As any seasoned Zurich expert will tell you, the majority of the watches sold in the Switzerland’s largest city today are sadly manufactured abroad, primarily in China. Though most Migros watches, one of the better-known brands, are only Swiss in name, it is still possible to find strands of the Swiss watchmaking tradition in Zurich.
If you’re searching for gifts, the most quintessentially Swiss brand to look for is Swatch. Relatively affordable and invariably hip, these timepieces can easily be found around the city. Other modern brands to look out for are M-Watch, largely inspired by the original Migros watch, and Mondaine, famous for their railway clock face.
While the watch trade might be fairly commercialized, Zurich still upholds its rich traditions in clock and watchmaking. For the history buff, head over to the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum for a walk through Switzerland’s traditional and modern watchmakers. Do note that the museum is closed until October 2012, when it will reopen after undergoing renovations that are sure to be worth the wait. Until then, the Landesmuseum, Zurich’s national museum, is playing host to an exhibition focused on the work of A.L. Breuget, widely recognized as the world’s greatest watchmaker. This exhibit, which features everything from pocket watches to standing clocks, to measuring instruments, will sate the curiosity of horology fans until the Beyer Museum reopens.
In addition to the rich history of watchmaking in Zurich, there are still a few artisans that call the city home that have impressed the world with their watchmaking skills. If you’re looking for a more modern approach to watches and clocks, keep your eye out for the names Paul Gerber and Maurice de Mauriac and their respective workshops in particular.