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Affordable Swiss Watch Brands: 20 Watchmakers You Should Know

By Erik Rowe


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Switzerland has always been associated with fine watchmaking and exquisite craftsmanship, being the birth place of some of the most accurate and qualitative timepieces in the world.

But that usually means hefty price tags, with figures that soar way too high for most people to afford them, putting off most watch enthusiasts.

Fortunately, there are several Swiss watchmakers that offer good, quality timepieces for reasonable prices.

So there’s still hope for those looking for affordable Swiss watch brands.

While affordability is subjective in itself and depends on how high up the food chain one’s situated, we’ll go on and rate these Swiss watch brands from the less affordable to the most affordable.

Don’t expect a perfect list, but one to give you a general idea of where you can start looking depending on your budget.

And no, don’t even think about brands such as Breitling, Rolex, Patek Philippe or Omega. They’re far from being affordable by any standard.  

Here are our picks: 

20. Frédérique Constant

Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic COSC
Frederique Constant Highlife Automatic COSC

Newer than other Swiss watchmakers, Frédérique Constant strives to offer affordable luxury Swiss watches for more people to enjoy the exquisite Swiss craftsmanship.

What that means is the brand is making excellent timepieces for way less than your high end luxury Swiss brand.

While still quite expensive, they’re much more affordable than other brands such as the legendary Rolex.

Their pieces boast a timeless style with a classic and chic aesthetic that makes them perfect as dress watches.

As for prices, Frédérique Constant offers both pieces that go over $15k, and models that are priced under $1k, so everybody can find something to their liking that also fits their budget.

Frédérique Constant

19. Tag Heuer

TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition
TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition

Tag Heuer is probably the name that pops to everyone’s mind when thinking about sports watches, especially with an automobile race theme.

Sponsor of many sporting events all over the world, the brand has a broad range of timepieces, many far from being considered affordable, but also some decently priced.

Wonderfully blending functionality with luxury, Tag Heuer offers some of the most exquisite motorsport inspired chronographs in the industry, built to withstand daily abuse while looking stunning on every wrist.

Their entry level collection is a good fit for those with a slightly larger budget, but still keep on the affordable side when compared to other big names in the industry or their own high end chronographs.

Tag Heuer

18. Squale

Squale 1521 Militaire watch
Squale 1521 Militaire

Squale is not very well known, but it’s still a Swiss watchmaker that offers dive watches no less impressive than more established brands in the industry.

Their timepieces are as gorgeous as are powerful, and are true professional divers, with all the standard features these come with.

So you can expect the reliability other dive watches are known for and an entry level price.

You can’t go wrong for choosing a Squale diver as your next watch.


17. Longines

La Grande Classique de Longines
La Grande Classique de Longines

With a history going back all the way to the year 1832, Longines is one of the most well known Swiss watch brands and one that speaks luxury, elegance, and high end craftsmanship through all its models, even their most affordable.

And speaking of that, they’ve got very expensive watches, selling for thousands of dollars, but they also offer numerous entry level options with price tags around the $1k mark, and even some models that might seem like a bargain when you think of what they offer for the price.

In terms of style, they’ve got iconic and recognizable designs, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed.


16. Marathon

Marathon Pilot’s Navigator
Marathon Pilot’s Navigator

While not a luxury watch brand per se, Marathon is still one of the best Swiss watchmakers out there.

It has long been a supplier of military watches for the U.S. armed forces, so military watch enthusiasts will find this to be one of their top choices.

In terms of price, you’ll find a wide variety in Marathon’s lineup, depending on the movement inside.

Their digital watches are low priced, followed by quartz, but if you’re into mechanical movements, be prepared to pay a little bit more, though still on the affordable side.

Prices go from as low as several hundreds to over $1k, so you’ve got plenty of very affordable and robust choices.


15. Torgoen

Torgoen T16
Torgoen T16

A relatively new name in the industry, Torgoen is a brand that’s worth your attention.

It’s a U.S. based company, but their watches are made in Switzerland with Swiss only movements, so they’re what you’d call Swiss made.

Being founded in 2009 by two aviators, it’s obvious their style is heavily focused on aviator watches, with all the distinguishable features of a true pilot watch and impressive designs that makes them stand out from the crowd.

But what we’re interested here is their affordability, and we can tell they’re among the most affordable, with some of their models going even below the $150 mark.


14. Mondaine

Mondaine Evo2
Mondaine Evo2

Another name that’s slightly less known among the Swiss watch manufacturers, Mondaine is a family owned brand that has been around for more than 70 years.

Their watches are inspired by the Official Swiss Railways Clock, a design icon in Switzerland.

Most of the models are powered by a quartz movement, but they also have a range of mechanical movements, for a higher price, but still way more affordable than high end luxury brands.


13. Movado

Movado Alta Automatic
Movado Alta Automatic

Being founded in 1881, Movado is one of the oldest Swiss watchmakers and a go-to brand for affordable Swiss made watches.

While they started in Switzerland, in 1983 they were purchased by the North American Watch Corporation, and their headquarters today are located in New Jersey.

However, their watches continue to be manufactured in facilities in Switzerland, so they get to keep the Swiss-made label on their dials.

Their range of watches includes price tags of $1,000, but lower end models can also be found for a starting price of around $250.


12. Oris

Oris Aquis Depth Gauge
Oris Aquis Depth Gauge

Oris is one of the most popular Swiss watchmakers, and that’s mostly because it has remained an independent brand that kept itself away from the main Swiss watchmakers’ influences, coming up with original design ideas.

They may not rise as high as more expensive brands, but their lineup is sure noteworthy, providing excellent value for money.

Their watches are slightly more expensive than most other brands on this list, but the value and quality they offer is unmatched.

Inspired by motorsport, aviation, and marine fields, their watches are very sought after by enthusiasts from all over the world.


11. MIDO

MIDO Commander Gradient
MIDO Commander Gradient

A brand that lives under the Swatch Group umbrella today, MIDO offers gorgeous watches, oriented towards a more sporty nature, from diving to the automotive world.

They’re sponsors for big sports events all over the world, making themselves popular.

Their watches are sophisticated and refined, and come with timeless designs that need no flashy features to make themselves noticed.

With excellent craftsmanship that nears perfection, MIDO has managed to get themselves in top, offering luxury timepieces at very uncommon and affordable price tags.


10. Raymond Weil

Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph
Raymond Weil Freelancer Chronograph

Another relatively new Swiss watchmaker, Raymond Weil is a family owned business that began its activity right in the middle of the Quartz revolution which baffled a few well established brands.

Their perseverance though got them through and they continued to produced mechanical movements.

With pleasing aesthetics and a great attention to detail, their range of watches fall into the dress style category, suitable for people who prefer suits to anything else.

When it comes to affordability, Raymond Weil watches start around $300, and go as high as over the $2k mark.

Raymond Weil

9. Mathey-Tissot

Mathey-Tissot Homage TYPE XX Chronograph
Mathey-Tissot Homage TYPE XX Chronograph

Mathey-Tissot is a different brand and not at all related to the well known Tissot, and an old one too, despite not being as popular.

Its story begins in 1886 in a village in the Swiss Jura Mountains, the Less Ponts de Martel, founded by a local watchmaker, Edmond Mathey-Tissot.

While initially specializing in pocket watches, they were among the first to make a chronograph timepiece, which rose them to fame.

And when we say fame, we mean characters like Elvis Pressley were some of the brand’s more cherished admirers during their finest years.

Nowadays their popularity might have dropped a bit, but their quality hasn’t, providing excellent value for as less as $100, with their most expensive timepieces going up to several hundreds, and even around the $2,000 price tag for several select models.


8. Glycine

Glycine Airpilot Ref. GL 0440
Glycine Airpilot Ref. GL 0440

Glycine is one of the pioneering Swiss watchmakers for pilot watches, a company that has been in the industry since 1914.

It was once a very well known brand, but after the quartz revolution, it’s more in the shadow of bigger brands with more aggressive marketing campaigns.

But they offer excellent value for decent prices, from low to mid budgets.

Since its inception, their watches have been manufactured with high quality standards in the Swiss city of Bienne, where their factory is located.

Recently, the Swiss brand was acquired by the American Invicta Group, but they still keep their style and manufacturing process.

Prices however, have gone lower, making Glycine watches even more affordable. Most of their range spins around the $300 to $500 range.


7. Wenger

Wenger Avenue
Wenger Avenue

Some of you may know Wenger as a Swiss army knife and travel gear manufacturer, and that’s because it was only in 1988 that they started manufacturing watches.

In 2005, they were acquired by Victorinox, which proved to be a fruitful move, growing the brand even more.

Contrary to what some might expect, their style is very different, with timepieces being far apart from Victorinox when it comes to design and aesthetics, with a more casual and elegant look.

Some say that Wenger is the budget version of Victorinox when it comes to watches, and that’s true regarding their prices, since they range somewhere between the $50 to $300 range, but with their style being so different, you can’t compare their collections.


6. Certina

Certina DS+ Powermatic 80
Certina DS+ Powermatic 80

Much like Tag Heuer, Certina are known for their motorsports inspired timepieces, with one important distinction, price. Certina offers very affordable watches, but without skimping on quality.

They’ve been in the watch market industry since 1888, so they’ve got a lot of heritage behind.

It’s also part of The Swatch Group since 1983, and partner with various other names for sports events all over the world.

Their excellent craftsmanship combined with a price range of $100 to $500 makes them very relevant for every budget watch enthusiast.


5. Hamilton

Hamilton Jazzmaster Skeleton Auto
Hamilton Jazzmaster Skeleton Auto

Hamilton doesn’t sound at all Swiss, and that’s for a good reason. They’re American in their origins, with their roots going back to 1892 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

What makes them Swiss though is that they got under the Swatch Group umbrella, and now manufacture their watches in Switzerland, using Swiss made movements.

With models such as the Jazzmaster or the already legendary Khaki Field, they’ve become extremely well known, partnering a lot with movie stars and the Aviation industry.

Their watch collection is very impressive, with prices spanning from $300 to around $2,000, offering plenty of value and quality for the money.


4. Alpina

Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic
Alpina Alpiner Extreme Automatic

Older than Certina with a few years, Alpina is another Swiss watchmaker with a rich heritage. They’re making outdoor oriented timepieces, rugged, durable, and able to brave the elements.

Think water resistance, anti-magnetic properties, shock proof cases, but without throwing away style.

A preferred brand of airmen, sailors, military personnel, and adventurers of all kinds, among which the mountaineers, or alpinists, from which the brand drew inspiration for its name.

Depending on the movement and the style, with choices varying from divers, pilot watches and chronographs to dress watches, prices vary a lot, starting as low as $200 – $250 and going up to the $3k mark.


3. Tissot

Tissot Gentleman
Tissot Gentleman

One of the oldest and most reputable Swiss watchmakers, Tissot, offers a wide range of timepieces with excellent quality and craftsmanship.

The brand was founded back in 1853, and is now part of The Swatch Group.

Their watches have a distinguished style, with both high end pieces for those with a more generous budget, rising up to $2,000, and also a wide range of affordable models that are high quality and reliable as well, fitting in the $100 to $500 price spectrum.


2. Victorinox

Victorinox I.N.O.X. Titanium
Victorinox I.N.O.X. Titanium

Like Wegner above, Victorinox is famous for their Swiss army knives, but they also got into the watchmaking business, and today they offer solid timepieces for affordable prices.

Their I.N.O.X. range is particularly interesting, offering rugged watches able to withstand some of the harshest conditions.

After manufacturing, they go trough no less than 130 tests, ensuring they’ll resist anything you can throw at them.

It’s no wonder why they’re preferred by folks who activate in physically demanding fields such as the military, law enforcement, EMTs, or firefighters.

Prices range from less than $50 to around $1,000 for higher end models.


1. Swatch

Swatch Big Bold Bioceramic
Swatch Big Bold Bioceramic

Probably the most affordable of the Swiss watch manufacturers, Swatch is a younger company, but one that was born out of the need to create affordable Swiss watches during the quartz revolution in the 1970s and 1980s.

This is why their models range in prices from $50 up to $200, rarely rising above.

On the other hand, style is very diverse, from dress watches with elegant aesthetics to some of the most wacky color combinations and fun graphics.

While their designs may not be for everyone, their prices surely are a good fit for most pockets.


Final Thoughts

Raymond Weil Freelancer GMT

From some of the oldest and most respectable Swiss watchmakers to the younger and cheaper brands, there’s quite a lot of options to choose from, with models suitable for all kinds of budgets.

Swatch is probably the best choice if you care for only the lowest prices, but if you still want an affordable watch with a rich tradition behind, we’d go for entry level models from the likes of Oris or Hamilton.

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About Erik Rowe

Erik has always been fascinated with all things horological, from affordable diving and sports watches to high-end timekeeping wonders. He's a real watch enthusiast whose love and passion for watches extended into collecting, writing and even working on watches. Learn more about WYCA's Editorial Process.

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