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Best place to buy a watch in Switzerland - Spoilt for choice

Best place to buy a watch in Switzerland Spoilt for choice

In the spiritual heartland of fine watchmaking, it’s easy to find a place to buy a watch in Switzerland. But where to look depends on what you are looking for.

With 259 geographical locations across Switzerland with at least one watch retailer, finding a place to buy a watch in the birthplace of fine watchmaking is no major challenge. According to a recent report published by the Mercury Project, there are 978 watch retail outlets in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, each stocking on average 9.1 watch brands in its collection.

But where you should look to buy a watch in Switzerland depends on what exactly you are looking for. Cities like Basel, Berne, Lausanne and St. Gallen have a higher proportion of chain retailers, who are more likely to stock watches costing less than 1,000 Swiss francs. These retailers, which include stores like Manor, Christ and Coop City, will typically stock the top three watch brands sold in Switzerland: Certina, Fossil and Tissot.

If you are looking for luxury watches, you need to head for Zurich or Geneva, which are not surprisingly the two cities with the greatest number of watch stores in Switzerland. While you might naturally think of Geneva, with its proximity to the head offices of many of the world’s biggest names in watchmaking, as the best place to buy a Swiss watch, subtle differences mean that Zurich could actually be a better place to buy a watch in Switzerland. The Mercury Project uses a “Brand Density Score” (the cumulative total of brands available at stores in the city) to give an idea of the choice available. At 819, the figure is much higher for Zurich than for Geneva (677) because of the high number of mono-brand boutiques in Geneva. So if you are looking for a particular brand, Geneva is probably the better option (and the Geneva Watch Tour offers a practical way of taking in the city’s watch stores and sites of horological interest), but if you are looking for overall choice, then Switzerland’s financial centre is the place to go.

For overall choice across all price segments, however, you need to follow the tourists in Switzerland. They buy their watches in picturesque locations like Interlaken and Lucerne. Although there are fewer stores in these locations, particularly in the tiny tourist trap of Interlaken, there is a much better choice across all price segments to account for the demands of the tourist trade. Interlaken in particular has the biggest choice of brands in Switzerland, with an average of 12.4 brands available in each store. Finding your ideal watch in Switzerland can therefore also be a great way to see the sights of Switzerland!

Top retail locations for buying watches in Switzerland*

City Stores    BDS     Brands/store
Zurich 89 819 9.2
Geneva 97 677 7.0
Lucerne 49 499 10.2
Basel 29 343 11.8
Interlaken    24 297 12.4
Bern 27 254 9.4
Lausanne 29 192 6.6
Lugano 24 171 7.1
St. Gallen 17 154 9.1
Zermatt 20 113 5.7


*by BDS – Brand Density Score calculated by the Mercury Project.

For more information on the Mercury Project, contact Thierry Huron: thierry.huron@mercuryproject.ch.