an excellent family heirloom.
The most well-known Patek Philippe watches come from its sports lineup with the Nautilus and the Aquanaut. If you want these watches, you will need to get on a waiting list and wait for several years. Other popular collections include the Calatrava and some of its Grand Complication timepieces.
Tudor might be the brand for you if you want a taste of the best luxury Swiss watches like Rolex but can’t afford them. Tudor is a sister company to Rolex, and it’s a very affordable Swiss watch brand that produces excellent timepieces.
The brand has recently begun to craft its own unique design philosophy and high-quality in-house calibers. It utilizes the same grade materials as Rolex, so you definitely get a tough and reliable watch.
Most of the best and most affordable Tudor models come from the Black Bay collection. There’s the Black Bay 58, the Black Bay Chrono, and the Black Bay GMT, all for different purposes. Another popular timepiece is the Tudor Pelagos, an excellent and durable dive watch.
Sports: Audemars Piguet
Apart from being a member of the “Holy Trinity” of luxury Swiss watch brands, Audemars Piguet has one more significant achievement under its belt. It was the brand that established the luxury sports watch as we know it today with the Royal Oak in the 1970s.
Before that point, most luxury watches were dressier with precious metals and leather straps. However, with its integrated steel bracelet, the octagon-shaped Royal Oak changed how watch enthusiasts viewed luxury watches.
Needless to say that Audemars Piguet produces some of the best Swiss watches on the luxury market. Audemars Piguet also has the Offshore, an even sportier version of the classic Royal Oak, as well as the Concept collection. The Concept line features timepieces full of technical innovations and impressive specifications.
Movie Icon: Omega
Omega is another popular name in the world of luxury Swiss watches for men and women. The brand emphasizes marketing and recognisability, along with producing excellent timepieces at relatively affordable prices.
Omega is primarily famous for its involvement in the James Bond film franchise and the Apollo space missions. The Omega Seamaster that is prominent on the wrist of agent 007 is a true movie icon, as well as an excellent overall watch.
The Speedmaster Professional is the first watch that went to the Moon making it another very highly sought-after chronograph. Its appeal comes down to its reasonable price, excellent build quality, and the huge history behind it.
IWC has established itself as the signature brand for pilot watches thanks to its tremendous contribution to the aviation industry. When watch fans think of IWC, the first thing that comes to mind is the Pilot and Big Pilot collections of watches. These big watches have very legible dials due to their large Arabic numerals.
However, the brand also produces excellent timepieces in other categories. The Ingenieur is a great sports luxury watch, while the Portuguese and the Portofino offer great dress style options. All IWC watches have excellent durability since they were initially tool watches for pilots. They also come with high-quality in-house calibers.
Newcomer: Richard Mille
We mentioned that history and heritage are significant for watch enthusiasts. Nevertheless, sometimes a brand might earn its reputation as one of the best despite being very young. One such brand is Richard Mille, which is barely over 20 years old.
Richard Mille has become a household name in the Swiss luxury watch market in recent years. It achieved this status thanks to bold futuristic designs that draw inspiration from sports cars and modern materials like titanium and carbon fiber.
Most Richard Mille watches hold their value very well and even appreciate in value due to their low production numbers and high demand. This makes watches like the RM 055 Bubba Watson an excellent investment watch, according to famous watch trader and enthusiast Pejman Ghadimi.
Where It All Began
All in all, Switzerland is where it all began for wristwatches. The first ever wristwatch was Swiss-made, and Swiss luxury watch brands have perfected their craftsmanship and skills throughout the centuries. If you choose a swiss watch for your collection, you’ll get a timepiece with excellent quality and attention to detail.
This attention to detail and high quality that luxury Swiss watch brands provide is what drives us at Operandi Firenze to produce the best watch rolls. We choose the best Italian leather for our watch rolls and put them through rigorous testing to ensure their reliability. Consider getting one of our premium watch rolls to store and protect your Swiss watches.
So, go out there, dive into the world of Swiss watchmaking, and don’t forget to keep an eye on the time!