Prestigious Swiss Watch Brands for Men
Just like you, your brand is based on what you put out: hard work, dedication, strive for success… These are some traits that makes you a recognizable individual. Each of us have our own offerings that makes us better than some and watches are no different. Whether that’s an emphasis on sports culture, traditionalism, or a strive for technological supremacy, a watch brand lasts so long because of their hard stance on their belief.
Switzerland is a country that prides itself on precision and quality, and their watches reflect that. It’s a showpiece of what human ingenuity can do and there’s a reason why some brands are at the upper echelon in the horology world.
Take a tour with the GW crew and see what makes the following Swiss brands so prestigious.
Introduction to Swiss Watches
Swiss Watch Buying Guide
Top Swiss Watch Brands
– Patek Philippe
– Audemars Piguet
– Ulysse Nardin
Full Swiss Watch Brand List
Introduction to Swiss Watches
Watches are more than just time keepers, they are a reflection of personal style and character. Like supercars or high end sports cars the manufacturers of watches all hold themselves to a high standard. They want their buyers to fall for their watches, to hand them down, to wear them with pride.
The best Swiss watch brands are all prestigious, high quality and steeped in history. In our list of the top 20 Swiss watch brands we looked at not only recent models or styles, but the history and aura around these brands. You can’t create a list like this by just working your way down a feature list and comparing brands.
The Swiss watch industry is the largest in the world and Switzerland has been known as the center of the watch industry for more than 400 years. “Swiss made”means quality and craftsmanship, it means technical and aesthetic qualities that can only be found in Swiss-made watches.
According to Wikipedia, a Swiss watch is defined as:
In sum, a watch is considered Swiss whose movement is encased in Switzerland and whose final control by the Manufacture d’horlogerie takes place in Switzerland.
Basically, to be labeled a Swiss watch it is must be made exclusively by manufacturers in Switzerland, must have a Swiss movement, and the watch has final inspection in Switzerland. A Swiss watch can be battery, quartz or mechanical (hand-wound), analog, digital or analog/digital.
Swiss watches are desired and admired around the globe. Their, state of art timekeeping mechanism, exceptional craftsmanship and advanced engineering coupled with old-world charm are all reasons why people covet Swiss watches. Here’s our take on the best Swiss watch brands, the most prestigious Swiss watch brands on a very esteemed list.
Swiss Watch Buying Guide
Understand Your Budget
We say this about buying any watch, but when it comes to Swiss watches there is an absolute massive difference between lower end timepieces and the high end watches. Watches are often compared to cars because of the mechanics involved, but the comparison could just as well apply to your spend. A good quality, entry level Swiss watch can cost anything from $500 to literally millions of dollars, so vast is the range of prices. If you’re shopping at the lower end check out our Affordable Swiss-Made Watch Brands.
Swiss Watches Need Care
Anytime you are buying a luxury watch (especially mechanical watches) it needs maintenance and care. To keep a watch in top shape you should service it every two to four years. The main issue is that parts start to wear over time, largely due to ageing lubricants that degrade.
Mechanical Vs Quartz Movements
There are two types of watch movements – mechanical and quartz. In a mechanical movement, the movement is (you guessed it) mechanical whereas in quartz the movement is powered by a battery.
Mechanical movements are made up of hundreds of parts and assembled by hand by master watchmakers and advanced engineering that is almost impossible to imagine. Mechanical watches are more collectable and need more maintenance. They are also more expensive.
True watch lovers feel mechanical movements, which are either manually wound or automatic, are more romantic and have longer value. Think of it as the manual gearbox in old classic cars, they are romantic and emotional.
Big or Small? Size Matters
Watches come in tons of size, from small cocktail watches to traditional men’s watches that top out at 36mm. Recently, sizes have gone up to 50mm in diameter. For a watch buyer, it is important to know whether you’re looking for a 42mm watch or a 30mm watch and that’s all personal taste.
Complications Get Complicated
Mechanical watches get really interesting when you start adding in complications. Complications like chronographs, second time zones, annual calendars that show the day, date and month of the year and so on are very useful and you may want to find a watch that includes them. Things get out of hand at the higher end, with cool horological complications like minute repeaters that chime the time on demand, tourbillons that counter the effects of gravity on a movement, perpetual calendars that never need adjusting, not even in a leap year and so on. Complications get complicated.
Top Swiss Watch Brands
The top Swiss watch brands we’ve included in our list include: IWC, Omega, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Breitling, Audemars Piguet, Hublot and Zenith. Further in the article we list all the Swiss watchmakers so you can reference the full list.
The International Watch Company popularly known as IWC is a high-end brand of Swiss watches located in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
The IWC was founded in 1868 with the objective of combining Swiss craftsmanship with the modern US engineering technology.
Since then, the IWC has continually engineered powerful and luxurious watches.
Through its passion for innovation and technical ingenuity, the IWC has developed a prestigious reputation. The Destriero Scafusia was built by IWC in 1993 and even to this day is considered one of the most complicated wristwatches ever made.
The craftsmanship and design of IWC watches is impeccable. This Swiss watch manufacturer has been designing masterpieces which combine precision engineering with exceptional design. There is no doubt that the IWC watch are quintessential luxury timepieces.
IWC watches are identifiable by their their classic shape and advanced materials. Even in recent years they’ve managed to stay current without losing their “look and style”.
We love the Aquatimer diving watch, just about every one of their pilot watches and the elegant Portugieser and Portofino.
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Quick Links: Shop for Omega Watches, Official Website, Read our Reviews
Popular: Seamaster Planet Ocean, Seamaster Aqua Terra, Seamaster 300M “Diver”, Constellation, Speedmaster Professional, De Ville
Widely known for designing state of the art mechanical watches since 1848, Omega is an admired brand of Swiss watches.
Initially the watches were sold under the brand name Omega. In 1894, brandt’s two sons developed a new technology that allowed watch components to be interchangeable.
The success of Omega resulted to its official founding in 1903. The rest as they say is history.
In 1917, Britain’s Royal Flying Corps chose the brand to be its official timekeeper. The American army did the same in 1918. In 1969, Omega was chosen by NASA, making it the first watch brand to reach the moon.
The accolades don’t stop there either with Omega watches being the official timekeeper of the Olympics since 1932. The brand has also been the choice for James Bond films since 1995. In short, Omega is one of the most successful watch brands owned by the Swatch group.
The timekeeping mechanism is the most accurate in the world. This brand of watch has set the precision records and continually redefining the standard of luxury Swiss watches. With its polished and refined appearance, Omega watches are classic and modern at the same time.
The Omega watch is a legendary timepiece. Advanced engineered and superb quality and high-end materials along with classic designs makes this one of our favorite Swiss watch brands.
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I bet there is zero surprise to see Rolex on this list of the best Swiss watch brands. The Rolex Swiss watch is one of the most respected and renowned watches in the global market, with almost universal brand recognition even amongst non-watch fans.
Since 1905, the Rolex Company has been designing timeless and elegant luxury watches. Rolex has set the record in terms of cutting edge innovation and technological revolution in the watch industry. However, this Swiss watch brand is as much about smart marketing as it is about watch technology.
Rolex watches are less about complicated movement and more about high quality, maintenance friendly watches that can be worn every day. Reliability in high end watches isn’t true for every watch maker and this is where Rolex excels.
This brand of watch was able to manufacture the first waterproof wristwatch, the first wristwatch with an automatically changing date on the dial, the first wristwatch to show two time zones at once and the first wristwatch with an automatically changing day and date on the dial.
Due to its noteworthy significance in the watch history, Rolex is one of the most admirable and recognized watch in the world.
Overall, the Rolex watch is a symbol of timeless luxury and eternal magnificence.
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Founded in 1851, the Patek Philippe & Co. (PP) is a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer located in Geneva and the Vallée de Joux. Patek Philippe designs and manufactures classy timepieces as well as some of the most intricate mechanical watches.
This is the most prestigious Swiss watch brand in many experts opinions. If you hear two watch guys talking about buying a Patek Philippe timepiece, you know you are listening to really rich folks.
achieve record sums at the largest auction houses, where one of its watches can trade ownership for a two figure million sum.
Patek Philippe watches often break auction house records, going to tens of millions of dollars. Like a lot of very high end luxury brands, Patek Philippe uses long wait times on their most coveted models as a way to create mystique and cultivate their premium brand.
It’s more than a marketing ploy because we know that the annual Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon production number can be counted on one hand (yes, as in less than five units). Better hope you know somebody super-important at the company if you want one.
This brand pioneered and invented the perpetual calendar, split-seconds hand, chronograph, and minute repeater in watches.
This brand is notable for manufacturing its own parts and machineries. Patek Philippe is also known for producing the most expensive timepiece in the world. This brand of watch is patronized by the royalty and other powerful figures worldwide.
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Breitling has been making great watches since 1884. It is known for producing high-end watches known for their precision and accuracy especially in the aviation industry.
Known for its aviator chronographs with a multitude of additional functionality they are advanced watches with lots of cool features for the technophiles amongst us.
The Breitling watches are typically categorized for diving (SuperOcean), aviation (Navitimer), and luxury (Breitling for Bentley).
Breitling has played a critical role in the innovation of the wrist chronograph watches. It is also the world’s only major watch brand to equip all its models with chronometer certified movements and produce its own mechanical chronograph movement.
With its durable, reliable and high-performing timepieces, Breitling is definitely one of the most prestigious brands in the watch industry.
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Audemars Piguet is an iconic luxury Swiss watchmaker that is admired around the globe. With some of the most unique-looking watches on the market they have built themselves a niche spot in the upper luxury end of the market.
The roots of Audemars Piguet can be traced back to 1874. From humble beginnings when founded by Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet, Audemars Piguet now delivers over 30,000 watches per annum.
This Swiss watch brand has attained tremendous worldwide success and became one of the most legendary watches makers ever, largely by being original and focusing on the top end with unique looking and luxurious watches that can’t be found anywhere else.
It has introduced several special and limited edition watches for celebrities and athletes. The quality and workmanship of the Audemars Piguet watch is exceptional.
With its revolutionary designs and state of the art mechanism, the Audemars Piguet watch is one of the most remarkable Swiss watches in the global market.
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Luxury and Indulgence are the foremost features of the Hublot watch. Founded in 1980, Hublot is a globally recognized brand for luxurious and classy timepieces.
In April 2008 it was announced that luxury goods group LVMH had acquired Hublot from founder Carlo Crocco for an undisclosed price.
At present, it is manufacturing the most expensive watch in the world worth $5 million.
This brand is well known for engineering the first natural rubber strap in the history of watch manufacturing. It took 3 years of research to create the strap. Despite failing to attract a single potential customer on the first day of its debut at the 1980 Basel Watch Fair, the watch quickly proved to be a commercial success with sales in excess of $2m in its first year.
Since then, Hublot has attained a commercial success as proven by its increased profitability.
With its superb quality and high-end materials, this watch will surely last for a lifetime. The Hublot watch is highly recommended due to its technological innovations and distinctive designs.
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Zenith is a high-end luxury Swiss watch brand founded in 1865 by 22 year old George Favre-Jacot. Fun fact of the day that the same factory has continued to make watches since 1865.
It has attained an esteemed reputation for manufacturing high quality and precise watches. This award winning brand of luxury watches still produce its own timekeeping mechanisms and movements and is considered by many watch enthusiasts a “real” manufacture because of that fact.
One of their most popular models is the El Primero caliber which was introduced in 1969. This timepiece was one of the first watches powered by an automatic chronograph movement. The El Primero put the Swiss watch brand on the map.
It is one of the most commendable and renowned brands in the world due to its remarkable significance in the watch history. Today, it’s a calibre with a high frequency of 36,000 oscillations per minute and its accuracy is considered an absolute reference in the watch industry. Rolex depends upon El-Primero calibres for its Daytona collection
Zenith has played a crucial role in the history of watchmaking by accompanying historical figures in their grand adventures.
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Breguet is a Swiss watch manufacturer founded by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1775. As one of the oldest watchmaking companies in the world, it has pioneered several technologies in the making of watches.
From patenting the tourbillon in 1795, to being the first to develop the first wristwatch in 1810, the company has stuck to its commitment of continually innovating and improving its products.
Today, Breguet watches are the results of meticulously performed processes by craftsmen who consider watchmaking as a sacred duty.
It is said that no two watches made by A.L. Breguet were ever alike. This legacy still lives on, evident in the individuality exhibited by every Breguet timepiece.
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In keeping with the inventive mind of its founder, Antoine LeCoultre, this Swiss watch manufacturer continues to foster a culture of innovation and creativity up to this day.
This is evidenced by the more than 1,200 calibres that have been developed, along with 413 registered patents.
The Jaeger-LeCoultre workshop in Vallee de Joux, Switzerland houses over 180 types of processes involved in watchmaking, manned by artisans, technicians and engineers with only one goal in mind: to create timepieces of excellence and quality.
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If awards are to be the measure of a watchmaker’s ability, then the 4,300 that Ulysse Nardin has under its name would rank it as among the world’s best.
The brand is recognized for creating extremely precise timepieces, borne from more than a century of making marine chronometers, the most accurate mechanical clock.
Today, the House of Ulysse Nardin continues to break new ground in horology with innovations, one of the most notable of which is the revolutionary Freak watch.
It is not surprising, then, that watches bearing the brand’s name are highly valued by enthusiasts and collectors.
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Full List of Swiss Watch Companies
At Gracious Watch we’ve spent a lot of time researching watch brands from around the world and most of our readers know we have a soft spot for Swiss watch brands and the quality and class they deliver in almost every timepiece. If you are new to watches or researching for an affordable Swiss watch, then this post should help.
If you are looking at buying your first Swiss watch we’d recommend you check out our Buying Your First Watch From Switzerland Guide. For those at the higher end of the budget range, the Most Prestigious Swiss Watch Brands For Men is always a good read.
While those posts all focus on the most affordable Swiss watch brands or the most famous Swiss watch brands, most people don’t realize that there are many Swiss watchmakers that are really great. We pulled together our full list below, it includes every Swiss watch maker we could find.
Affordable Swiss Watch Companies
- Ruse Du Rhone
$500 to $1,000
- Alpina Watches
- Raymond Weil
- Frederique Constant
$1,000 to $2,000
- Tag Heuer
- Oris Swiss Watches
- Meister Singer
- Jean Richard
- Maurice Lacroix
Full List of Swiss Watch Companies
- Bernhard H. Mayer
- Patek Philippe & Co.
- Omega SA
- TAG Heuer
- Breitling SA
- Audemars Piguet
- Vacheron Constantin
- Jaeger LeCoultre
- Ulysse Nardin
- A. Lange & Söhne
- Baume et Mercier
- Raymond Weil
- Frédérique Constant
- Panerai Luminor
- Maurice Lacroix
- Swiss Army
- Piaget SA
- Mont Blanc
- Franck Muller
- Carl F. Bucherer
- Alpina Watches
- Luminox Watch Company
- Universal Geneve
- Parmigiani Fleurier
- Atlantic Worldmaster Classic (Catalogue 2016/2017)
- Roger Dubuis
- H. Moser & Cie.
- Bremont Watch Company
- Doxa S.A.
- Invicta Watch Group
- Harry Winston
- Rue du Rhone
- Gv2 by Gevril
- Nautische Instrumente Mühle Glashütte
- Ernest Borel
- du Maurier
- Auguste Reymond
- Jacques Lemans
- Ernest Borel
- Gv2 by Gevril
- Alfred Dunhill Ltd.
- JACOBS & CO/CA
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