As the spiritual heartland of fine watchmaking, Switzerland is the best place to buy a quality watch.
However, buying a timepiece that could cost as much as a car or a house is not something you do on the spur of the moment. It’s worth spending a bit of time learning about watches, including where you should buy them.
Some believe it’s better to buy in Switzerland because it’s cheaper. After all, it’s the mother country where many big watch brands are made – Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer, Patek, you name it. But how true is it?
In this article, we’ll learn whether watches are cheaper in Switzerland than in other countries and, if so, why. Keep reading until the end, as we may save you a trip to Switzerland.
So, Are Watches Cheaper in Switzerland?
No, watches aren’t cheaper in Switzerland.
Watchmakers always decide the price of a timepiece. Since most watch brands are high-end and luxurious, these watchmakers have strict and tight control over the price.
The watch’s price is the same in Switzerland as in other countries. Furthermore, most Swiss watches are luxury items, so it makes sense that you won’t see discounts. The watchmakers themselves even prohibit their Swiss retailers from putting a discount on their watches.
Simply put, the price initially set will be the same in most countries, with only a slight difference because of the own currency used. The cost of living in Switzerland is also higher than in other countries. For instance, it’s 49.24% higher than in the United States.
On average, the Swiss make much more than other nations. And higher wages drive up the retail prices of products, including timepieces. On top of that, the Swiss currency is often unfavorable or quite expensive for any country. All these factors combined make it a more challenging time to find a great deal in watches.
Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons why watches in Switzerland will have similar prices in other countries.
Other Reasons Why Watches Aren’t Cheaper in Switzerland Than Other Countries
Supply And Demand
Supply and demand are classic factors in any price-related issue. Prices tend to increase when demand exceeds supply. In this circumstance, suppliers or manufacturers produce more of their products to satisfy the demand and benefit from the margin opportunities.
Of course, you can expect lower prices with lower demand. When it comes to luxury watches, the demand has been consistent in most countries. In addition, luxury watchmakers usually only produce timepieces in demand, so there’s not a case of too much supply that would lead to a lower price.
An exception is when a new model launches, which leads to a higher supply. Manufacturers may decide to make several timepieces before they’re ordered.
Best watch brands in Switzerland
- IWC Schaffhausen
- Patek Philippe & Co.
- Raymond Weil
Related: How Much Do The Most Popular Watches Sell For?
When you buy Swiss watches, it’s not cheaper than in other countries because of customs duty. It’s a form of tax imposed on the importation and exportation of goods.
If you’re a US resident, you can bring back $800 worth of products without paying customs duty. But bringing back $800 above will be taxed at around 3 to 5%. Therefore, when you’re contemplating whether you’ll buy a watch from Switzerland, you’ll consider customs tax.
If the luxury watch you bring back home to your own country is worth $2,500, you’ll still have to pay $51 to $85, although you may save $192 VAT. So, even if the watch is cheaper by about $100 when you purchase it in Switzerland, you still need to consider your travel expenses and customs duty.
Lastly, Value Added Tax (VAT) is an added price to the product. It differs from country to country to minimize economic distortions.
If you buy anything in Switzerland, such as a watch, you must pay 7.7% of the product price. The VAT is lower in other European countries. In the United States, it’s 10% VAT, which is quite reasonable.
Luckily, there’s such a thing as a VAT refund if you’re not from Switzerland. You will present a tax-free form and a receipt from the store where you purchased your luxury watch to claim the refund. As a result, it can be an opportunity to save money. Still, it doesn’t necessarily make the Swiss purchase less expensive than if you purchase it in other countries.
What Do Watches Cost So Much?
To better appreciate why watches seem not to differ in price despite buying them in the place where it was manufactured, let’s find out why watches are expensive in the first place.
The reasons are three-fold. First, luxury watchmakers use fine, precious materials in manufacturing their watches. The second reason is exclusivity. As brands make fewer watches, pricing and demand escalate.
Another reason watches are expensive is that many watch companies are marketing machines. These days, it’s not enough for these brands to say that their watches accurately tell time. After all, there are smartphones that people can rely on.
Nowadays, brands must compete and make their products more appealing than other brands or their next release. And we can’t deny that ad budgets can be astronomical.
Why Is Switzerland Still A Great Place To Buy A Watch?
Even if watches aren’t cheaper in Switzerland than in other countries, it’s still a great place to buy watches because of the quantity and availability there. These features appeal to retailers, too, who may buy not just one but a couple of watches for sale.
Well-known brands like Tag Heuer and Omega have headquarters in the country. Therefore, it’s a beautiful country to buy your timepiece from. The La Chaux-de-Fonds is worth visiting if you go to Switzerland and buy a watch. People call it the watch capital. In this city, you’ll find the factories of Patek Philippe, Cartier, Festina, Breitling, and Louis Vuitton.
The next reason Switzerland may still be a great place to buy a watch is its sentimental value. The story or memory of you or your loved ones traveling in Switzerland adds value to the timepiece.
Sometimes, these watches can also turn priceless because of their stories, especially if they end up as family heirlooms. Watches can likewise make you remember a particular person or a special occasion.
So, in the end, the value lies not in the product but the remembrance.
Are All Swiss Watches Actually Made in Switzerland?
No, a watch with a Swiss-made label doesn’t necessarily mean it was 100% made in Switzerland. It could mean that it meets the high-quality standards observed under the Swiss trademark law.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) says that if a watch’s Swiss, if its movement is Swiss, the manufacturer conducts the final inspection of the product in Switzerland. The movement is cased up in the same country.
People Also Ask: FAQs About Watches in Switzerland
Is Switzerland a good place to buy a watch?
Yes, definitely. Switzerland is an excellent place to buy a watch. Here, watches pass through meticulous conditions and outstanding performance is guaranteed. A plus point is there are many watch stores in Switzerland.
However, where to look depends on your preference. If you’re planning to buy luxury watches, Geneva or Zurich will be your best bet. Meanwhile, cities like St. Gallen, Lausanne, Berne, and Basel have a higher proportion of watch chain retailers who sell stock watches worth less than 1,000 Swiss francs.
How much is a Swiss watch in Switzerland?
On average, a Swiss timepiece is worth 739 CHF (Swiss Franc) and can range in price from 50 CH to thousands. Switzerland has an expensive currency, which may make it unfavorable in other countries.
Which country has the lowest Swiss watch price?
There’s no specific answer, given that prices are about the same in every country. But if you want a good deal when buying a Swiss watch, you may purchase it through a watch broker.
A watch broker has direct access to the manufacturer, so they may likely offer you unpublished prices, although not that big. Some watch collectors or enthusiasts go to Italy to benefit from the tax refund system. Japan also has a favorable exchange rate, so you may buy cheaper watches than other non-European countries.
What are watches popular in Switzerland?
Some of the most popular watches in Switzerland include Breitling, Rolex, Tissot, Glycine, Mondaine, Oris, Victorinox, and more! These timepieces use Swiss movement, or 60% of their manufacturing costs are Swiss.
Final Verdict: Should You Buy A Watch in Switzerland?
Ultimately, whether you want to buy a watch in Switzerland or other countries, the choice comes down to you. Just be aware that timepieces in Switzerland aren’t exactly cheaper than in other countries.
But if you’re planning a holiday to this spectacular country, then, by all means, go ahead and consider buying a shiny and reasonably priced timepiece. In the end, it adds to the overall experience even if the retail price is not lower.
Thank you for the privilege of helping you with your next watch purchase.
If you like this review, please read our other reviews at EvesWatch.com.
My name is Eve Acosta and I’m the person behind this site. Watches are what get me ticking ;).
No, but seriously, I just love watches, I have over 30 myself. It’s an obsession of mine, which is why my husband recommended me to put my hobby into some good use and build this site – so I did.
My passion for timepieces came from the fact that my parents own a small chain of shops selling timepieces. I’ve worked at the shop since I was 11 and fell in love with the merchandise.