Switzerland has a legacy of watch and clock making expertise stretching back to the reforms made by Jean Calvin in 1541 which prevented the people of Switzerland from wearing jewels. By way of compensation, Swiss watchmakers began to make ever more complex and beautiful clocks and pocket watches, later designing the first wrist watches. Even to this day and in spite of a tumultuous time during the seventies, when the future of the Swiss watchmaking industry looked uncertain, the country continues to produce and distribute some of the finest luxury timepieces to customers from all over the world.
One notable Swiss brand is Baume and Mercier. Founded in 1830 in Switzerland, the company makes around 200,000 watches annually and is one of Switzerland’s longest standing watchmaking companies, itself a country renowned for its accuracy and style in terms of clock and watchmaking. Baume and Mercier watches tend to be sporty in appearance, and show a dedication to precision and excellence, two points which were emphasised one of the Baume and Mercier timepieces in the collection won the 1893 timing competition at the Kew-Teddington Observatory with a score of 91.9 out of a possible one hundred. The brand earned a reputation for being associated with glamorous living, with lines such as Hampton and Riviera being introduced, named after popular US resorts for the wealthy and famous.
Another Swiss brand name is Raymond Weil, whose innovative designs and high quality manufacturing set them apart in the watchmaking industry –indeed, the company motto is “independence is a state of mind”, and the company have certainly been able to display this, from their continual improvement of the watch mechanisms to the use of new and unusual materials in watchmaking such as plastic. Founded in 1976 in the Swiss town of Geneva, Raymond Weil is one of the last remaining independent brands of the Swiss luxury watchmaking brand. The company is a kind of phoenix of the industry, created just at the time when it appeared to be in trouble. Nonetheless, it survives to this day, continuing to make beautiful watches with an emphasis on comfort and elegance. The brand has often been associated with the arts and cultural events; in 1999 the company launched the Raymond Weil Celebrate the Moment campaign to highlight this. The company is now well established throughout the world and is a fine brand of watch to choose from for those who are looking for a combination of Swiss-made technological innovation, high design and traditional elegance.
Another notable company is Tissot. Founded in 1853, the company was the first to make the mass produced pocket watch and in 1929-30 also introduced the first anti-magnetic watch to the market. Tissot quickly gained a reputation for innovation, producing the first watches to be made out of plastic, stone and wood. In recent years, “T-Touch” technology has been incorporated into Tissot watches, using touch-sensitive sapphire glass in many of the models along with many other high tech features.