Why Swiss Watches Are So Expensive?

Swiss watches are the very definition of luxury, and that’s why many watch aficionados desire them. Swiss watches, such as Rolex, IWC, and Patek Philippe, are globally renowned for boasting high-quality designs and functionality. But most importantly, it is their intricately designed components that make them one of the most expensive timepieces around.

Apart from that, Swiss watches are also known for having a diverse history of innovation that exists to this day. They also boast the most complex movements ever to be seen in the history of horology. Over many decades, these aspects have been refined, improved, and are highly valued by luxury watch enthusiasts.

Let’s take a closer look at what exactly Swiss watches are and why they are expensive.

closer view of Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Calendar watch

What is Swiss Watch?

As we said earlier, Swiss watches are the very definition of luxury. The term Swiss was adopted in the late 19th century. This means that a particular timepiece strictly met the watchmaking standards of Switzerland. In fact, “Swiss” has been used so often that it may be a generic synonym instead of something that’s geologically restricted. For a watch to be considered Swiss, it has to meet a set of particular guidelines.

The laws that determine whether a watch can be “Swiss Made” or not these days were established in 1971. And despite the addendums over the years, most of those laws haven’t been changed for almost five decades. Though a Swiss-made watch has several definitions to it, they need to have three main aspects to them, including:

  • The watch’s movements have to be at least 50% Swiss.
  • The watch’s movement has to be cased in Switzerland.
  • The manufacturer of these watches should have their final inspection in Switzerland

At least, these used to be the requirements before 2017. Ever since then, five main requirements now define a Swiss watch:

  • Movement should be Swiss
  • The watches made in Switzerland
  • The movement of the watch is cased up in Switzerland
  • At least 60% of a timepiece’s manufacturing costs are based in Switzerland
  • The final inspection should be done in Switzerland
front view of Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch watch

The laws that govern how Swiss a watch can be are challenging to enforce. Plus, there are several loopholes that some brands utilize to their advantage. There are watch movements that are “Swissified” – made outside of Switzerland but shipped to the country. The watches are then disassembled and reassembled before being called “Swiss Made”. Sure, they might abide by Swiss build watches’ laws, but they don’t have the spirit within them.

In other words, the importance of a watch being Swiss is hotly debated. Some believe authentic Swiss watches are the only ‘real watches’ and should be made in a particular way. Others believe that Swiss is only a label with some requirements. Whatever the case may be, Swiss watches are known mainly for their fine craftsmanship and accurate timing.

History of Swiss Watches

Making Swiss watches first got its run as clockmakers who wanted to make smaller mechanical movements during the 17th century. But this was after the first watch in history was made by a German clockmaker in the 16th century. After a couple of centuries, the only dominant watchmaking nations in Europe are France, England, and Germany. Switzerland never factored into the industry until the 19th century.

By the 18th century, craftsmanship and innovation came and started to blossom. Some of the renowned watchmaking brands that honor the Swiss watchmaking culture include Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin. These brands always wanted to show how refined their artisan abilities were. This is due to meticulous craftsmanship, constant mechanic refinement, and introducing innovations like self-winding movements and date complications.

front view of Audemars Piguet blue dial watch

But what actually sets apart Switzerland from its European rivals was not the quality of the watches at first. Back then, it was all about quantity, or who produced the most watches. At that time, most Swiss watchmakers were making cheap quality copycats of watches from other states. Later on, only a handful of watchmakers started to stand out in terms of quality.

Why Are Swiss Watches Expensive?

As we said earlier, it’s the components and craftsmanship that make up the high price rates of Swiss watches. Some of these components include:

  1. New Movements – Swiss watchmakers take great pride in designing Innovative new watch movements, such as the new Rolex 3255 movement which you can find in some Rolex Day-Date watches. These movements take years to craft and then perfect after being assembled by hand and made to last for centuries.
  2. Production Time – For a quality Swiss watch, it would take months how to make a proper model. Because of its slow production time and high market demand, luxury watch price rates tend to increase. For example, a Patek Philippe Grand Complications watch may take more than six years to produce.
  3.  Top-Quality Components – Only the richest of materials are used for making Swiss watches. It is from these components that the watch is both accurate and durable. Case in point: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches in gold and diamond are some of the most luxurious Swiss watches we can’t help but covet.
  4. Luxury Image – Just by their look, Swiss watches invoke thoughts and feelings of prestige and luxury. Despite their high premium price, luxury watch enthusiasts are prepared to pay that price for these Swiss watches. Because of this, the high price serves as an indication of a luxury watch’s worth. Various studies reveal that consumers are willing to pay 20% more for these watches. They do this for the sake of owning something very exclusive, such as a Vacheron Constantin Patrimony or an IWC Portofino.

    Are Swiss Made Watches Worth It?

    With all that being said, are Swiss watches really that worth it? For the premium price that they’re worth, definitely. With the most top-quality components, a watch with accurate time-telling abilities that can last centuries is absolutely worth it. Obviously, these watches aren’t for everyone; they’re tailored only for those who can afford it, and those who desire perfection.

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