The watches that are made in Switzerland are more than just another export item for the country, but a seal of approval for the quality and craftsmanship recognized worldwide. More than half of the luxury watches sold globally is made by watch companies in Switzerland. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, in August 2017, the Swiss watch exports were worth 1.4 billion CHF, having a growth of 4.2%, compared to same month of 2016.
Most of the Swiss watches are exported to Hong Kong, USA, China, UK, Germany and Japan. The growth rate of the watch exports is due mainly to the watches priced at over 3000 cHF, while products that cost less than 200 CHF continued to decline.
Some of the most important watch companies in Switzerland are the following:
Patek Phillipe SA
Patek Phillipe watches often achieve record sums at some of the largest auction houses in the world. For example, one of the watches became the most expensive auctioned watch of all time in 2014, with a price of 16 million GBP. The company was founded in 1839 as a family –owned business in Geneva, by Antoine Norbet de Patek and Francois Czapek. It has its own R&D department and creates and engineers all the movements and external components in its own workshops. Patek Phillipe is owned by the stern family since in 1932, therefore it has remained a strong “family business” to this day.
Another Geneva-based watch company in Switzerland is Rolex. Asides from the quality watches, the company has grown over the decades due to a clever PR and marketing strategy. The company was founded in 1905 and one of its most important achievements is the launch of the very first waterproof wristwatch, named the Oyster. Rolex watches are often connected with various sports such as equestrian disciplines, golf or car races.
Vallee de Joux is a small village not far from the south bank of the Lac De Joux, but it is also the place where Breguet’s rich history started. Even from the second half of the 18th century, Breguet watches were famous and personalities such as Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte belonged to the selective clientele. The company created the oldest wristwatch in Switzerland, but also what it is believed to be the oldest wristwatch in the world, a special item for Napoleon’s sister, Caroline Murat. The watches are known for their Baroque designs and detailed inlay patterns. The company was founded in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet and is now a part of the Swatch Group since 1976.
The company based in Le Sentier was founded by Antoine LeCoultre in 1833. Among the hundreds of inventions and movements to its name, one of the most important achievements is the world’s smallest calibre, one of the most complicated wristwatches ever created. Starting with 2000, the company is part of the Swiss luxury group Richemont.
The small village of Villeret will celebrate in almost two decades the 300th anniversary of Blancpain, the world’s oldest watch producer that is still active. The company has never produced quartz watches and has stated that they will never produce watches with digital displays. Blancpain is famous for their attention to details, producing lees than 30 watches per day, because each watch is made by a single watchmaker.
Zenith is one of the watch companies in Switzerland that was always focused on innovation. The company introduced the first automatic chronograph in the world on the market. It was founded in 1865 by Georges Favre-Jacot. Since 2000, Zenith is part of the LVMH luxury group.
TAG Heuer SA
It was founded in 1860, in Saint-Imier, by Edouard Heuer. In 1999, the luxury group LVMH bought nearly 100% of the Swiss company. Today, the factory is located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and TAG Heuer also owns a workshop in Cornol.
Omega is an official partner of NASA, but its watches can also be seen often in James Bond movies. The Omega Speedmaster Professional was the first wristwatch that made it all the way to the moon. The company headquartered in Biel/Bienne was founded in 1848 and is now part of the Swatch Group.
Breitling watches are known for their precisions, being used by professionals from the aviation industry for decades. The company was founded in 1884 by Leon Breitling. It has its headquarters in Grenchen. All the components are made in Switzerland.
The company was founded in 1868, in Schaffhausen, by Florentine Ariosto Jones. It has the only major Swiss watch factory that is located in the eastern part of the country. Today, IWC is part of the Richemont group.
Notably, the main players on the Swiss watch industry market are three large groups, Swatch, Richemont and LVMH. However, watch making remains one of the most lucrative industry sectors and it offers various business opportunities for entrepreneurs interested in Switzerland incorporation.