Why is Geneva the Center of the Luxury Watch World?

While there are certainly other nations like Germany, Japan, England, and even the US that have their own watchmaking centers, today Switzerland is still the country most associated with fine watchmaking. And similarly, although watchmaking is spread out across little villages in the tiny nation (in fact, my family is from the watchmaking village of St. Imier, home to Longines and other watch brands) the city of Geneva lays claim to being the heart of the Swiss watch industry. But why is Geneva the center of the luxury watch world today? Let’s find out.

 

A Brief History of Swiss Watchmaking

Paradoxical as it may seem, the origins of luxury watchmaking in Switzerland was in fact partly due to austerity measures of the Protestant Reformation. John Calvin spearheaded the movement in Switzerland and in 1541 he banned the wearing, selling, and making of jewelry in Geneva, deeming it too frivolous and opulent. As a result, the jewelers of the city were left with no viable trade. Around the same time, French Protestants, the Huguenots, fled to Geneva to escape persecution in France from the Catholic majority. With the migration, the French refugees brought along their creative skills and watchmaking know-how to the Swiss city. Thankfully, John Calvin did allow for the production of watches in Geneva as he deemed them as practical instruments and not flashy objects of wealth like jewelry.

Therefore, the out-of-work Swiss jewelers and the newly arrived French watchmakers shared their knowledge and savoir-faire, which laid the groundwork for Geneva to establish itself as a burgeoning European watchmaking city. Over the course of the next few centuries, the industry spread from the city to the rural areas of Switzerland because these areas offered a willing labor pool. Farmers had plenty of free time in the winter and consequently many of them were hired by Genevan watch companies to build watch components.

While Switzerland as a nation has been continuously committed to the watchmaking industry, this is not to say that it has been an easy path. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Quartz Crisis threatened to topple the entire mechanical timepiece market with the advent of cheap quartz-powered timepieces from Asia. Only the strongest watch brands survived and the early 1990s saw a phenomenal comeback of the mechanical luxury watch, which continued to boom until only just recently. Today, it’s no secret that the smartwatch category presents yet another threat to the luxury watch market. Just how Switzerland will tackle this challenge remains to be seen.

 

Geneva is Home to Leading Luxury Watch Brand HQs and Top Horology Events

Although many Swiss watch brand manufactures are scattered throughout the country—Audemars Piguet in Le Brassus, Omega in Biel/Bienne, Breitling in Grenchen, and IWC in Schaffhausen—Geneva is still home to the headquarters and production facilities of the two titans of Swiss watchmaking; Rolex and Patek Philippe.

Rolex HQ in Geneva (Image: Rolex)

Along with manufacturing, Geneva is the best city in the world to shop for a luxury watch. Take a stroll down Rue du Rhône and surrounding streets in Geneva and you’ll be met with the most incredible watch boutiques from just about all the prestigious watch brands from Switzerland and beyond. Plus, the renowned Patek Philippe museum is of course also in Geneva.

Basel may host the largest watch and jewelry fair in the industry, but Geneva is not far behind with the annual Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève (SIHH) event taking place every January. Top brands such as Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Richard Mille, and others are there to showcase their novelties for the year.

GPHG is the most prestigious awards ceremony in the watch industry (Image: GPHG)

Geneva is also where the annual Grand Prix D’Horlogerie de Genève event takes place—the most prestigious awards in watchmaking today.

Moreover, it’s not just new watches that come to Geneva. This picturesque city by the lake is also where the world’s best auction houses hold high-profile auction events a few times a year, selling rare, vintage, and extraordinary watches to keen international collectors.

 

What is the Geneva Seal?

 Based on the official full coat of arms of Geneva, the presence of the Geneva Seal (Poinçon de Genève in French) in watch movements certifies that the movement was indeed made in the City or Canton of Geneva. There is also a set of strict quality regulations to pass before a watch can be engraved with the seal.

The Geneva Seal on a Vacheron Constantin watch (Image: Vacheron Constantin)

Perhaps the most famous watch house to proudly feature the Geneva Seal on most of their timepieces is Vacheron Constantin. Patek Philippe also used the Geneva Seal up until 2009, when the famous manufacture implemented its own “Patek Philippe Seal” process.

 

As you can see, Switzerland, and in particular Geneva, has cultivated a culture that emphasizes the importance of fine watchmaking. From watchmaking schools to state-of-the-art production facilities to corporate offices to lavish boutiques to glamorous events, Geneva has rightfully earned its place as the center of the watch world.

Mother’s Day Gift Guide: 5 Luxury Watches Perfect for Mom

May is here, which means Mother’s Day is not far away. This year, Mother’s Day will be on Sunday, May 13, 2018, and if you haven’t found the perfect gift yet, fear not, we are here to help! If you want to make this Mother’s Day really special, then it’s time to treat mom to an exceptional gift—a luxury watch. But don’t worry; since we sell topnotch pre-owned luxury watches in fantastic condition, you’ll save plenty of money while still giving a gift that matters.

Plus, we even offer simple payment plans to make buying that special Mother’s Day gift even easier. Here are five of our favorite women’s fine timepieces that will make mom squeal with joy when she unwraps her gift. After all, she raised you, so she definitely deserves it.

 

Omega Constellation Watch for Mother’s Day

Show mom what a star she is by gifting her a classic Omega Constellation ladies’ timepiece. Not only does this watch flaunt the unmistakable Constellation silhouette with the Roman numeral bezel on the case and integrated bracelet, but it’s also crafted in both stainless steel and 18k yellow gold. This means mom can wear it every day without having to worry about matching it to her jewelry or other accessories since it’ll go with almost anything.

Mother's Day Gift Omega Constellation Watch

 

What’s more, mom will be in good company with the likes of Cindy Crawford and Nicole Kidman also wearing Omega watches.

 

Cartier Panthere Watch for Mother’s Day

You know who loves Cartier watches? Almost everybody! Royalty like Kate Middleton and soon-to-be royal Meghan Markle wear their Cartier watches daily, and former first ladies Michelle Obama and Jackie Kennedy-Onassis wore theirs all the time during their husbands’ presidencies. Hollywood actresses like Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katie Holmes, and Catherine Zeta-Jones wear Cartier watches too.

Mother's Day Gift Cartier Panthere Watch

So you really can’t go wrong with giving mom a stunning Cartier Panthere for Mother’s Day. Also combining steel and yellow gold, this chic Cartier watch, with its distinct brick-lay bracelet and square bezel, is an absolute classic in the brand’s lineup.

 

Chopard Happy Sport Watch for Mother’s Day

What’s better than a luxury watch for Mother’s Day? A luxury watch with diamonds! Bring mom some fantastic sparkle with this gorgeous Chopard Happy Sport watch with five floating diamonds dancing on the dial.

Mother's Day Gift Chopard Happy Sport Diamond Watch

While the diamonds on the dial give a little extra shine, the watch itself is made from understated stainless steel, which makes this a great daily watch. The curvy link bracelet is both lovely to look at and comfortable to wear and the blue cabochon-cut sapphires on the winding crown and lugs of the watch add a beautiful touch.

 

Baume & Mercier Van Cleef & Arpels Watch for Mother’s Day  

If mom is into vintage, then don’t miss this charming vintage beauty that channels a decidedly Audrey Hepburn vibe. This Baume & Mercier Van Cleef & Arpels timepiece dons a sophisticated rectangular case plated in 18k yellow gold that houses a crisp while dial dotted with traditional Roman numerals.

Mother's Day Gift Baume & Mercier Van Cleef Arpels

Paired with an elegant black strap, this little number is as sophisticated today as it was when it made its debut in the 1960s. Like wine, a fine watch gets better with age.

 

Rolex Lady-Datejust President Watch for Mother’s Day 

What does the queen of the family deserve on Mother’s Day? The luxury watch nicknamed the President of course! Other queens that wear a Rolex President include Jennifer Lopez, Olivia Palermo, Jenifer Aniston, and the late Grace Kelly.

Mother's Day Gift Gold Rolex Datejust President

This sumptuous Rolex Lady-Datejust is crafted entirely in 18k yellow gold and is fitted with the semi-circular link bracelet dubbed the President band. And the lavishness doesn’t stop there—there are also ten gleaming diamond hour markers on the champagne dial to remind mom of how brilliant she is.

 

You have less than two weeks to find that perfect gift for mom, so don’t delay and browse our stunning selection of high-end watches for ladies. We’ll even deliver it straight to mom’s doorstep with free shipping along with a complimentary one-year warranty.

The best part of giving mom a luxury watch this Mother’s Day? Every time she looks at her new timepiece, she’ll be thankful that she raised such a thoughtful and generous child.