Best Swiss Watches For Men to Wear

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Written by Ryan Miller

One of the first signs of civilization is the perception of the passage of time. And Swiss watches are at the pinnacle of human ingenuity and craftsmanship.

There is no doubt to anyone’s mind that Switzerland is the site for many of the world’s best watchmakers. It’s not just marketing: it’s the perfect marriage of precise engineering, artistic craftsmanship, and years of heritage.

All of these combined make for a timeless, universal work of art and science small enough to carry with you, wherever you go.

So in case you’re wondering which timepieces in the region are the best, we compiled a list for you to find out which of these timepieces for men are the perfect fit.

Best Overall

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse

Best Value

Rolex GMT-Master II

Rolex GMT-Master II

Best Budget

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch

Omega Speedmaster

TL;DR: The Best Swiss Watches For Men

  1. Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse
  2. Rolex GMT-Master II
  3. Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch
  4. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver
  5. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic
  6. Vacheron Constantin Overseas
  7. Tag Heuer Monaco
  8. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
  9. Zenith Pilot Type 20
  10. Bell & Ross BR V2-93 GMT

1. Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse

Best Overall

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse

Even non-aficionados can appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry in a Patek Philippe, and it’s no different from the Golden Ellipse.

Inspired by the divine, golden ratio, its unusual shape is as daring as it is pleasing to the eye. With the index and the clock hands, this dress watch’s simple elegance also pairs easily with weekend wear.

As Patek’s second-oldest timepiece, it’s their best-kept secret. Its exquisite movement likewise shows the craft of Patek watches, and it is for this reason why it takes the top spot on this list.

With its deep sapphire hues and sunburst dial, the Golden Ellipse is a modern take on a 1970s classic. By stripping back all the bells and whistles it could hide its flaws in, Patek left only sheer perfection.

Pros

  • Sleek and thin, it goes well with any outfit
  • Unique, non-circular shape is a breath of fresh air
  • Improved rate accuracy thanks to the Gyromax balance

Specifications

  • Movement: Automatic, Patek Calibre 240, 21,600 VPH (3 Hz.) frequency
  • Case: 18k Rose Gold, 34.5 x 39.5mm, 5.9mm height
  • Model/Reference: 5738P-001

2. Rolex GMT-Master II

Best Value

Rolex GMT-Master II

Rolex straddles the line between mainstream appeal and horological acclaim by making classic, timeless designs with technical innovations under the hood (or the case, so to speak).

The GMT-Master II is the reboot of the well-loved GMT-Master. It is an enduring symbol of the cosmopolitan lifestyle, playing a silent role on the wrists of the world’s most influential.

And while its sportier looks and bold numbers appeal to the more casual, there’s no one timepiece like it. It fits on any wrist and suits any occasion, though the bulky case might get in the way of your cuffs.

It is because of Rolex’s simultaneous ubiquity and luxury that it is a valuable investment. It will pay itself off more than twice over with care and time. It truly is one of the best value watches to own.

Pros

  • Tells time in two different time zones
  • Up to 70 hours of power reserve
  • Very comfortable to wear

Specifications

  • Movement: Automatic, Calibre 3285, 28,800 VPH (4 Hz.) frequency
  • Chronograph: Integrated, COSC-Certified Superlative Chronometer
  • Case: Steel, 40mm diameter
  • Crystal: Sapphire
  • Model/Reference: Batman Jubilee, 126710BLNR

3. Speedmaster Moonwatch by Omega

Best Budget

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch

Quality and craftsmanship aside, Omega has one claim that other watch brands cannot make: its Speedmaster went to the moon.

The moon isn’t the only time the storied Speedmaster made headlines. As the Official Timekeeper of the Olympics since 1932, Omega’s commemorative watches of recent years are Speedmasters.

And how could it not be? Its manual-winding chronograph movement is Switzerland’s precision exemplified. It’s no wonder that Omegas feature in time-sensitive and demanding historic events.

The Speedmaster’s craftsmanship is not in its movement alone. With an all-black ensemble, save for the complementary steel case, the Speedmaster is every bit as refined as it is reliable.

Pros

  • Style is suitable for a night out but durable for sports
  • Clean, even if not minimalist
  • Affordable for the quality

Specifications

  • Movement: Manual, Omega Calibre 1861, 21,600 VPH (3 Hz.) oscillation
  • Chronograph: Integrated
  • Case: Steel, 42mm diameter
  • Crystal: Hesalite
  • Model/Reference: 311.33.42.30.01.001

4. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Self-Winding

Audemars Piquet ROYAL OAK SELFWINDING

AP ushered in the dawn of luxury sports watches with this quintessential classic. Designed only in one night, this timepiece had a slow but steady following.

Its playful design, with exposed screws and octagonal case reminiscent of a deep-sea diving helmet, may not seem luxurious to the uninitiated. But its avant-garde appeal fascinates its biggest fans.

Lest it is said that this wristwatch is merely a statement piece, its craftsmanship, and engineering beg to differ. The in-house Caliber 4302 self-winding movement reflects this watch’s artistic genius.

While a watch this quirky won’t fit black-tie, formal occasions, an AP has a place in social events. APs are flashy watches, but their flashiness doesn’t take away from their reliability.

Pros

  • Sleek and thin, it goes well with any outfit
  • Unique, non-circular shape is a breath of fresh air
  • 70-hour power reserve

Specifications

  • Movement: AP Caliber 4302, 28,800 (4 Hz.) frequency
  • Case: 18k Pink Gold, 41mm diameter, 10.4mm thickness
  • Crystal and Caseback: Glareproof sapphire
  • Reference/Model: 15500OR.OO.D002CR.01

5. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic

Jaeger Coultre REVERSO CLASSIC SMALL

As its name suggests, the Reverso’s case can reverse to protect itself. The storied history of the Reverso began in India, where British army officers smashed their watch crystals while playing polo.

To respond to these unfortunate incidents, JLC designed a rotating watch that spins its case back forward, so mallets will hit not fragile crystal, but stainless steel.

These days, watch crystals are durable enough to accommodate some force, so a rotating watch is more historical than functional. Nevertheless, the Reverso still has its place in anyone’s collection.

Its simple, classy looks suit any occasion. The discreet profile and small size are not cumbersome. While it isn’t as adventurous as an AP, its safer looks appeal to anyone looking for more versatility.

Pros

  • Makes a great first addition to a collection with its affordable price
  • Elegant looks are versatile in any social situation
  • Its size can fit both women and men’s wrists

Specifications

  • Movement: JLC Calibre 657, quartz, 43 components, 4 jewels
  • Case: Steel, 35.78x21mm dimensions, 7.4mm thickness
  • Crystal: Scratch-resistant sapphire
  • Reference/Model: 2618140

6. Vacheron Constantin Overseas

vacheron-constantin-overseas-dual-time-automatic-silver-dial-mens-watch-7900v-110a-b333--

Known more commonly for their dressier timepieces, Vacheron made waves with the 222, the Overseas’ predecessor, at the tail-end of the Quartz Crisis.

The Overseas takes plenty of design cues from the 222, with a case of roughly the same size and the same minimalist approach to its dial.

The Overseas is a testament to the lasting style and quality engineering of this 265-year watch brand; the oldest uninterrupted watchmaker in the world.

With its clean, crisp lines and simple design, a Vacheron Overseas can easily transition from a daytime utilitarian watch to a night-time affair.

Pros

  • 60-hour power reserve
  • Tells time in two different time zones
  • Can be worn anywhere

Specifications

  • Movement: Automatic, Caliber 5110 DT, 28,800 (4 Hz.) frequency
  • Case: Steel, 41mm diameter, 12.8mm thickness
  • Crystal: Anti-reflective sapphire
  • Reference/Model: 7900V/110A-B333

7. Tag Heuer Monaco

TAG Heuer Men's 'Monaco' Swiss

TAG Heuer is ever omnipresent in motorsports, from Formula One sponsorships to racing-themed movie features.

It is no surprise that the TAG Heuer Monaco, the world’s first automatic chronograph wristwatch, is as popular as ever among racing enthusiasts, even at 50 years old.

Monaco’s appeal isn’t as universal as other luxury brands, or even models from TAG Heuer’s own line. But what it lacks in minimalistic luxury sophistication, it makes up for in exceptional creativity.

The Monaco will turn heads, no doubt. And with its price tag, this one is a great introduction to the world of luxury watches for the uninitiated.

Pros

  • 40-hour power reserve
  • Accurate to 1/4 of a second
  • Fits well with casual wear
  • Affordable for a luxury watch

Specifications

  • Movement: Automatic, Calibre 11, 28,800 (4 Hz.) frequency
  • Chronograph: Dubois-Dépraz module, COSC-certified
  • Case: Steel, 39mm diameter
  • Crystal: Scratch-resistant sapphire
  • Model/Reference: CAW211P.FC6356

8. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

Blancpain isn’t just a watchmaker; it’s an institution. As the oldest watch company from Switzerland still in the industry, its resistance against quartz watchmaking is as stubborn as its lifespan.

Its rigid perspectives on quartz don’t reflect on the company’s ingenuity, though. The Fifty Fathoms, first launched in 1953, is what launched the diver watch revolution.

As it was designed for divers of the 1950s, the Fifty Fathoms of old featured an O-ring-sealed crown, readable numbers, luminescent hour markers, and lockable bezels.

The same design language and attention find their way to the 21st century. No questions for its 300m water resistance, but even the vintage yet simple numbers and hour markers stand the test of time.

Pros

  • Universally appealing sporty looks
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Functional as a diving tool
  • 120-hour power reserve is one of the best we’ve seen

Specifications

  • Movement: Automatic, Blancpain Caliber 1315, 28,800 (4 Hz.) frequency
  • Case: Titanium, 45mm diameter, 15mm thickness
  • Crystal: Sapphire
  • Model/Reference: 5015-12B40-O52A

9. Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up

Zenith Pilot Type 20

Though an unpopular brand name in the United States, Zenith is a watchmaker with a rich history, full of triumphs and pitfalls. All of it began when it modeled watches after cockpit instruments.

“Type 20” is one such instrument: the Type 20 montre d’aéronef (“aircraft clock”) formed the backbone of the aesthetics of pilot watches we know today.

Today’s Type 20 has every feature you would expect from a pilot watch: simple, readable numbers, a black face, Arabic numerals. And its 2,333 chronometry awards are a testament to Zenith’s engineering.

Yet just when you think that this watch is too utilitarian for luxury wear, its sleek edges and simplicity can blend in for more formal occasions (especially if you choose the black Ton Up version).

Pros

  • Can double as a dress watch for black-tie occasions
  • Readable numbers
  • Affordable for the quality and heritage

Specifications

  • Movement: Automatic, Caliber Elite 126, 28,800 (4 Hz.) frequency
  • Case: Black aged steel, 45mm diameter
  • Crystal: Sapphire
  • Model/Reference: 11.2432.679/21.C900

10. Bell & Ross BR V2-93 GMT

Bell & Ross BR V2-93 GMT

Bell and Ross is a relative newcomer to Switzerland’s watchmaking world, and the newest one in this list, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t made its mark on the industry.

Though it is a French brand, it manufactures its movements and encases its watches in Switzerland. It would not be inaccurate to say that this watch is, too, made in Switzerland.

The BR V2 is an understated traveler’s watch with one bright orange GMT hand. It doesn’t stand out on its own, but its everyman appeal is precisely why you might want to add it to your collections.

Pros

  • A great everyman’s watch
  • Tells time in two different time zones
  • Affordable for a watch made in Switzerland

Specifications

  • Movement: Automatic, BR-CAL.303 (base, ETA Caliber 2893-2; outsourced), 28,800 (4 Hz.) frequency
  • Case: Steel, 42mm diameter
  • Crystal: Sapphire
  • Model/Reference: BRV123-BL-GMT/SRB

Buyer’s Guide

Movement

Looking at the movement is essential because it’s one way watches made in Switzerland stand out. Swiss watchmaking is most popular for extraordinary precision and attention to detail.

Mechanical

Mechanical movements use mechanisms made of mechanical parts, like gears and springs, to run. More laborious and thus expensive to make, mechanical watches have become a symbol of craftsmanship, engineering, and design.

There are two sub-types in this category of movements. Both manual and automatic watches run mechanically.

Manual timepieces are hand-wound and must be wound daily to ensure optimal movement. Automatic watches, or self-winding watches, wind themselves while worn.

Precision is key for mechanical timepieces. These kinds of movements cannot just be mass-produced by factories, or else it compromises the accuracy of these watches.

Quartz

Quartz movements first took off in Japan, and it threatened Switzerland’s watchmakers so much that they called it the “Quartz Crisis” [R].

Ironically, though, one of the world’s first Quartz movements were made in Switzerland [R]. It just never took off in Switzerland, until after the Quartz Crisis.

Quartz watches are battery-powered timepieces that work by supplying an electrical current from the battery to the quartz crystal. The crystal causes the vibrations in the watch, which drive the motor [R].

In-House vs. Outsourced

Whether you are considering a mechanical or an automatic timepiece, one of your primary considerations should be whether the manufacturer produces its movements in-house.

Most fine and heritage watchmakers from Switzerland produce their movements in-house. Only a few companies outsource movements for their watches, most often to Swatch subsidiary ETA.

Outsourced movements, say ETA movements, don’t make for bad watches. In fact, many ETA movements are engineering feats themselves, especially when COSC-certified.

Plenty of popular fine watch manufacturers outsource some models to watch movement manufacturers, like JLC.

Your choice of whether you will allow yourself to purchase a watch with an outsourced movement will depend on your purpose for buying a watch.

If you’re a horologist who would much prefer to collect luxury watches, then a name-brand with an ETA-outsourced movement might not be your best option.

Regardless of your choice, you will have to ensure that you’re purchasing Swiss watches with movements made in Switzerland.

Watch Type

Dress

Dress watches, meant to complement formal attire, are simple, sleek, and sophisticated.

Minimalist styles are popular with these kinds of watches; hardly will you see a dress watch with thick cases and large, colorful bezels.

There’s a functional reason for that: a watch with a thicker case can’t easily slip in and out of shirt cuffs and sleeves.

But if you feel like deviating from the pack, there’s nothing wrong with wearing another watch style to the occasion—though you might get a few stares and judgments from the eyes of more discerning men.

Dive

Dive watches, most known for their ability to stay water-resistant at levels of 100m or more, are known for more than their ability to withstand deep ocean levels.

Most dive watches are made of titanium or steel and have one unique defining characteristic: a unidirectional bezel that warns a diver of the bottom time (time spent underwater) and oxygen level.

You could nitpick on the virtues and follies of wearing a dive watch to a business meeting or on a night out.

But save for the likely clumsy combination of a thick bezel and a dress shirt, there’s little wrong with wearing a dive watch on a night out. Especially not if it’s something like a Submariner.

Field

Field watches are remnants of the World War era after military men found pocket watches too cumbersome to take out on the field. Field watches are designed to be discreet, rugged, and simple to use.

A field timepiece is usually smaller than sports timepieces tend to be, making them light and comfortable on the wrist.

You could comfortably wear a field watch with casual wear and business wear, though you might want to gauge your surroundings to see if the watch fits.

Pilot

A pilot watch is, like a field watch, small and utilitarian. It might be hard to tell a pilot watch from a field one at times, but pilots tend to have chronographs or GMT time, and other useful functions.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of reasons to choose watches made in Switzerland. From quality craftsmanship to timeless design, you won’t regret wearing these timepieces on your wrist.

But manufacturers use the “made in Switzerland” label as a deceptive marketing scheme. That’s why we only included the cream of the crop in this list to help you choose.

Recommendation:

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse

★★★★★

Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse

FAQs

What’s the Best Swiss Timepiece?

If you had the resources, we think that the Patek Golden Ellipse is the best timepiece to buy from our list. Though the Golden Ellipse isn’t as popular as the Nautilus, it still is just as valuable and well-made.

In 1996, Patek ran an ad campaign that says it all: You never actually own a Patek Philippe.

With the quality craftsmanship and timeless design of a Patek, it certainly will be valuable for the next generation. If you had to get only one, then the Patek is the best pick.

Which Swiss Watch Should I Buy?

You should buy Swiss watches that match your lifestyle or suits your collection. If you like watches because you appreciate artistry and design, then opt for well-crafted luxury timepieces.

If you’re a utilitarian, or you prefer using a timepiece for its various functions, then a more affordable, yet nonetheless well-made, watch from Switzerland will not fail you.

What’s a Swiss Watch?

Watches from Switzerland can only be called “Swiss Made” if it follows very strict criteria under Swiss law.

To have that grand distinction, a timepiece’s movement must be made in Switzerland, encased in Switzerland, mostly manufactured in Switzerland (60% of costs), and undergo final inspection in Switzerland [R].

Don’t confuse this with Swiss movement watch, which is a marketing term used by manufacturers who put Swiss movement in watches but outsource their cases to China [R].

The nefarious practice is certainly the bane of Switzerland’s watchmaking industry, but fortunately, the law stepped in to aid both artisans and buyers of the things to look for.

Any timepiece that meets those standards would be a good buy. A useful paper from the Foundation de la Haute Horlogerie can also help you to see which makers truly engineer fine products.