What Makes Swiss
Watches So Special?

An Ultimate Guide to Swiss Horology

Celebrated for their precision and pedigree, Swiss-made watches have become synonymous with luxury and style. They are so much more than an instrument to tell the time. Harnessing generations of watchmaking know-how, their intricately constructed mechanical movements evoke the romance of a bygone era, whilst their pioneering spirit allows you to have the latest in cutting-edge technology on your wrist.

How did this small European nation become the world's standard-bearer for luxury watchmaking? Which pioneering Swiss technological developments have paved the way for modern watch designs? Which luxury Swiss watch brands are the worthiest of investment?

Let's see what makes Swiss watches so special...

Read More +

The History

The History Of The Swiss Watch

The top Swiss watch brands of today are steeped in history and have each played a pivotal role in the evolution of luxury timepieces - from a technical, mechanical and stylistic perspective. Have you ever stopped to think about the centuries of delicate craftsmanship and cutting-edge innovation that have helped to shape your watch?

Edouard Heuer - TAG Heuer Founder

1860 - Edouard Heuer (TAG Heuer founder) opens a workshop

Legend has it that farmers who migrated to the French-speaking Jura region spent the winter months making high-quality components for clock-makers - skills that would be passed down through the generations. This is how it all began, sowing the early seeds of what would turn out to be a Swiss watch revolution.

Some of the greatest Swiss watch companies in the history of Swiss watchmaking such as OMEGA, Breitling and TAG Heuer are centuries old, and their fine watchmaking skills have been handed down through generations.

VIEW THE SWISS WATCH TIMELINE
Swiss Made OMEGA Watch Swiss Made OMEGA Watch

In order to join the ranks of some of the world's best Swiss watch makers such as TAG Heuer, OMEGA, Breitling and Tudor, a watch must conform to strict regulations in order to call itself Swiss-made.

So, what does ‘Swiss-made’ mean? Proudly displaying the stamp of 'Swiss-made' on their dial, your ideal Swiss watch could be powered by an automatic or a quartz movement, it could be suitable for deep-sea diving or resistant to extreme magnetic fields, it could measure time to 1/1,000th of a second or track multiple time-zones. In short, you can find a Swiss-made watch to suit any lifestyle, but it will only be an official Swiss watch if it adheres to the Swiss watchmaking laws.

New "Swissness Laws" were passed in 2017. What does this mean?

  • The technical development of a watch has to take place in Switzerland
  • The watch MUST have a Swiss movement
  • Movement has to be cased up within the country
  • At least 60% of manufacturing costs need to be generated in Switzerland
  • Final inspections have to take place in Switzerland

If these parameters are not met, it's not a Swiss watch.

THE WATCH COMPONENTS

Swiss Watch Parts And Components

We break down the intricate parts of the TUDOR Black Bay to show the meticulous detail that’s behind a Swiss watch.

TUDOR

The Movement

The beating heart of your Swiss watch, the movement literally makes it tick.

TUDOR

The Bezel

Part of the watch that surrounds the dial, the bezel may be fixed or rotating depending on its functions.

TUDOR

The Case

The very essence of your watch, the case will determine the look, feel and functionality of your watch.

TUDOR

The Crown

Used to set the time as well as many other functions, your watch will have either a push-down or screw-down crown.

TUDOR

The Hands

The characteristic angular hands used on the Heritage Black Bay are the same style as those used in watches to the French Royal Navy in the 1970's.

TUDOR

The Bracelet

The type of strap you choose will influence the overall asthetic of your watch. This bracelet takes inspiration from TUDOR's riveted bracelets from the 1950's and 60's.

  • Movement
  • Bezel
  • Case
  • Crown
  • Hands
  • Bracelet

The Movements

What Is A Swiss Movement Watch?

According to Swiss law, a watch movement is only considered Swiss if:

1

The movement has been assembled in Switzerland.

2

The movement has been inspected by the manufacturer in Switzerland.

3

The components of Swiss manufacture account for at least 60% of the total value.

A fine work of craftsmanship, the movement is an intricate mechanism with hundreds of working parts that powers the watch. Discover the different types of movement and the ground-breaking innovations some of the Swiss watch brands have made.

Discover More About Watch Movements

Swiss Pioneers

Swiss Watch Brands In Professional Worlds

Whether it’s pilots, divers or astronauts, some of the world’s most adventurous professions need a highly precise and reliable timepiece to practise their profession.

Aeronautics

Proud of their status as 'official supplier to world aviation', Breitling leads the pack with its Swiss-made pilots watches. The creator of the modern chronograph, an invention which has proved invaluable both in the world of sport and aviation, Breitling's accuracy and durability is legendary.

In 1952, the iconic Breitling Navitimer was launched. It was equipped with the famous 'navigation computer', a slide-rule bezel which can perform complex logarithmic calculations. Giving pilots the ability to calculate fuel consumption, average speeds or climbing speeds, the Breitling Navitimer can compute all necessary flight calculations in the case of plane instruments failing.

Shop Breitling Navitimer Breitling

Did you know: The Breitling Navitimer is the world's oldest mechanical chronograph still in production.

Diving and water resistant watches

Driven by a desire to enhance the accuracy of their movements by protecting them from the effects of dust, water, heat and cold, in 1926 Rolex registered their Oyster design which combined a watertight case with a patented locking crown system.

In 1932 OMEGA followed suit by launching the Marine, a watch which featured a waterproof outer casing and was advertised as the first diver's watch. The Marine was certified to a depth of 135m by the Swiss Laboratory for Horology and, in 1934 it accompanied William Beebe on his historic descent in the 'Bathysphere' to a depth of 3,028 feet.

Both brands have continued to be pioneers in the world of waterproof watches with the Rolex Sea Dweller and OMEGA Planet Ocean.

Oris

Space exploration

In 1962, TAG Heuer became the first Swiss watchmaker to go into space. John Glenn wore a Heuer stopwatch on his wrist as he made the first manned American space flight, orbiting the Earth three times.

However, when it comes to space, one of the most famous chronographs must be the OMEGA Speedmaster, becoming the first watch worn on the moon in July of 1969. Since then, it has been worn on all six lunar landings - earning itself the nickname 'The Moonwatch'.

OMEGA

Did you know: In April 1970, the Apollo 13 astronauts used their OMEGA Speedmasters to time critical engine burns that led to their safe return home.

The Olympics

OMEGA has been the Official Timekeeper at the Olympic Games 27 times since 1932. Heralding the arrival of the electronics era in 1952, the OMEGA Time Recorder allowed official times to be recorded to the nearest 1/100th of a second. OMEGA won the prestigious Croix due Merite Olympique for this innovation.

OMEGA

Motor Sport

In a sport where split seconds count for everything, it feels only fitting that so many precision Swiss-made watch brands are associated with this adrenaline fuelled sport.

TAG Heuer F1

Did you know: In 1953, TUDOR demonstrated the toughness of their TUDOR Oyster Prince by handing it to a motorcycle racer for a 1,000-mile endurance race. It survived and kept perfect time.

Swiss Style

Swiss Design

Swiss watch manufacturers have remained at the forefront of design innovations. Here’s just some of the key design patterns we’ve seen emerge over recent years within the Swiss-made watch industry.

Future-proof materials

"Materials science is definitely the frontier of watchmaking now, with silicon, ceramic and carbon spiking the traditional mode of telling the time mechanically with genuinely useful innovation."

—Alex Doak, Swiss Watch Expert

Trendsetting style

"If we followed trends, we would never have launched the square Monaco in a world where everything was round, and look how much of an icon that is now."

—Rob Diver, Managing Director, TAG Heuer Europe

Vintage-inspired design

"Vintage-inspired designs, particularly those influenced by 1950s and '60s fashion trends, are still very popular."

—Bruce Andrews, Watch Buyer at Beaverbrooks

Gender-neutral style

"There are now more blurred lines between gender-specific watches, with unisex designs being introduced more frequently, which gives wearers greater freedom of choice."

—Bruce Andrews, Watch Buyer at Beaverbrooks

Case size

"The one constant theme over time has been a growth in diameter of the watch, but not only the diameter, the depth of the watch too, and only very recently has this seemed to slow down."

—Rob Diver, Managing Director, TAG Heuer Europe

Collectible Swiss Watches

Swiss Watches As Collectibles

Whether it's Swiss-made or not, it's very hard to predict whether a watch will become a collectible in the future. But if you're looking for the best watch to buy to tell a fascinating story, a special or limited edition timepiece might be the way to go. These are a few Swiss watch brands at the top of our wishlist...

"(Swiss watches are becoming) more and more of an essential antidote to our disposable digital age. As well as making a perfect heirloom, with a heartbeat of its own, a Swiss watch, if maintained properly, can last for eternity".

—Rob Diver, Managing Director, TAG Heuer Europe

Swiss Smartwatches

The Digital Age

With technology always moving forward and the digital age ever prevalent, the Swiss watch industry has had to react to the world of wearable tech whilst remaining true to traditional watchmaking.

Pushing boundaries of technical innovation, the latest TAG Heuer Connected smartwatch offers even greater precision than ever before and even more ways to enhance your connected experience. Combining elegance and craftsmanship with brand new high-tech features, the new Connected watch offers a customised physical and digital experience like nothing you’ve seen before.

Finding the Swiss Watch For You

Which Watch To buy? What To Look For In A Swiss Watch...

There's a Swiss-made watch available to cater for every taste and lifestyle, our experts offered some top tips on how to find the best Swiss watches for you.

1

Choose a watch you love +

2

Decide between style or substance +

3

Research their stories +

4

Choose an authorised retailer +

Inspiration & Advice

Watch Size Guide

Watch Size Guide

Use our Watch Size Guide to help you find the right watch size.

View The Watch Size Guide
Watch Glossary

Watch Glossary

Learn about the different features, functions and parts of a watch in our glossary.

View The Watch Glossary
Watch care Guide

Watch Care Guide

Discover the ways in which to care for your watch at home using our ultimate guide.

View the Watch Care Guide