Watchmaking

Frequently asked questions

A watch is Swiss made watch if:

  1. The technical development has taken place in Switzerland. In the case of exclusively mechanical watches, at least the mechanical construction and prototyping of the watch as a whole or, In the case of watches that are not exclusively mechanical, at least the mechanical construction and prototyping of the watch as a whole, together with the conception of the printed circuit or circuits, the display and the software;
  2. The movement is Swiss;
  3. The movement has been encased in Switzerland
  4. At least 60% of the manufacturing costs is generated in Switzerland

From the initial briefing to watch delivery it generally takes six to eleven months. Time to market for a completely new watch brand goes from one to one and a half year, if there is no new movement development. If the new watch also includes a new movement the development time becomes significantly longer, count from 2 years onwards.

The determinants of this decision are your target retail price, your brand message, your retail channel strategy and your margin objective. Generally speaking, it is difficult to sell a Swiss Made watch – making healthy margins – below 300 CHF if you use the full distribution chain (distributor – retailers). “Swiss Made” is the most valued property for a watch. It guarantees high quality and craftsmanship. Therefore, essentially, your choice will depend on the message of your brand, the price positioning you’re aiming for and how you intend to retail your watch (indirect or direct retail).

Typically, the minimum economically viable production series for a watch is 300-500 units depending on the target retail price. Because the MOQ for dials and straps is approximately 100 units, you can start a new brands with one model in 5 to 10 variations. Of course, any production run – even a single watch – is possible if you can cover the fixed costs and variable costs with the retail price.

Depending on the retail price you are aiming for, your watch can be powered by a mechanical, quartz or connected movement. A mechanical watch can be self-winding (automatic) or hand winding (manual). A quartz watch can be analogue (with hands) or digital (with a digital display) or “Ana-Digi” (hands plus a digital display). A quartz watch is powered by a battery, by light or by a rotor. A connected movement (also called a module) is powered by a battery and communicates with a mobile phone or other devices through Bluetooth technology. Movements can be Swiss or Asia made and prices can range from a few Swiss francs to thousands of Swiss francs.

Generally speaking, you will look at a quartz movement for synthetic material and stainless-steel watches if your target price lies between 15 to 650 CHF retail, and a mechanical movement if it lies above 650 CHF.

Especially in the retail price segment below 2.000 CHF, the choice of the right movement is very important. Its is an important cost factor affecting the retail price of a watch, as well as the gross margin of the seller.

Watch cases and bracelets are mostly made out of Synthetic Materials, Stainless Steel, Titanium, Ceramics, Gold (18K or less) and Platinum. Material innovation is important in the watch industry and therefore new alloys or hi-tech materials are used by brands to differentiate themselves from the competition. Customers appreciate the benefits of certain materials like f.ex. look, lightness, anti-allergic properties, robustness and scratch resistance. For aesthetic and pricing reasons combinations of materials are also used, like two-tone watches which combine a stainless-steel case with a golden bezel.

Yes, there are different ways to create a watch with a coloured case. Synthetic material cases can come in many colours. Alternatively, stainless steel and other metals can be coated with many colours through different coating techniques.

The impact of the material of the case is very significant if the watch uses precious or highly technological materials. Setting precious stones onto the material, of course, makes the watch even more expensive but also increases its intrinsic value.

In an analogue watch (mechanical or quartz), the functions which are most frequently integrated in a watch are the hours, minutes, seconds, date, moon phases and chronograph.

A smartwatch is a watch that used wireless technology to communicate with your smartphone. Smartwatches are designed to communicate with other connected devices (smart home objects or payment devices for example) through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology.

The time to market for a new smartwatch developed from scratch, depending on its complexity, starts at 18 months from the initial briefing. If the watch uses an existing technological platform and module, the time to market is 6 to 9 months.

The most frequent functionalities of analogue smart watches are fitness, sports, sleep and health applications. Also frequent are notifications, alarms ad time zones. For digital smart watches powered by Android or Apple operating systems, the number of functionalities and apps is very large ranging from work-out, sports, communication, news, payment, music, reservations to picture apps. These third-party apps are increasing day by day. Smart watches are opening new business and revenue models which go over and beyond the standard purpose of a watch.

A complicated watch has one or more functions beyond the time; such a functionality is called a complication. Popular complications are the date, the chronograph, the moon phases and the second-time zone complications. Other more expensive complications include the Fly-back Chronograph, the Tourbillon, the Perpetual calendar and the Minute repeater. The more complications a mechanical watch includes, the more expensive it becomes.

Watch complications layer one above another in the construction of the movement and therefore the more complications a watch has, the thicker the watch becomes.

Developing a completely new watch movement is a very expensive and lengthy process. Typical development costs start at one million Swiss francs and time to market can take from 2 years upwards, depending on how complicated the conception of the movement is.

A chronograph is a watch with hands that display hours, minutes and seconds, together with a mechanism for measuring elapsed time by means of a central chronograph hand, which records seconds, and totalizers for the minutes and hours (not mandatory). A chronometer is a watch whose movement has obtained an official rate certificate from the COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute) after having passed precision tests in different positions and at different temperatures. These tests are conducted over a 15-day period.

Yes, after sales is very important from a technical, marketing and operational efficiency point of view. A customer expects his watch to function well, especially if it is Swiss made, and expects timely and experienced service both for regular services as well as for repairs. Having the correct organisation and workflow of the after sales service is a very important considerations for any serious watch brand to keep loyal customers and an efficient cost structure.