Is It Cheaper To Buy Luxury Watches In Switzerland?

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Switzerland is home to some of the biggest watch brands, creating beautiful timepieces, but are luxury watches generally cheaper in Switzerland? Find out everything you need to know here.

Green and gold rolex watch
©Andrea Astesiano |

Many of the top luxury watch brands, including Rolex, Tag Heuer, Patek Philippe, and the oldest watch manufacturer in the world, Vacheron Constantin, manufacture their watches in Switzerland, making use of the state-of-the-art facilities and the country’s long history as a watchmaker.

If you have your eye on a premium luxury watch, there is a very high chance that the timepiece has been made in Switzerland. With this said, are luxury watches actually cheaper to purchase in Switzerland?

In this article, we are going to answer the question to make sure you can get the best price for your new stunning watch. We will give you all the essential details you need to know and some of the best watches you should have on your wishlist!

Are luxury watches cheaper in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, yes, many watch designs are slightly cheaper in Switzerland for a whole range of reasons, no matter where in the world you are from, making it a great place to pick up a stylish new timepiece!

However, it is worth noting that depending on the brand and watch style, the price difference may not be worth booking a trip to Switzerland just to get a slightly better deal; the more expensive the watch, the more reason there is to go. With this said, we are going to look at the reasons why watches tend to be cheaper in Switzerland, as well as compare some models so that you can get a better idea of how much you can save.

Why Watches Tend To Be Cheaper In Switzerland

1. Lack Of Customs, Taxes, and Transportation Costs

While many luxury brands try to have a global pricing system where goods will cost roughly the same no matter where you buy them, they are often slightly cheaper in the luxury brand’s home economy.

First and foremost this is due to less costs in the form of import taxes and customs. Many watch brands pride themselves on being manufactured in Switzerland, and in their home economy, no such charges will be applied.

Conversely, if you are buying a watch in the United States, then the cost to transport this watch to the US will be added to the price of the watch, often leading to a higher price. The same goes for customs charges; if the brand is shipping a watch from Switzerland to the UK, America, or Australia, for example, the brand will have to pay an import tax and customs duty, which they will often be passed on to the consumer in the final price.

However, if you buy the watch in Switzerland, these charges often don’t apply.

2. The VAT Refund system

VAT, also known as value-added tax, is a type of sales tax that is included in the final product price across many countries in the world. If you are a tourist, i.e. you reside out of Switzerland, you’re eligible to receive a tax-free price; according to, this is between 3.8%-6% off.

If you are shopping in Switzerland, you would have to spend over 300 Swiss Francs (CHF) in one store in order to receive this refund. As mentioned, the refund rate is between 3.8%-6% off depending on the purchase price – just great! This rate is actually one of the lowest in Europe, with most VAT refund rates above 10%, but it will make a difference to any luxury purchase you make.

However, there are certain things you have to do to be eligible for this refund and a process to get your money back.

How to Get Your VAT tax refund

Firstly, you cannot be a permanent resident of Switzerland, so if you are visiting from the United States, United Kingdom, or even France, Italy, or Germany, you will qualify for this sales tax refund. You also have to be over the age of 18 to receive this refund. You must also take the goods back out of the country within 30 days of the purchase, so this is a great option if you are in Switzerland on holiday for a week or two!

There is specific documentation you will also need to keep a hold of in order to get your sales tax back. When you are luxury shopping and are purchasing your new designer piece, you need to present your passport (or country-specific residency card) at the check-out and ask the staff for a Tax Refund form.

You will then need to fill in this Tax-Free form and present it to customs before you check in at the airport, alongside the original receipt. Usually, the staff will ask to take a look at your passport, the goods you purchased, and your valid flight ticket, so make sure to have these on hand when you arrive at the airport. The items you purchase need to be sealed and unused when you present them at customs.

These customs sites are well-signposted at airports, train stations, ports, and land borders, so no matter whether you are flying out of Switzerland or hopping on the train to another European country, you will be able to receive your refund.

You will then need to show your stamped Tax Free form at the nearby refund office and ask for an immediate refund in cash, or via your credit card if you prefer. This may take a little time, depending on how busy the customs desk is, so it is worth arriving at the airport or train station with plenty of time to make sure you can go through the whole process.

Keep This In Mind: Swiss Exchange rate

The Swiss currency is usually quite expensive and generally, the exchange rate is pretty unfavorable for most countries, so this is something you really need to consider and check out before buying anything in Switzerland. It is also worth noting that Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries since the Swiss have higher incomes, which means the price of goods is a little higher.

Price Comparison: How much you can save

For example, if you buy an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Quartz 28mm in the United States will cost you $3,375. If you buy this same watch in Switzerland, it will cost you 3,100 CHF; roughly 5% of 3,100 is 155 CHF – this means the total cost of this watch in Switzerland is 2,945 CHF.

If you then convert 2,945 CHF to USD, it comes to $3,303, which is actually only $72 cheaper than the United States price.

However, if you are traveling to Switzerland from an EU country, your trip will make more sense; the same watch will cost you €3,600 in Italy and France, which is 3,513 CHF – in this case, you’ll be saving 568 CHF or €582.

As you can see, luxury watches are a little cheaper in Switzerland depending on where you are visiting from, but generally speaking, this saving is only really worth it if you already have a holiday planned in Switzerland. We always recommend checking the exact price of the watch that you are interested in buying on te brand’s website – depending on where you are visiting from, you could save a big amount.

Luxury watches to have on your wishlist

Here are some best watches from the top luxury brands that really deserve a place in your collection and are some great pieces to pick up if you are in Switzerland!

1. Patek Philippe
Black and gold Patek Philippe 18K Yellow Gold Alligator 26mm Calatrava Manual Winding Watch
Browse Patek Philippe Watches on Fashionphile
Silver Patek Philippe 18K White Gold 25mm Calatrava Manual Winding Watch
Browse Patek Philippe Watches on Fashionphile

Patek Philippe is one of the most luxurious watch brands, with a wide range of utterly beautiful watches – like the Calatrava Manual Winding Watch, as exemplified by the two different editions pictured above.

The Gold and Alligator 26mm Calatrava Manual Winding Watch has a timeless look with the stunning black alligator leather watch strap and 18 karat yellow gold frame around the face. The white face with black hands and time markers really stands out, while the anti-reflective sapphire crystal cover over the face makes it always easy to see the time clearly.

This Patek Philippe 18K White Gold 25mm Calatrava Manual Winding Watch has a dainty, slim silhouette and intricate look, made up of lots of small chain links, each crafted 18 karat white gold.

The round face features a sapphire crystal covering, white dial, black hands, and black Roman numeral time markers for a slight vintage finishing touch. The manual winding function means the watch will be lighter-weight and you won’t have to replace a watch battery!

2. Rolex
Black and silver Rolex Stainless Steel 40mm Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date Watch
Browse Rolex Watches on Fashionphile
Silver and gold Rolex Stainless Steel 18K Yellow Gold Diamond 26mm Oyster Perpetual Datejust Watch
Browse Rolex Watches on Fashionphile

There are so many gorgeous Rolex watches to choose from, including this striking Rolex Stainless Steel Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date Watch.

This classic Rolex Submariner is crafted from stainless steel with an oyster link bracelet and a black uni-directional bezel. The black dial features white time markers and white hands, with a small date window – just perfect! This watch has an automatic Swiss movement for that high-quality Rolex finish.

If you are looking for something a little more dainty and delicate, then this Rolex Stainless Steel 18K Yellow Gold Diamond 26mm Oyster Perpetual Datejust Watch is just perfect for you!

We love the stainless steel band, with 18 karat yellow gold links running through the center giving this watch an eye-catching and glamorous look. The face is highly decorated with a fluted yellow gold bezel, champagne-tone dial, and diamond hour marker to add a little more sparkle to this watch.

3. Audemars Piguet
Silver Audemars Piguet Stainless Steel 33mm Royal Oak Quartz Watch
Browse Audemars Piguet Watches on Fashionphile
Gold Audemars Piguet 18K Yellow Gold Diamond 30mm Royal Oak Quartz Watch
Browse Audemars Piguet Watches on Fashionphile

This Stainless Steel 33mm Royal Oak Quartz Watch from Audemars Piguet has a sophisticated and stylish look, while still making a statement on your wrist. These wide watches are so fashionable at the moment, meaning this watch really is a must-have in your collection.

The stainless steel is neutral enough to suit a wide range of outfits, perfectly finished with a pristine white face and black Roman numeral time markers for a retro touch. This watch is available for just $13,945 and is a great investment piece.

The Audemars Piguet 18K Yellow Gold Diamond 30mm Royal Oak Quartz Watch is a great option if you love wearing gold jewelry. The beautiful, timeless design ensures this watch has an effortlessly elegant look that will add a touch of glamour to any outfit.

This watch is crafted from 18 karat yellow gold, with a slim, chain link design and raised octagonal bevel. The dial is also gold and then decorated with sparkling diamond time markers and gold hands, covered with a sapphire crystal face. This incredible watch retails for $15,995 from Fashionphile.

We hope you found this article answering the question, are luxury watches cheaper in Switzerland, helpful! For more luxury fashion content, check out the links below.

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