Buy a watch in Switzerland?

Old Mar 7th, 2000, 09:44 AM
  #1  
Mary
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Buy a watch in Switzerland?

Hoping someone in Fodor-land has some knowledge (expertise?) in the pros and cons of buying a watch in Switzerland. . .we are visiting Lucerne next week and wondered if the watches are a "good deal" for American shoppers (having mocked Americans buying things at The Gap in London--given the exchange rate--I don't want to be guilty of the same thing!); if you have an opinion or useful tips, I'd love to hear them.

As always, thanks in advance!

Mary
 
Old Mar 7th, 2000, 10:12 AM
  #2  
Bob Brown
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I am no expert! But for the past two years I have been shopping for a nice watch. I finally made my selection and made the purchase here at home, over the web.

I think it depends on what kind of watch you want. To find a new Rolex at a discounted price, you have to know somebody special. If you want a Tag Heuer, Breitling, Omega, Cartier, Baume and Mercier or Ebel there are e-commerce places on the web like World Of Watches that sell at 25-30% off. ($10 shipping then you usually have to pay someone to adjust the band for you.) Mostly the places that I have seen on the web display watches that list under $7,000. The high end for Omegas are something under $3,500 before discount.
If you are looking in the $10,000 to $15,000 range, then the best bet is to price watches here before you arrive in Luzern. I saw quite a few jeweled watches in the 15,000 chf range when I was window shopping last year. I decided to come home and buy. I think you can do better over here unless you have an "in" over there.
 
Old Mar 7th, 2000, 01:57 PM
  #3  
Linda
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I bought my first 18 karat gold Bucherer watch 20 years ago & it is still running! I purchased it in Interlaken and wore it (so I didn't have to pay taxes). Since then, I have used their internet site to have them send catalogues and purchased watches, clocks, etc., for Christmas presents. Ten days after we ordered, they arrived in great condition. I recommend Bucherer highly. They have all levels of watches, including Rolex.
 
Old Mar 7th, 2000, 02:36 PM
  #4  
Donna
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You should definitely do your homework before leaving home so you know what you're looking at and what a fairly reasonable price would be. I've found, though, that there's almost nothing that can't be found for much less stateside (particularly considering the sales taxes in Europe). If you find something really appealing at a reasonable price that you'll treasure because you found it and bought it while in Switzerland, that's one thing. But, Lucerne is so touristy, you're better off shopping elsewhere in Switzerland for everything. We found it second only to Zurich for inflated prices. Saw the same items all over for much, much less (especially Appenzel, for example). Remember, too, that purchasing a watch will put a dent in your customs allowance.
 
Old Mar 7th, 2000, 03:08 PM
  #5  
Amik
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2 yrs. ago we've been in Switzerland, in Zurich we bought 2 Swatch watches, after checking about 6-7 stores, where the prices were the all same.
At the Zurich airport the price was virtually the same. Here in Chicago we checked when returning the price was virtually the same.
So you decide...
Amik
 
Old Mar 7th, 2000, 03:16 PM
  #6  
Cheryl Z.
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Mary, I bought one a few years ago at a little shop in Lucerne, good price, and just what I wanted, and am still happy with it. On a more recent trip, my husband searched everywhere in Switzerland for one for himself, and couldn't find anything reasonable. There was a particular one he liked but too costly. Ended up getting the same watch at Costco for much less money a few months later at home. I say, if you find something you like, get it! You might not get to Switzerland again.
 
Old Mar 7th, 2000, 04:59 PM
  #7  
Al
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In 1969, I went into a watch shop in Geneva to look at wristwatches. I wanted one with an alarm. The shop owner laid out six watches and they were priced at about $25, $75, $125, $150, $175, and $295, or some such range. I asked why the cheapest watch was priced that way. It was Japanese, the owner said. And I bought it and it worked well for more than 20 years. The others? All Swiss. And the owner said he sold 10 of the Japanese watches for every Swiss watch he sold. "They're nice, but they're too delicate and they cost too much," he said.
 
Old Mar 9th, 2000, 10:45 AM
  #8  
maryann hensinger
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i purchased a fine swiss watch in st. maarten about 4 years ago and 6 months later i was in switzerland where it was considerably more than i paid. my advice.....know the price of the watch before u travel there.
 
Old Mar 9th, 2000, 05:18 PM
  #9  
Bob Brown
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We just recently bought a nice watch for my wife. After considerable shopping, we went with a jewelry store price because I could not find a place on the web to beat it.
My suggestion is to look in stores, and catalogs, and the web. Some of the web sites have very clear and detailed photographs with very clear descriptions.
Then get exact prices from several sources, including a web search.
A good place to start is
www.pricescan.com/home_watches.asp
You can get prices on Omega, Tissot and Rolex as well as cheaper lines such as Seiko and Bulova. Then, in Switzerland, shop carefully. And don't forget that you will either have to be a little of a smuggler, or pay duty on anything over the limit, which I believe is $400 per person but can be pooled.
 
Old Mar 10th, 2000, 10:13 PM
  #10  
Tara
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Amik: Surely you jest! I priced Swatch watches in Zurich. The same watches at the airport were about one-third less. The same watches at our local discount stores were less than half the prices in the shops in Europe.
 
Old Mar 10th, 2000, 10:16 PM
  #11  
Tara
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P. S. My husband's daughter asked us to bring her some Swiss chocolates. We thought the prices (even for the same items at the grocery stores) were ridiculous. When we got home, we bought her a bag of the SAME foil wrapped beauties at our local mall. She was thrilled and didn't even notice the ingredients were listed in English!
 
Old Mar 12th, 2000, 01:05 PM
  #12  
Bob
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No bargains on watches in Switzerland. If you find a unique one you like, buy it. Check out Ashford.com for good prices before you take the trip. They probably beat same watch prices and service is good.
 
Old Mar 12th, 2000, 04:52 PM
  #13  
Bob Brown
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Tara's story about the English writing onthe bag of candy reminded me of something that happened to me when I worked for a US government agency.
I made regular runs on the shuttle bus out to the headquarters building where there were quite a few people who had a knowledge of Russian.
A light colonel, head of another branch, asked me to bring him in block print the words "Top Secret Red". He said to me as I left, "Now I want it in Russian."
I said, "OK". And asked him "Any particular reason?" He said "We are writing a report and we want to put those words on the top of each page so that the reader will think he or she is reading a captured Russian document."
(One conveniently written in English I presume.)
Well, I returned with the requested caption, neatly printed in big, block Cyrillic letters.
The light colonel looked at it and said "I can't use this, it is written in Russian!" I said "What the %^^$$% did you want?" Well to make a long story shorter, he wanted the words in English but written with the Cyrillic characters that mostly closely approximated what we use.
When I asked him if he thought Russians wrote in English, he said "All I have talked to did." C'est la Guerre. or some such phrase. They use our money; so I guess they use our language!!!!
Right.
Good thing that chocolate eats the same in any language.
 
Old Mar 13th, 2000, 05:25 AM
  #14  
Mustangs81
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Not as covert as Bob's story and not watch related, but we were in Chambord, France and I thought that I would buy my favorite liquor...Chambord. I picked up a bottle to read the label. It said in small print...distrubuted from xyz company, Auburndale, Florida (which is a small rural town 45 miles from my home).
 
Old Mar 13th, 2000, 04:28 PM
  #15  
Amy & Roger
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We spent part of our honeymoon in Lucerne and both bought unique watches. They were not terribly expensive ($400-$600) and it is possible they may be cheaper elsewhere. However, when people notice my beautiful watch and ask where I got it, it is worth it to me to say "Switzerland" instead of "Costco" or off of the internet. Everytime we look at our watches it reminds us of our wonderful time in Lucerne. Lucerne was so beautiful, we went back a second time and are planning our third trip. Buy the watch there and stay at the Chateau Gutch on the hill.
 
Old Mar 14th, 2000, 03:49 AM
  #16  
Mustangs81
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To Amy's point, I had a gold Rolex that needed repair (it has not worked more than it has worked!). We were going to Zurich and I thought that I would be so COOL to have it repaired at the Rolex factory there, and then casually throw out to friends "yes, I had my watch fixed while in Zurich". We made the requisite appointment with the watch repair representative. We sat across from his hugh mahogany desk and waited for the verdict. He said "Madam, we can repair it, but it will take 6 weeks." "SIX WEEKS?" I cried. "Yes, madam, I have to order the part from New York".
 
Old Apr 5th, 2001, 07:57 AM
  #17  
Andrea
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We were there at Christmas, and my husband bought an IWC for about US $1000 less than we've seen it on any websites (he bought it at the Bucherer in Geneva).
 
Old Apr 5th, 2001, 08:52 AM
  #18  
stirn
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Your thoughts please: Is it different (1) to take pleasure from the fact that you bought something in Europe, because it reminds you of that trip and the good times, etc., than (2) to buy something in Europe so you can tell other people where you got it? I may be guilty of both, but the first sounds nostalgic, and the latter, like a show-off.
 

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