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viranpooja Jun 12th, 2016 08:53 AM

Buying watches in Switzerland
Pros and cons of buying a watch in Switzerland? If you have an opinion or useful tips, I'd love to hear it. And not wanting to spend thousands. I'm from USA.

As always, thanks in advance!

Dukey1 Jun 12th, 2016 09:03 AM

Consider your duty-free allowance for re-entry into the USA. Are you willing and able to stay within that amount (I'm not even going to talk about the people who try to get stuff back into the country without paying)?

Do you have specific brands and models in mind and if you do, have you compared the current prices you can get without having to buy them in Switzerland?

And, of course, you need to at least consider the reasoning behind wanting a Swiss-made timepiece in the first place and exactly what you are looking for in terms of accuracy, quality, workmanship, etc. There are some who might tell you that for accuracy there are Japanese-made products which are superior to anything made in Switzerland.

imaginaryjazz Jun 12th, 2016 09:26 AM

There are hundreds of Swiss-made watches for sale in the USA, so you don't really need to travel there to buy one, especially a mass-market model costing a few hundred dollars. Costco has Wenger and Invicta in stock every day, for example.

You'll easily be able to find Swatch, Invicta, Wenger, Victorinox, and dozens more Swiss-made, quartz-movement watches in most any city in Switzerland, at prices comparable to in the USA. Most use the ETA or Sellita movements factory-made in Switzerland; those are churned out by the millions in highly-automated factories and installed in cases by the individual manufacturers of the various watch brands.

If you're looking for a mechanical movement, especially one with multiple complications, hand-made in Switzerland -- they're going to be outside of your budget. Just like they're outside of mine! But I still hope to own one someday. IWC Schaffhausen makes a few "budget" models that are under $10K...

spaarne Jun 12th, 2016 01:04 PM

<i> Buying watches in Switzerland
Posted by: viranpooja on Jun 12, 16 at 11:53am</i>

My wife bought a watch in CH. The selection is enormous. How is the price of a watch determined? You can buy in any price range. Shop.

I suggest that you also check out the selection of Swiss Army Knives. The prices are good and selection is extensive. I bought souvenirs for myself and daughter, and gifts for relatives.

Dukey1 Jun 12th, 2016 01:15 PM

Why would anyone waste their duty-free allowance on something they can buy in the US "for the same price?"

neckervd Jun 13th, 2016 06:33 AM

if you are looking for a luxury watch (price from 1 million USD upwards), like
the choice at Geneva may be bigger.

sparkchaser Jun 13th, 2016 06:47 AM

<i>Why would anyone waste their duty-free allowance on something they can buy in the US "for the same price?"</i>

Bragging rights?

I don't get it either.

Margaretlb Jun 13th, 2016 10:43 AM

Perhaps the OP would just like it for a souvenir. I live in NYC and there is very little that I can't find here or online, but I still like to shop for kitchen items when on vacation; I enjoy being reminded of my trip every time I use one of these souvenir items. So not necessarily "bragging rights".

Christina Jun 13th, 2016 11:26 AM

The OP never said they want to buy something at the same price, or for a souvenir, I presume he thinks he'll get some bargains over there, that's all. Bargains in Switzerland.

sparkchaser Jun 13th, 2016 12:39 PM

Cimier Watch Company does a watch workshop where you build your own timepiece. That's certainly something you can't do back in the u.S.:

It's still not a "deal" but it is pretty cool.

<i>Bargains in Switzerland.</i>

I laughed so hard, water came out my nose.

ticino Jun 14th, 2016 09:42 AM

Given the fact that European luxury goods are usually a lot more expensive in the US (at least than in NY), it would't surprise me if you could get a good deal in Switzerland.

Cartier for example is cheaper in Switzerland than in many European countries, including France and Italy. Swiss VAT is only 8%.

Check Cartier's Swiss and American websites (.ch and .us) to compare prices. Note that the American prices don't include sales tax, will Swiss prices do.

imaginaryjazz Jun 14th, 2016 09:00 PM

viranpooja, here's one of those lovely Swiss watches that neither of us can afford:

suze Jun 15th, 2016 01:21 PM

<Pros and cons of buying a watch in Switzerland?>

Con: They are REALLY expensive. I've been to Swizerland 5 times and each trip think I will get one. Never have.

spaarne Jun 15th, 2016 08:25 PM

<i>Buying watches in Switzerland
Posted by: viranpooja on Jun 12, 16 at 11:53am
Pros and cons of buying a watch in Switzerland? If you have an opinion or useful tips, I'd love to hear it. And not wanting to spend thousands. I'm from USA.</i>

Plenty of opinions here in the last few days, but I don't see anyone who has actually bought a watch in CH. My wife, now ex, did. In 1993 we were driving through Switzerland on our way to Istanbul. She decided she wanted a watch. In a small village I parked and took a hike. She went into a store and bought. As I recall it was a few hundred dollars. I wrote to her yesterday and asked her if she still has it. Her reply: "The watch still works and I love it! It is a Tissot and I have changed the battery for it only about five times."

It was mentioned above that Swiss prices include 6% VAT. Keep in mind that VAT is refundable on departure from Switzerland, as is the case throughout Europe.

The individual exemption from US Customs duty is $800. This can be combined for a family so multiply that by the number in your family. Above that I believe the duty is about 10% of purchase price for most goods.

As a general rule prices of locally manufactured goods are lower than they are in some distant country, e.g. the USA. My Birkenstock sandals are about 50% lower in Germany. The Swiss Army knives are lower in Geneva. The only exception I have seen to this general rule is King Oscar sardines in Norway, costing significantly more than in Michigan. I was shocked and put the can back on the shelf. I do not have comparison prices for Swiss watches so no comment. My last watch is a Sieko, a gift and indestructable for over 20 years.

maxima Jun 15th, 2016 08:47 PM

I purchased a Bucherer watch in Switzerland some time in the 1990s. Back the it cost about $125. Its an everyday watch. I recently replaced the crystal and the Swiss movement, as I had dropped it on the kitchen floor and damaged the movement.. or perhaps it was damaged before that. The repair cost $120 in NYC. Why repair it.. it is still a good looking watch and I prefer a smaller face than what is available today. yes you can buy watches in the US for what it cost to repair but by comparison the cases and linked band are far superior to what is available at that price.

Bucherer is a well known watch company in Switzerland and has stores in major cities. They carry other watch brands as well. While many are in the luxury category and super expensive, they also carry watches that you may not see at home. I have never seen the watch I purchased in the US. probably because the everyday styles as opposed to luxury ones are not imported.

so if you are looking, know your price limit, and ask about an international warranty and repair if needed in the US it may depend on the brand. and use a credit card that doesn't have a foreign currency conversion fee .

imaginaryjazz Jun 16th, 2016 10:12 AM

I bought a Tissot a couple of years ago. At Costco! :^) Also picked up a Mondaine through a Groupon offer; they're also on eBay (as is everything else in the world).

neckervd Jun 18th, 2016 09:30 AM

"Cartier for example is cheaper in Switzerland than in many European countries, including France and Italy. Swiss VAT is only 8%."
You can asked to get a VAT refund when you leave the country anyway (airport, road customs)

viranpooja Jun 19th, 2016 06:04 PM

Margaretlb - you are right. I am purchasing as a souvenir for myself and also for my father/FIL.

For those who were assuming that I am wanting to get a watch as "bragging rights" are definitely under the wrong impression.

spaarne - that's great to hear that she still loves and uses her watch. Thanks for the info!

imaginaryjazz - that looks amazing. IF ONLY I could afford that

maxima - thanks for that useful info! good point about asking about warranty

Thanks for the info about the VAT refund which I was not aware of! I appreciate all the responses. I guess I will just shop around and see. I am not even sure if there will be watch stores in the Lauterbrunnen valley which is where I will be staying primarily.

sassy27 Jun 19th, 2016 07:02 PM

My friend was living in Switzerland for a few years and during one of my visits, she took me to a store to browse and said for her young nieces, she wanted to buy them swatch watches. They were so popular in the 80's and thought it would be neat to get them one from Switzerland. I'm not sure if she did but I understood the reasoning. It's the same thing when I brought back Swiss Army knives for my family. Yeah, I can get them here in the US but I got them actually in Switzerland so it just means a little more and my SIL loved the purple one.

So go and look around. Have a price in mind of how much you are willing to spend. If you see one that you like at that price or lower, then go for it. Every time you wear it, you will know where you got it and makes it worth it.

viranpooja Jun 20th, 2016 03:23 PM

That's very true Sassy27. I agree with you. I bought some kitchen items from Greece that I can get here in USA but every time I use it, all these memories of walking down the streets of Rhodes comes into my mind. Thanks for the reminder!

amymac Mar 7th, 2017 08:02 AM

I am going to Switzerland this summer and looking in to staying around Lauterbrunner area. I also am thinking I will look for a watch and a Swiss army knives for souvenirs.

Any hints on Switzerland from your trip would be awesome!


FuryFluffy Mar 7th, 2017 09:01 AM

amymac: If you stay in Lauterbrunnen, the hotel/shop Camping Jungfrau near Staubbach waterfall sell a large choice of Swiss army knives for souvenirs. (They said "Official affiliate to Victorinox", something like that.)

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