How to Buy a Swiss Watch

A Swiss watch has come to be known as an often expensive, precision instrument. In fact, Switzerland produces half of the world's watches, in terms of value. In the 1960s, Swiss watch engineers tested the first quartz and battery operated watch, which is now widely used today throughout the watch industry. While Switzerland exports about 95 percent of the watches it produces to jewelers and customers worldwide, there is quite a range of choice available from the plastic Swatch to a luxury item costing thousands of dollars. Read more to find out how to buy a Swiss watch.


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    Decide if you would like the watch to be fully assembled in Switzerland. Because many types of watches originated in Switzerland, many watch designers from other countries use Swiss watch design methods. Japan has notably used and improved on these methods, and its models rank highly among Swiss models.
    • You can choose a watch that is noted to have "Swiss Movement." This protected designation means that at least 50 percent of the moving parts of the piece were constructed in a Swiss factory using Swiss parts. It does not guarantee that it was fully made in Switzerland. The movement may also read "Swiss automatic" or "Swiss quartz."
    • You can choose a watch that is noted as "Swiss Made." This means the watch was fully made from Swiss parts and assembled in a Swiss factory. These designations should be on the watch case or dial.
    • If 1 of these terms is not used, then it is most likely not a Swiss watch you are buying. Because the terms are protected, they are, with rare exceptions, used when they are true.
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    Decide if you want a mechanical, automatic or quartz movement in your watch. These terms apply to watches made anywhere, but a mechanical or automatic movement may be harder to find. Quartz movement watches, because they oscillate at 32,000 vibrations per second, are very accurate.
    • A mechanical watch must be wound periodically. These watches are often expensive and beautifully constructed, even passed down from generation to generation. They are not nearly as accurate as quartz watches, but are beautiful works of art. They can fall behind in time by seconds or minutes each week.
    • An automatic watch harnesses the movement of a rotor while wearing the watch to wind the watch. It is recommended that you also buy a watch winder if you do not plan to wear it every day. It operates on the same principle as a mechanical watch.the only difference is that it is wound automatically. It also requires much less maintenance than a mechanical watch.
    • The quartz movement watch is seen as the most accurate. A battery works in tandem with the vibrating crystal to keep it accurate. The battery usually needs to be replaced every 1 to 2 years; however, it requires less maintenance than a mechanical watch.
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    Decide upon the price you are willing to pay. A Swiss watch does not need to be extremely expensive if it is plated or plastic, but materials like gold, platinum and diamonds will substantially increase the price. Since the invention of the quartz movement, a Swiss watch usually costs between $50 and thousands of dollars (between 70 and thousands of Swiss Francs).
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    Buy directly from the Swatch store, if you want to see the full breadth of their collection and choose your color. If you know you want a Swatch, they are available at many retailers, in their 600 stores across the world and from their 8 country-specific online stores, at
    • Swatch are available in digital or traditional versions as well as many colors. The company regularly comes out with new collections. You may want to join their mailing list if you want to be updated when their new collections arrive in stores or online.
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    Go to a department store like Macy's, Nordstrom's, Selfridge's or Harrods to find a large selection of quartz and automatic watches. You can get a customer service representative to show you which models are Swiss and choose from a wide selection.
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    Go to a high-end jeweler if you want a luxury mechanical or automatic watch. They will be able to recommend the best, most accurate models. They may also be able to suggest vintage watches that have been repaired and are collector's items.
    • You may also want to ask a personal shopper to be on the lookout, if you want to buy a luxury Swiss watch. Specify that you want a "Swiss Made" watch and the shopper may be able to tell you the best options from a number of dealers.
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    Go online and search for "Swiss made watches" to find a list of retailers that have watches. Be on the lookout for scams or counterfeit watches. If a luxury Swiss watch is extremely low priced, it is most likely too good to be true.
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    Look out for online auctions, or estate auctions, in order to find collectible, antique Swiss watches. Many people consider classic mechanical movements to be works of art. Be on the lookout on eBay or other online auction sites to see if a Swiss watch is up for auction.


  • Beware of counterfeit Swiss watches. You may want to check your return policy on a new Swiss watch, ask a jeweler or watch-repairer to look at it, and take it back if you find it is counterfeit.

Things You'll Need

  • Money
  • Department store
  • Jewelry store
  • Auction sites
  • Personal shopper (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Jewelry and Watches