Tips to Buying a Swiss Watch

Old Sep 2nd, 2003, 01:00 PM
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Tips to Buying a Swiss Watch

Swiss lovers.
We will be going to Zurich and Basel and would like to buy a nice Swiss watch.
Any suggestions?
egoodwin is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2003, 07:45 PM
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my hubs collects watches--
You need to get the basic prices of some of the watches you may like here in the states and bring them with you for comparison...

Just about all major brands are made in the US--You want to look for an Automatic watch, not a quartz watch--as the automatic movements are way way more valuable .

Unless you are a woman like me, and just want a gorgeous watch that keeps perfecto time with a battery...that really gets my hubs mad...LOL

My hubs suggest a ton-- ALL different levels of cost-
How high do you want to go?

These are some high end Swiss Automatic watches:

Patek Phillipe
Audemars Piquet

FORGET about Rolex--they do NOT keep time...

It all depends on how much you want to spend, whether you want stainless or 18 kt gold and the complications (means different innovations or things that the watch does)....

The basic watch to tell time with the date should be able to be purchased anywhere from $500 to $2000 in STAINLESS...

ALL THIS just came from my hubs who collects fine watches...
He also said that the average swiss watch import duty is $ he doesn't think you will save a whole lot.

In Switzerland, you may be able to find a lesser known brand for less money that might not be available in the states...there are a lot of little watch companies that never get imported into the US...

andy is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2003, 10:08 PM
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I purchased a Bucherer watch on my first trip to Europe and still wear it. I got my sister a cookoo clock and it still works after ... years. Also, I ordered from their catalog for Christmas presents and everything was great. I know there is a Bucherer shop in Zurich and suggest you check it out.
When I got my watch, if you wore it and showed that you were wearing it at the border, you didn't have to pay tax on it. I don't know if that is still valid.
LindaW is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2003, 10:47 PM
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When you get to Basel, take some time to walk around the main shopping area downtown. There is a store with an excellent Bucherer selection.
In addition to the brands listed, Chopard is another famous Swiss watchmaker.
I once read that Lugano and Luzern actually have the best prices on Swiss watches.
BTilke is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2003, 11:03 PM
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Excellent moderately-priced watches little found outside Switzerland are the "Oris" brand. They have automatic and quartz models.

In the pricier section, you might be tempted by the Jaeger-LeCoultre "Reverso" classic: many stainless steel and gold types, hand wound (which I prefer) and quartz.

In Basel check out the many stores on Freie Strasse.

Enjoy your trip.

Phil is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2003, 11:53 PM
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This is a very open question...what watch would you like? A formal watch to go with your suite? Or maybe a watch can take a lot of beating if you are an active person? Or a diver watch?

I have two Swiss watches at the moment: a Tag Heuer Link Automatic and a Breitling SuperOcean Pro. The first one I bought new in Thailand and the second one was bought used in Singapore. And what do they have in common? (apart from being great watches of course?)...well, they were a lot cheaper to buy abroad than here in Norway

I haven't been to Switzerland so I can't really say what they prices are like there but from what I understand you can get good deal when buying from different web stores. Go to you will find all the information that you need about watches

If I were to choose a watch and money was not an issue I would go for a Jaeger LeCoultre, IWC (this is actually a German watch if I'm not mistaken), Patek Philippe, A. Lange & Söhne, Blancpain etc. If you want best value for your money by a watch that has been used for a year or so...this means that you will get a great watch for great price.

And by the way...automatic watches are not the best time keepers in the world If you want an accurate watch go for a quartz watch

I hope that this has been of some help

gard is offline  
Old Sep 3rd, 2003, 05:43 AM
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If it's a lower priced watch you need check the Certina brand. My son wanted a Swiss watch souvenir for his birthday. Since we were in Bern that's the brand he selected. He was hoping instead for either a Rolex or a Jaeger but really likes the Certina.
francophile03 is offline  
Old Sep 3rd, 2003, 07:12 PM
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Got a beautiful Rado watch in Lucerne for $1K. Checked prices on the internet and they were comparable. I think the customs tax when you return to the US is $800 per person, $1600 per couple but they charge different prices for the band and watch itself so very difficult to estimate your taxes.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2003, 08:30 PM
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My all time favourites and two prized possesions- a Vacheron Constantin (the unusual shaped '1972' - has been a best seller since then) and the new line from Frank Muller called -Long Island. Totally classy. Both in gold but with leather straps.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2003, 09:58 PM
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I'm surprised that nobody mentioned MOVADO. It's my favorite.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2003, 01:51 PM
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Thank you one and all. I should have been clearer. I would like to purchase a nice moderately priced watch and avoid paying taxes on it from customs. I guess wearing it would work.
Any other suggestions?
egoodwin is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2003, 05:48 PM
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Forget Movado-- as you can buy it at every discount Movado site in the US..they are in MOST outlet malls...

IF you DO purchase a watch in Switzerland- buy it at the beginnning of the trip and wear it consistently...By the time you plow thru customs, no one should stop you....
andy is offline  
Old Sep 4th, 2003, 06:07 PM
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I know you mentioned you are looking for a moderate priced watch, but I purchased an inexpensive Jowissa wood watch about 9 years ago in Lucerne and I get compliments on it every time I wear it. It's still one of my favorite casual watches.
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Old Sep 4th, 2003, 06:16 PM
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(Ahem.... My Rolex happens to keep time quite well, thank you!)

If you buy a nice Swiss watch, you will probably get a nice box with it. You just might have to hide that box in your dirty laundry bag or someplace that customs won't be so inclined to want to search... IF they pick you out of the line when you come home. Yes, do wear the watch home, and maybe even under a long sleeved shirt/blouse.

Bucherer has a large store in Zurich right on the Bahnhofstrasse. They have a great selection of watches. I'm not sure if Bucherer is in Basel also, but I wouldn't be surprised. They are in Lucerne, Locarno, and other cities in Switzerland I've visited.

Basel has a store called Kurz that has nice watches. I bought a Swiss platinum piece there (instead of gold) in a bezel to wear on a chain at Kurz.

Bucherer sells their own brand of watches which are nice. They also sell Rolex, Patek, Mueller and other higher priced ones.

Looking at watches is a lot of fun. Take your time and find the one that is just right for you. You'll have MANY to choose from.
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Old Sep 4th, 2003, 07:51 PM
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You will be spoiled for choice as every second shop in Switzerland seems to be a jeweller or watch shop and why not, it is the home of the best there is. I used to sell watches retail and my favourites are Raymond Weil and Omega, both for their beautiful designs.Some of the new sports watches are fun. I have a number of watches and I have a sentimental favourite bought in Geneva at a little shop which made very reasonably priced but unique watches, this one has the map of the world on it and always reminds me of Geneva. If you are really interested there may be a watch museum you could visit also, I went to the one in Geneva and the enamel watches were magnificent. I don't however think you will find them much less in price than anywhere else.
KathyNZ is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2003, 01:05 AM
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Unless you are referring to a Rolex Air-King all models are "superlative chronometer officially certified" which simply means that they keep good time gaining/losing no more than a few minutes a month.

Rolex are classic watches and have been and will still continue to be for years to come.
m_kingdom is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2003, 02:41 AM
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I live in Switzerland. Please do a LOT of comparison shopping to make sure you know what prices are in the US. Go on the internet and also go to local department stores and jewelers. I don't think you will find Switzerland any cheaper, and may in fact pay more for the watch, as things are generally much more expensive here. When you buy the watch, make sure the store gives you have a copy of the warranty in English, and make sure that the warranty is an international one, that is, you can get your watch repaired in the US under the warranty. Most Swiss watch brands offer international warranties, but do check..

Switzerland has a VAT of about 7.5%. Most prices you will see include VAT, but do ask to make sure on big ticket items. For items over CHF 400 (about $300) you can get a refund of the VAT when you leave the country. Make sure you get all the papers necessary so that you can claim a refund of the VAT at the airport when you depart.

As for duty on the watch when you bring it home, I assume you are a US citizen. Take a look at the guide put together by the US Customs Services at If you are married, you will have an exemption of $1600, if you are single, you will have a limit of $800. That means everything you buy on your trip should be in the aggregate less than $800/$1600 for two. Above that amount, you will pay a duty of 3% on every $1,000 of items. (If you are married the flat duty rate is on $2000 worth of items.) The percentages increase on a sliding scale after the first flat duty rate. If you are only somewhat above the limit, it is up to the discretion of the customs officer to decide if he or will actually make you pay the duty. I have always found it to be better to declare everything and smile nicely at the customs guy if I am just a bit over, I find it to be unusual to be assessed duty on overages of between $100 ? 200.

If you aren't planning on doing a lot of other shopping on your trip, then you would have between $800 ? $1600 to buy the watch and not have to pay duty on it; and the officer may exempt you if your total is only slightly over that. I don't know if this is what you mean by "moderate" price for a watch. If you are single and the watch cost $1800 or less, you will only pay a duty of $30 on it. (If you are married, you could pay up to $3,600 and your duty would be $60 or less.)

It is always tricky to try to pass new goods off as old, esp. things like jewelry and watches. This is especially true as the Customs Service has a form you can fill out before you leave the US declaring high-value items like watches, cameras and jewelry as already being in your possession before your trip and therefore not purchased abroad. Without a form, and with you wearing what appears to be a new watch, you could be subject to questions. If they catch you not only will you pay a duty but you will pay a fine. From what I read on the website, your watch can also be taken from you by the Customs Service. As it will apparent from your Customs form that you just arrived from Switzerland, you may be in a suspect group to begin with, as it is no secret that people go to Switzerland and buy watches. The duty rate is actually pretty reasonable, and IMO it is worth paying a bit rather than running the risk of a fine or forfeiting the watch.

IMO the best prices on Swiss watches are in Asia, where they are about 25% cheaper than the US and there is no tax or VAT.

Cicerone is offline  
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