I’ve reviewed watches from all over the world and no other country has as strong of a hold on the watchmaking narrative as the Swiss. Swiss watch brands have become synonymous with luxury, fine craftsmanship, and status. But my perspective on these timepieces differs from most other watch collectors. That’s because I believe there are two issues everyone must confront when they consider purchasing from a Swiss watch brand: (1) “Swiss Made” is a very specific designation that is government-regulated; and (2) not all Swiss watch brands are created equal.

Most consumers don’t realize that in order for a watch to technically be considered “Swiss Made” it must be powered by a Swiss movement and 60% of the manufacturing costs must be incurred within Switzerland. While that definition is broad, many brands know that this label is a large value proposition for consumers. As such, there is no shortage of watchmakers willing to charge anywhere from $100 to $1,000,000+ for their timepieces. That’s why I’m lending my experience and history reviewing timepieces to help you navigate these brands. We’ll discuss their pros and cons, comparable differences, and unique features that can help you make an informed purchasing decision.


Image: Swatch
LocationBiel/Bienne, Switzerland
Founding Year1983
Popular Model CollectionsMoonSwatch, Blancpain X Swatch, Seconds of Sweetness
Design StyleAffordable classical dress to sport
Price Range$60 – $400

Kicking things off at the accessibly-priced end of the list is Swatch. Yes, the same Swatch responsible for the MoonSwatch craze that upended the entire industry. Say what you will about plastic Speedmasters (I’m into them), there is no denying this brand’s well-deserved ranking among the best Swiss brands out there.

After all, Swatch is largely responsible for saving the Swiss watch industry in the wake of the quartz crisis by bringing plastic Swiss watches to the masses. It is from this innovation and industry reshuffle that the Swatch Group (a conglomerate of several brands and manufacturers) was born in 1983. The strong presence of the Swatch Group on this list shows the lasting impact this had on the industry as a whole. Today, Swatch remains a great choice for anyone looking for a reliable (often plastic) watch on a budget. 

The main feature that I’ve always noted with Swatch timepieces is their fun take on modern designs and color palettes. That said, there really are no alternatives to a Swatch. The only thing I’ll point out about them that often goes overlooked is that most Swatch models only feature 30m of water resistance, which can present issues if the watch experiences exposure to water or is worn in excessively humid environments.


LocationLe Locle, Switzerland
Founding Year1853
Popular Model CollectionsPRX, Gentleman, Heritage
Design StyleAttainable sport and dress watches
Price Range$250 – $3,000

Established in 1853 and a member of the Swatch Group, you might recognize Tissot as the official timekeeper of your favorite sports. Sure, the brand has some “mall watch” vibes, but only because their impressive spec per dollar ratio and universally popular designs have mass market appeal. My personal favorites are the PRX, which was at the forefront of the affordable integrated bracelet craze, and the Seastar, the reigning champion of attainable Swiss dive watches. Many Tissot mechanical watches are powered by the Powermatic 80 movement, which boasts an impressive 80 hours of power reserve… not bad for automatic watches priced under $1,000.

It’s worth noting, other brands in the Swatch Group have access to the Powermatic 80. Like the price range but don’t see a Tissot for you? Check out Hamilton, Mido, and Certina for more great Swiss watches!


LocationBiel/Bienne, Switzerland
Founding Year1999
Popular Model CollectionsField, Essence, REEF
Design StyleHigh end microbrand sport watches
Price Range$840 – $2,300

Formex belongs on nearly every best-of list. Be it best watches under $2,000 or best microbrand watches, it’s hard not to love this Swiss microbrand that is churning out high-end, ultra comfortable sport watches. Like a handful of other watches on this list, Formex is independent. But even without the resources associated with being part of a large conglomerate, Formex manages to consistently produce value driven, spec-heavy field, dress, and dive watches. The Essence is a notable hit in recent years that only seems to get better with each iteration, and their 70 gram titanium field watch is about as good as a sub-$1,000 Selitta powered watch gets.


LocationSaint-Imier (canton of Bern), Switzerland
Founding Year1832
Popular Model CollectionsHydroconquest, Heritage, Conquest V.H.P., Spirit
Design StyleEntry level luxury
Price Range$820 – $8,200

Jumping up in price and moving us to the category of entry level luxury is Longines. Also a member of the Swatch Group, Longines brings the variety and value reminiscent of Tissot, but with a noticeable step up in finishing. The increase in price also allows for cool technology like their VHP quartz watches (accurate to ± 5 seconds per year with a 5-year battery life) and the provenance of a brand with a rich, nearly 200 year history. During World War II the brand was one of the “Dirty Dozen” contracted by the British Ministry of Defense, and continues to produce aviation and military inspired designs today such as the Longines Spirit.


LocationHölstein, Switzerland
Founding Year1904
Popular Model CollectionsPropilot, Aquis, Big Crown
Design StyleEntry level luxury
Price Range$1,200 – $8,200

As an enthusiast on a budget, Oris (along with Formex) is one of two Swiss watch brands that I regularly lust over. Thankfully for my wallet, they are both at the affordable end of the list. But even up here, prices are escalating. The primary factor for what determines the price of a watch is the movement inside, and we are now entering the realm of in house movements. While many Oris watches are powered by ETA/Sellita based calibers, in 2020 they introduced the Caliber 400—a five day anti-magnetic movement. This movement can now be found in the Aquis Date and the ProPilot. Oris has something for every enthusiast, whether you’re looking for a $1,000 dress watch like the Artelier or a $4,600 pilot watch with an in house movement and Kermit on the date wheel.

TAG Heuer

LocationLa Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Founding Year1860
Popular Model CollectionsFormula 1, Carrera, Aquaracer
Design StyleLuxury chronographs and other classic designs
Price Range$1,600 – $54,000

TAG Heuer is a bit of a guilty pleasure brand for me. Forums like to pick on the brand for “ruining Heuer” and losing their way by making plastic quartz watches. But if the MoonSwatch craze taught us anything, plastic quartz watches are cool!

While TAG Heuer might not have the consistent track record of coherent releases that other luxury watch brands on this list do, they still have the ability to impress even the pickiest enthusiasts such as myself. I’d rather see a brand swing and miss than shy away from innovation. Tag is constantly swinging and occasionally making contact. Seriously, have you seen the solar Aquaracer?! Setting aside the marketing photos of a very serious looking Ryan Gosling dominating TAG Heuer’s website, I’m declaring this brand cool in my books. After all, the Monaco was the watch of choice for Walter White. No matter if you want a smart watch (yes, they make those) or a $22,000 gold Carrera, Tag Heuer is a brand worth checking out.


LocationLe Locle, Switzerland
Founding Year1926
Popular Model CollectionsBlack Bay, Ranger, Pelagos
Design StyleLuxury Tool Watches
Price Range$1,900 –  $19,000

Who doesn’t love Tudor? This sister company of Rolex is responsible for horological hits such as the Black Bay and the Pelagos. The brand has always been a bit of an enigma for me. Most watches on this list have something notably unique about them, be it the loud designs of Hublot or the unique case shapes of Cartier. Tudor, on the other hand, seems to have built their reputation around perfectly boring, quality-focused tool watches. Take the Pelagos for example, there is arguably nothing aesthetically exciting about this watch. Yet, everyone I know that owns a Pelagos raves about it. And every time I try one on, I get it. Tudor is a great choice for anyone who couldn’t care less about turning heads and who simply wants a dependable daily driver built to last a lifetime.


LocationBiel/Bienne, Switzerland
Founding Year1848
Popular Model CollectionsSpeedmaster, Seamaster, Constellation
Design StyleLuxury sport and dress
Price Range$2,500 – $725,000

Many enthusiasts can blame Omega for pulling them into the watch world. Maybe they watched the 1969 moon landing in awe as a Speedmaster became the first watch worn on the moon. Or, maybe they grew up watching James Bond kick ass while wearing a Seamaster. Or, perhaps their favorite athletes competed in the Olympics with Omega as the official timekeeper since 1932. In terms of marketing, I say step aside Rolex, let’s give Omega the credit it is due for introducing generation after generation to Swiss watches. Beyond out-of-this-world chronographs and action-ready dive watches, Omega’s catalog includes a variety of quartz and automatic watches in nearly every size and style.


Image: Cartier
LocationParis, France
Founding Year1847
Popular Model CollectionsSantos, Tank, Crash, Pasha
Design StyleArt Deco, sport elegant dress
Price Range$3,000 – $240,000

Cartier is one of the few brands that has managed to ingrain itself in pop culture. Andy Warhol wore a Cartier tank (famously not even winding it), and the Santos is often credited as the first pilot’s watch AND the first men’s wristwatch. While these two fashion-forward models are undoubtedly well-deserving of their fame, Cartier’s entire catalog is full of under the radar sleeper hits. I often wonder why the Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver isn’t in as high demand as other luxury steel sport watches. On the dressier side, the Ballon Bleu de Cartier comes in a size for every wrist and is a quirky yet highly practical all-rounder. Most Cartier models are readily available for a few thousand dollars, making them the perfect choice for anyone looking to make a statement without paying inflated secondary market pricing. 


Image: Breitling
LocationGrenchen, Switzerland
Founding Year1884
Popular Model CollectionsNavitmer, Superocean, Aerospace
Design StyleLuxury aviation and sport
Price Range$3,400 – $71,000

I tend to think of Breitling as the Invicta of the luxury watch world. Even though they both make simple, classic dive watches (check out the Superocean Heritage), it’s the big watches that scream “look at me!” that get all the attention. But watches are about what YOU want, and if you want that big watch look with the bells and whistles of an automatic chronometer, Breitling has you covered with the 48mm Super Avenger II. Breitling’s most well known watch is the Navitimer, a busy looking pilot’s chronograph full of useful scales for performing flight calculations such as speed and fuel consumption. Available in three sizes from 41 up to 46mm, a modern day Navtimer can be a great choice for anyone looking to make a statement while enjoying a piece of aviation history.


LocationSchaffhausen, Switzerland
Founding Year1868
Popular Model CollectionsSpitfire, Portugieser, Big Pilot, Ingenieur
Design StyleLuxury pilot, sport and dress
Price Range$4,000 to $55,000

Any mention of the International Watch Company, more commonly referred to as IWC, is likely to conjure up images of pilot’s watches. This luxury watch manufacturer produced pilot watches during both world wars, and continues to make legible, aviation themed watches. Hallmarks of their catalog include the Mark XX and the Top Gun series. But there is a lot more to IWC Schaffhausen than bold full Arabic numeral dials, such as their use of their trademarked Ceratanium blend of titanium and ceramic. IWC is also responsible for the Aquatimer (a fun dive watch with symmetrical opposing crowns and an internal bezel) and the Gerald Genta designed integrated bracelet Ingenieur. The jury is still out on if the newest Ingenieur is overpriced, but as a whole, IWC tends to represent good value with a large portion of their catalog falling between $5,000 and $10,000. Of course, if you want a $55,000 perpetual calendar, they’ve got that too.


LocationGeneva, Switzerland
Founding Year1905
Popular Model CollectionsDatejust, Submariner, GMT Master, Milgauss
Design StyleLuxury sport and dress
Price Range$6,000 – $500,000

A common misconception is that Rolex is the tip of the horological iceberg. While Rolex undoubtedly makes great watches like the Daytona and GMT Master, I would argue that the most recognized watch brand in the history of the world is mostly, #1 at marketing. Don’t get me wrong, I like Rolex. Founded in 1905 by Hans Wildorf, Rolex released the Rolex Oyster case in 1926, and has been churning out hits ever since; like debuting a dive watch for the first time (along with two other brands) at the 1953 Basel Fair. If you want a Rolex and are willing to deal with wait-lists and aftermarket prices, you will find yourself with a quality timepiece ready to last a lifetime. But if your heart isn’t set on Rolex, keep reading for more brands that offer alternatives worth considering in the world of luxury Swiss watches.


Image: Hublot
LocationNyon, Switzerland
Founding Year1980
Popular Model CollectionsBig Bang, Classic Fusion, MP
Design StyleExtravagant luxury
Price Range$6,000 – $5,000,000 (yes, you read that right)

Hublot is one one those brands watch enthusiasts love to pick on publicly, but secretly enjoy. Or maybe I’m just projecting my own appreciation for this over-the-top Swiss brand. Look no further than recent Big Bang releases for a sense of their elegant humor. Want a rhinoceros on the dial of a $24,000 watch with a fabric strap? If that isn’t your cup of tea, that same kind of cash can also get you a watch made of recycled coffee grounds. Is it ridiculous? Absolutely. But Hublot has hung their hat on using unique materials to create the absurd and unexpected. Jest as we may about the design and materials, Hublot’s three hand models start at around 6K, offering an entry point to luxury lower than many other brands on this list.


Image: Jaeger-LeCoultre
LocationVallée de Joux, Switzerland
Founding Year1833
Popular Model CollectionsReverso, Polaris, Master Ultra Thin
Design StyleLuxury sport and dress
Price Range$7,000 – $60,000

Ah, Jaeger-LeCoultre, a brand famous for two things: Being so hard to pronounce we all say “JLC” for fear of ridicule, and for making the watch that does the cool flippy trick. OK, maybe that is a gross oversimplification of this horological giant responsible for much more than the Reverso. Their bragging rights include revolutionizing the industry by pioneering making watches entirely under their own roof. They are also responsible for producing over 1300 unique calibers, many of which found their way into watches from Audemars Piguet, Patek Phillippe and Vacheron Constantin, arguably the coolest way to gain street cred for a Swiss watch brand. The Polaris (a striking steel sport watch starting at $10,000) is my favorite offering from the brand, but you can’t go wrong with any choice from their modern lineup of four distinct collections.


LocationLe Locle, Switzerland
Founding Year1865
Popular Model CollectionsChronomaster Sport, Pilot, Defy Skyline
Design StyleLuxury sport and dress
Price Range$6,000 – $400,000

When I think of Zenith, the first thing that comes to mind is the race for the first automatic chronograph in 1969. This horological giant established in 1865 had milestones before this, but their first place finish (beating out Heuer and Breitling from this list) demonstrates quality and innovative drive that defines Zenith to this day. That 1969 achievement brought us the El Primero, used even by Rolex until the year 2000, and continues to power Zenith timepieces even today. Zenith combines a passion for accuracy with avant-garde design, and has won more chronometry awards than any other watch brand. No matter if you’re in the market for a simple pilot’s watch, a flyback chronograph, or the funky case shape of a Defy, Zenith is prepared to deliver it with style and accuracy.


Image: Blancpain
LocationPaudex/Le Brassus, Switzerland
Founding Year1735
Popular Model CollectionsFifty Fathoms, Air Command, Ladybird
Design StyleLuxury sport and dress
Price Range$10,000 – prices available upon request

Before Blancpain was making plastic watches with Swatch, they were making history with stainless steel. Founded in 1735, Blancpain gets credit for being the world’s oldest watch brand, and the Fifty Fathoms was one of three dive watches that debuted at the 1953 Basel Fair. Like other brands, they struggled during the quartz crisis, and a subsequent acquisition by Jacques Piguet and Jean-Claude Biver set them on the path for complication-heavy luxury including the Blancpain 1735, which boasts a tourbillon, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, and chronograph, just to name a few complications. While most famous for the Fifty Fathoms to this day, their modern catalog includes 5 distinct collections of everything from aviation-themed chronographs to minute repeaters featuring exotic scenes and “please call us” pricing.


Image: Breguet
LocationL’Abbaye, Switzerland
Founding Year1775
Popular Model CollectionsTradition, Classique, Marine, Type XX
Design StyleLuxury Dress Watches
Price Range$18,000 – prices available upon request

Factoring in precious metals, the cost of developing in-house movements, and the premiums consumers are willing to pay for provenance, Swiss watches can get expensive fast. Yet somehow, Breguet still seems like a fair deal in the world of luxury timepieces. After all, no single name in horological history carries more weight than the name Abraham Louis Breguet. Who else is responsible for the infamous Marie Antoinette watch and inventing the tourbillon? The Swatch Group acquired Breguet in 1999, where the distinct DNA of the brand’s refined, yet complicated dress watches is alive and well today. Despite its rich history, Breguet watches are some of the most slept on in the secondary market, where they are readily available for under 10K. New prices start at around $18,000, but if you want the double tourbillon paved with 310 diamonds, you’ll have to call for pricing. 


Image: Piaget
LocationGeneva, Switzerland
Founding Year1874
Popular Model CollectionsLimelight, Polo, Altiplano
Design StyleLuxury dress watches
Price Range$6,000 – $90,000

After raving about the iconic case shapes of Cartier, it is only fair to include Piaget on this list. Look no further than the organic swirling case of the Limelight, the broad brushed bezel of the Polo, or the the aggressive lugs of the Altiplano to know this is a brand that knows how to make a statement—not to mention the fact that these cases are often blinged out with dozens of diamonds. Of course, there is more to this luxury brand than flashy watches. Founded in 1874, Piaget got its start as a movement manufacturer, so it should be no surprise that high-end in house calibers can be found powering their eye-catching timepieces.

Ulysse Nardin

Image: Ulysse Nardin
LocationLe Locle, Switzerland
Founding Year1846
Popular Model CollectionsThe Freak, Blast, Classico
Design StyleHaute horology with a twist
Price Range$7,000 – prices available upon request

Best known for the Freak, Ulysse Nardin refers to their style as haute horology with a twist. That’s big talk most brands might not be able to back up, but if anyone can make such a claim, it’s a brand that made a watch without a dial or hands, and decided to call it the Freak. Ulysse Nardin watches seem more like engineering marvels that also happen to tell the time. I mean, who buys a diamond crusted flying tourbillon like The Blast to tell when it’s time to clock out for the day? Prices start at $7,000, but many are “on demand”. 

Roger Dubuis

Image: Roger Dubuis
LocationGeneva, Switzerland
Founding Year1995
Popular Model CollectionsExcalibur, Knights of the Round Table, Velvet
Design StyleAvant-garde
Price Range$41,000 to $158,000

Provenance is coveted in Swiss watchmaking, and this list is full of brands established in the 18th and 19th centuries. But sticking out like a sore thumb, which I think might be taken as a compliment, is Roger Dubuis founded only recently in 1995. Calling his creations contemporary and avant-garde doesn’t begin to capture what this brand is all about. Even if you can’t afford the “entry level” price tags of $41,000, do yourself a favor and scroll through the inspiring collections. Just to give a taste, you’ll find watches such as the 18k Gold Double Tourbillon Excalibur featuring a skeletonized dial—a watch that happens to be sold out, confirming some extravagant enthusiasts are out there actually appreciating these unique timepieces in the (precious) metal.


Image: Jaquet Droz
LocationLa Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Founding Year1738
Popular Model CollectionsAutomata, Grande Seconde, Lady 8
Design StyleAutomata and other high end complications
Price Range$10,000 – prices available upon request

I don’t want to admit how long it took to write this little blurb because I was mesmerized by the Rolling Stone Automaton and couldn’t stop watching videos of it. With a backstory dating back to 1721, the brand was born of Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s love for clock making and precision mechanics. Even from the early days, automata was an integral part of the brand that is now making a watch with Keith Richards’ guitar displayed prominently on the dial. Outside the realm of rock n’ roll timepieces, Jacquet-Droz has it all, from minute repeaters with hand painted tropical birds to enameled tourbillons. As to be expected, prices are not advertised without inquiry, but some internet sleuthing suggests you can expect to pay around over $250,000 for some of these creations.

Audemars Piguet

Image: Audemars Piguet
LocationLe Brassus, Switzerland
Founding Year1857
Popular Model CollectionsRoyal Oak, Royal Oak Offshore, Code 11.59
Design StyleLuxury sport and dress
Price Range$16,000 – prices available upon request

Rounding out our list are three brands that make up what is known as the holy trinity of watchmaking. Every aspect of the watches produced by these brands is of the highest quality. Be it finishing, materials, or meticulously crafted in house movements, no expense is spared in the manufacturing process—a cost passed down to consumers.

In a list ranked by price point, these often shockingly expensive brands are almost interchangeable. But for the sake of accuracy, we will start out with the “bargains” of AP. After all, you can get a quartz 33mm Royal Oak for $16,000. Just a mention of the name Audemars Piguet brings to mind iconic Gerald Genta designs, Jay Z lyrics, and price tags that exceed those found on car lots.

Vacheron Constantin

Image: Vacheron Constantin
LocationPlan-les-Ouates, Canton of Geneva, Switzerland
Founding Year1755
Popular Model CollectionsOverseas, Historiques, Traditionnelle
Design StyleLuxury sport and dress
Price Range$16,500 – prices available upon request

To me, no brand better exemplifies that idea of stealth wealth and understated luxury than Vacheron Constantin. While everyone knows the name Rolex, and any enthusiast can spot a Royal Oak from across the room, less will recognize something from the Overseas watch collection, despite the $25,000 to $50,000 asking price. With a history dating back to 1755, VC had its sights on excellence, with pocket watches as far back as the early 1800s featuring repeater complications, enamel dials, and engraved cases. This early established innovation and craftsmanship has carried over to the watches of today including the classic design of the American 1921 driving watch and versatile Dual Time.

Patek Philippe

LocationGeneva, Switzerland
Founding Year1839
Popular Model CollectionsCalatrava, Aquanaut, Nautilus
Design StyleLuxury sport and dress
Price Range$16,000 – prices available upon request

Rounding out the holy trinity section of our list is Patek Philippe with their famous slogan: “You never actually own a Patek, you merely look after it for the next generation”. With MSRP starting at $16,000 for a small quartz watch and highly inflated secondary market prices, looking after a Patek for the next generation probably isn’t in my future. But hey, at least I can enjoy some gold Nautilus wrist shots in my Instagram feed and live vicariously through those who were willing to drop $200,000 to look after one. If the Nautilus sticker price doesn’t shock you enough, check out our list of The Most Expensive Watches ever sold at auction.

Richard Mille

Image: Richard Mille
LocationLes Breuleux, Switzerland
Founding Year2001
Popular Model Collections001 Tourbillon, Smiley Tourbillon, Bonbon Collection
Design StyleExtravagant luxury
Price Range$100,000 – multi millions

When I started organizing this list by price, I thought surely it would conclude with a holy trinity brand. But no, here comes Richard Mille with a steel chair (am I memeing correctly?). Like Hublot, it’s a brand enthusiasts love to hate. No matter your thoughts on Richard Mille, it’s impossible not to be drawn in by their eccentric designs. Yes, the watches cost anywhere from $100,000 to the multi millions. But let’s be honest—with prices that high, MSRP is irrelevant. Richard Mille combines unrivaled precision with absurd design in the most delightful way possible.

2 thoughts on “2024’s Best Swiss Watch Brands | All Are Not Created Equal”

    • Hi, Andy:

      Gah thank you for catching that – it was supposed to be updating automatically – fixed now!



Leave a Comment