It’s no wonder consumers and watch enthusiasts pay as much as $1,000 for Swiss Made chronograph watches. The Swiss watchmaking industry is arguably unparalleled in its dominance with its prowess in quality and functionality making their watches popular high-end products across the planet. Today we, seek to uncover just how Swiss watches rose to the top of the horology industry as we roll back the years to uncover the beginning of what has been a domineering dynasty.
REFERENCE TABLE FOR SWISS BRANDS
Here is a quick reference table of the Swiss Brands. Read further to learn more about the history of Swiss watches and if they’re $1,000 (often times more!) price tag is worth it.
For our ultimate guide on the best chronograph watches, click HERE.
HISTORY OF SWISS MADE WATCHES
The Swiss watchmaking industry traces its roots to the sixteenth century at a time when religious reformer John Calvin oversaw an era where no ordinary citizen was allowed to put on jewellery of any kind but for watches. The jewellery makers at the time, out of financial distress, decided to channel their skills into watchmaking which they did in splendid fashion.
The newly jobless enamellers and goldsmiths worked in conjunction with Huguenots to merge artistry, craft and exquisite design with the technical knowledge afforded by the latter. 1601 is the year of origin for the Swiss watchmaking industry with Geneva heralded as the cradle of a great legacy by the history books.
Eventually, the leadership relaxed the strict policy on jewellery around the 17th century and Geneva thrived as the industry began to really come into its own. With the allowance of jewellery once more, the pioneers could now spruce up watch compositions with the elegance and aesthetic appeal of decorative art that had become synonymous with this famous city.
Over the centuries, the industry grew, blooming in the conducive conditions steadily taking over window space in watch stores across countless countries with numerous varieties. The Swiss made watches are now synonymous with not only alluring beauty but also quality and skill.
WHAT QUALIFIES A WATCH AS SWISS MADE?
The Swiss touch is evident at a glance with the tag “Swiss-made” a trademark label (usually located around the case) that substantiates its authenticity. But before one can brand a watch as such, it is required to be in line with two sections of Swiss law.
These include the Ordinance Law of 23rd December 1971 and the Loi sur la protection des marques that both grant the power to use the trademark upon adhering to certain set rules. Both laws are solely available in the official languages of Switzerland which include German, Italian and French.
Simply put, a watch is classified as Swiss if:
- The final inspection is conducted in Switzerland by the manufacturer
- Swiss movement mechanism is used
- The casing of the movement is also conducted within the said country
WHAT ARE THE BASIC STANDARDS FOR A WATCH TO PASS AS SWISS?
The name Swiss made, Swiss or Swiss movement serves as an indication of Swiss authenticity however that is not all that goes into classifying a watch as Swiss. Here’s a breakdown of the requirements:
- Production costs totaling up to no less than 60% have to be Swiss-based.
- The technical development of the movement and the watch at large have to have been conducted within the borders of Switzerland.
- In value, and not quantity, the Swiss-made components that make up the movement have to account for a minimum of 50 % of the movement’s cost. What’s more, no less than 60% of the movement’s generation has to be conducted within Switzerland.
A point worth taking note of is that the tag “Swiss movement” and “Swiss made” on a watch do not mean the same thing as the former indicates that just the movement is of Swiss origin having passed the required movement standards.
Swiss made, on the other hand, is the real deal meaning that the entire watch passes the criteria for a watch to be termed as exclusively Swiss.
Also, there is a huge grey area with regards to what a “Swiss made” watch means with the Swiss law only defining the minimum criteria that passes for Swiss. However, the reputation and brand of the watch have a huge say in determining the “Swissness” of a watch if you will.
WHAT MAKES THE SWISS MOVEMENT UNIQUE?
Swiss movements are undoubtedly a cut above the rest which is all down to the precise working of the operating mechanism that leads to a very high accuracy that few, if any, other movements in existence can match.
Other attributes which make it stand out include its durability, robustness and reliability. The fact that the Swiss movement is the engine that drives leading global brands such as Rolex, TAG Heuer and Omega is also testament to the effectiveness of Swiss movement.
BEST SWISS WATCH BRANDS UNDER $1,000
Chronograph watches are watches with both timekeeping and stopwatch functions. Whether it’s German made or a high end luxury brand, chronograph watches are very popular due to their stopwatch function and also because of their unique design.
Chronograph watches usually tend to be a little bit larger than regular watches. Stopwatch function is usually found in more sporty and casual watches like automotive or aviation style watches. But some watch companies manufacture watches with stopwatch function that are classic style and sometimes even manufacture them made of gold or platinum.
Famous watch company Edox manufactures various great watches. One of them is Edox Class 1 Chronograph Big Date. Edox Class 1 Chronograph Big Date is probably the best chronograph watch that you can find for a price under one thousand dollars.
You can get Edox Class 1 Chronograph Big Date with a stainless steel bracelet and a quartz movement for about nine hundred dollars. This watch is 48mm wide and is water proof up to three hundred meters. Edox Class 1 Chronograph Big Date comes with a two year manufacturer warranty.
Hamilton is another great watch company that manufactures a chunky chronograph watch called Hamilton Khaki Action Automatic Chronograph. This watch is water proof up to two hundred meters and is 44mm wide.
The price tag for a Hamilton Khaki Action Automatic Chronograph with a stainless steel bracelet and an automatic (self-winding mechanical) movement is about nine hundred dollars. Hamilton Khaki Action Automatic Chronograph comes with a two year manufacturer warranty.
Tissot is a very famous watch company. They manufacture a stylish chronograph watch called Tissot PRS516 Automatic Chronograph. This watch is water proof up to one hundred meters and is 40mm wide.
The price tag for a Tissot PRS516 Automatic Chronograph with a stainless steel bracelet and an automatic (self-winding mechanical) movement is about eight hundred dollars. Tissot PRS516 Automatic Chronograph comes with a two year manufacturer warranty.
Accutron is another great watch company that manufactures a sleek chronograph watch called Accutron Courchevel Chronograph. This watch is water proof up to fifty meters and is 44mm wide.
The price tag for Accutron Courchevel Chronograph with a stainless steel bracelet and a quartz movement is about seven hundred dollars. Accutron Courchevel Chronograph comes with a five year manufacturer warranty.
SWISS ARMY WATCH
Swiss Army is a very famous watch company that produces very affordable watches. They manufacture a chronograph watch called Swiss Army Chrono Classic Chronograph.
This watch is water proof up to one hundred meters and is 45mm wide. You can purchase a Swiss Army Chrono Classic Chronograph with a stainless steel bracelet and a quartz movement for about four hundred dollars.
Swiss Army Chrono Classic Chronograph comes with a two year manufacturer warranty.
Luminox is a great watch company that manufactures a great chronograph watch called Luminox Field Chrono Series. This watch is water proof up to one hundred meters and is 42mm wide.
The price tag for a Luminox Field Chrono Series with a stainless steel bracelet and a quartz movement is about five hundred dollars. Luminox Field Chrono Series comes with a one year manufacturer warranty.
Chase-Durer is another great watch company that manufactures a very chunky chronograph watch called Chase-Durer Crossfire Chronograph. This watch is water proof up to one hundred meters and is 52mm wide.
The price tag for a Chase-Durer Crossfire Chronograph with a stainless steel bracelet. If you’re lucky to find one, it can be had for under thousand dollars. Chase-Durer Crossfire Chronograph comes with a two year manufacturer warranty.
ARE SWISS CHRONOGRAPH WATCHES WORTH THE $1,000 PRICE TAG?
You certainly can’t go wrong with a traditional Swiss watch. Many consider Swiss watches as the creme of the crop when it comes to luxury and brand name recognition. There is nothing minimalist about these watches. They are designed to be heavy. They are usually laden with top metals and gold. They are meant to be opulent. It’s certainly a fine complement to an affluent man or woman’s attire.
All of the watches listed above are Swiss made. Movements are also Swiss made and are either quartz or automatic (self-winding mechanical). Prices on all of those watches depend mostly on the brand. For example, Edox, Tissot and Hamilton cost more because those are very well known watch companies. However it does not mean that the quality of less known and less expensive watches, Chase-Durer or Luminox, is worse. All watches listed above are manufactured by watch companies with great reputation and are of the best quality.
An alternative to the Swiss brands is the MVMT timepiece. It’s classy. It’s affordable. It could be the one for you. Check out our MVMT buying guide to learn more.