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Does It Have To Be Swiss?

At a recent watch exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery a good friend and avid watch collector housed a particular theory, that when shopping for a watch there was only one prerequisite; it had to be Swiss. Perhaps that sentiment would have been without rebuke a decade ago, but with the emergence of brands such as Bremont and Shinola, how important it is to have the Swiss-made stamp?

With brands like Christopher Ward offering complete transparency of the manufacturing costs, is this also the 'game changer' that people are making it out to be? Will more esteemed luxury watch brands now have to rethink their model or are people still willing to splurge out on extortionate mark ups for namesake?

Nick English & Giles English
Nick English & Giles English

In a recent podcast episode, we not only posed these questions to Co-Founder of Bremont; Giles English, Co-Founder of Christopher Ward; Mike France, and Head of Marketing in Europe for Shinola; John Argento - but also sought the educated opinions of the Editor of luxury watch magazine Quill & Pad; Elizabeth Doerr. 

Elizabeth, does it have to be Swiss? 

“It is a great sign post when looking for a good watch that Swiss made is a great first flag. Using that label is a great start. People who know more, know they can get superb watches in other places. Seiko in Japan for example. Germany are making some of the best watches in the world today. Not many people know that. Swiss made is a good place to begin and learn, but you don't have to stay there. If you like your research, you'll quickly find other places.”

Christopher Ward
Christopher Ward

How can we really tell the difference between mid-range and luxury? 

“Look at a lot of the parts such as the strap. Cheap watch brands and some expensive watch brands source them in the same place. However, the finish and design set them apart. The expensive side will be customised, but you’re right, most people can't tell the difference.” 

Does that annoy the luxury brands that they can be so easily imitated? 

“I think the fake industry has a lot to do with it. There's a lot of watches coming out of china and the quality is surprisingly good. Sometimes it's hard to tell what's what and where it comes from. Even the lower end manufacturers are now upping their games.”

Team Shinola
Team Shinola

So how can they combat that? 

“Many watchmakers use their name as their branding, even if they are Swiss made, you don't need to state it on the dial - there are several brands that don't - the brand's name is more a quality seal than the Swiss made badge.” 

Elizabeth Doerr
Elizabeth Doerr

Discover the full podcast here and listen to all four of the above-mentioned horology insiders to get the official expert verdict. What do you think, do the best watches have to be Swiss made?


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