Has Swiss Made Lost Its Luster?
Updated: Feb 18
There was a long period of time, when the moniker of "Swiss Made" meant everything within the world of horology. The skilled artisans, of the 17th and 18th century of early pocket-watch and clock making, became well-known for their supreme eye for details, craftsmanship, and quality. Through the years and decades that followed, the watch artisans in Europe, not only garnered individual accolades and fame for their engineering expertise, in creating marvels of the timekeeping, but the regions of their watchmaking operations, also became synonymous with a certain, expected level of quality, as their knowledge of crafting fine instruments of timekeeping, was passed along to family and apprentices down the line.
The Swiss watchmakers continued to hone their craft through the centuries, designing timepieces with more complicated, mechanical, and mechanical automatic movements, comprised of only the best materials available. Over time, this quality in workmanship and design, became the standard bearer, and benchmark of the watchmaking industry.
This quality expectation, became a quality assurance, that any timepiece garnering the "Swiss Made" designation, would be subject to a certain level of quality, materials, and manufacturing, as laid-out by the Swiss Federation, in more modern times. I won't delve into the minutia of what designates a "Swiss Made" timepiece with this article, but the reality is, the tag of "Swiss Made" definitely meant everything in the world of watchmaking, in the not too distant past; but does that designation still hold the cache that is use to?
The art of fine watchmaking is no longer held by the constraints of regional boundaries. As the world has become more modernized in every way, from travel, to technology, and educational resources, knowledge once tightly held, and reserved for local or regional entities, is now easily shared and disseminated around the world.
So now the same knowledge of watchmaking, and available material and resources to craft and design timepieces on a comparable level as the "pure" Swiss brands, is available worldwide. This fact has never been more prevalent, with the explosion of micro-brands within the past decade; giving smaller brands the ability to offer affordable timepieces, containing excellent build quality, superior materials, powered by mechanical, mechanical automatic, and quartz movements, whether they be Asian, Swiss, German, etc, are on par with their Swiss counterparts.
I for one, don't even give "Swiss Made" a consideration anymore when considering a timepiece for purchase. My watch buying decision is based more on the look and functionality of the timepiece, and how it will mesh with my personal style sense and taste. My previous, hands-on experience with a particular brand, is a major factor as well in my decision to buy, or not. And as watch companies continue to create eye-catching designs, incorporating exceptional quality, country of origin of movement and build, will continue to be an afterthought for me, and many watch collectors enjoying the hobby.