Most luxury watch brands originate from Switzerland, so you might think that buying a watch in Switzerland would be cheaper, but is that actually true?
You can save about 2% on taxes when buying a watch in Switzerland, meaning it will be cheaper, but by a tiny margin. Luxury watch prices tend to be the same regardless of the country you’re in.
However, it is not a given that a watch will be cheaper in Switzerland. In fact, in most scenarios, they’ll be priced similarly to the prices in your country. We’ll elaborate further on this in this article!
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Why Would A Watch In Switzerland By Cheaper
It isn’t actually a weird thought that a watch would be cheaper in Switzerland. After all, a large number of watch brands are from Switzerland. This includes brands such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, TAG Heuer, and many, many more.
These brands are all known for their luxurious yet expensive watches. The thought of a slightly lower price is always enticing with these brands.
But why would the price be lower here? Well, that’s because the brands are located here. This means that the watches don’t need to be shipped, which means there won’t be any customs that need to be paid.
And generally speaking, the country of origin is usually where the product is the most affordable. But when it comes to watches, that’s not always the case.
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Why Luxury Watch Prices Are Similar In Every Country
The watchmakers always determine the price of a watch. Because most Swiss watch brands are luxurious and sell high-end watches, the watchmakers have tight and strict control over the price.
In fact, you’ll often find that the price of a watch will be pretty much the same everywhere, regardless of what country you’re in.
And because most Swiss watches are luxury items, you also won’t see any discounts. Watchmakers actually forbid their retailers from discounting their watches.
The price that’s determined will stay there. Your only hopes are a price reduction issued by the watchmaker, but they can just as easily increase the price as well.
Due to these strict rules, you’ll find that the price of a particular watch will be pretty similar in most countries. Of course, there will be some slight price differences, but generally speaking, they’ll be very similar.
The Effect Of Different Currencies
One factor that can be beneficial when purchasing a watch in a different country is the currency differences.
This, however, will often not be the case for Switzerland. Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. The Swiss make, on average, much more than most other countries, including the United States. Higher wages will often drive up the retail price of any product, including watches.
On top of that, the Swiss have their own currency, which is often quite expensive and unfavorable for pretty much any country. All this combined makes for a generally tougher time to find a great deal.
Keep in mind, though, that currency differences can work in your favor in other countries. For Europeans, the US Dollar used to be fairly cheap.
Other Factors That Keep Watches From Being Cheaper In Switzerland
As we said before, the watchmakers determine the price of the watch, and this decision is based on a few factors. These factors typically also tell us why watches aren’t necessarily cheaper in Switzerland.
Supply And Demand
This is a classic factor in any pricing-related issue. It’s relatively simple; with high demands, you can expect a higher price. With lower demands, you can expect a lower price.
This also works the other way around; If there’s too much supply, chances are the price will drop a bit. If the supply is low, chances are the price will rise a bit.
The demand for luxury watches has always been pretty consistent across most countries. Added to that is the fact that luxury watchmakers typically only produce watches on demand, so there’s never really a case of too much supply (which could lead to a lower price).
Sometimes, though, there can be a higher supply. With the launch of a new watch, for example, the watchmakers can decide to make a number of watches before they’re actually ordered. But this goes hand in hand with the launch of a new product, and new products are usually pretty set in their price.
In general, the demand for luxurious timepieces is always near exactly met by the supply. This is a fact across pretty much all countries, hence why the watch price in most countries stays relatively similar.
VAT, or Value Added Tax, is always added to the price of a product. And because VAT differs from country to country, you can find some price differences here.
The VAT for a watch in Switzerland is 7.7%, which means that 7.7% of the price is added on top of the original price. The VAT will, of course, be paid for by you.
However, when you compare this 7.7% VAT to the 10% found in the United States, it’s actually quite reasonable. It can even be in the low 20% in other European countries!
Luckily, there is something in place where you can ask back the paid VAT if you’re not from Switzerland. You’ll need a receipt and tax-free form from the store where you buy your watch. With this, you can claim a tax refund.
This would essentially be a spot where you can save a good chunk of money!
Lastly, there’s also something called a customs duty. This is a form of tax put in place to defend the local economy. It’s a tax on products from other countries, making it more appealing to purchase the same products from your own country.
If we look at the United States, you’re allowed to bring back $800 worth of items without having to pay customs duty. Anything above $800 will be taxed around 3-5%.
With a $2500 watch, you’ll have to pay 3-5% over $1700, which comes down to $51 to $85 in customs. So when you’re calculating whether or not your watch will be cheaper when bought in Switzerland, take your customs duty into account!
If we take the $2500 watch as an example again, you’ll need to pay $51 to $85 in customs duty, but you can save $192 in VAT. So yes, a watch in Switzerland can be cheaper by about $100, but keep in mind that you’ll still need to travel to Switzerland to get this discount.
Buying A Watch In Switzerland; Yes Or No?
This ultimately comes down to you. In general, you won’t save all that much money buying a watch in Switzerland, but it becomes exponentially more attractive the higher the price of your timepiece is.
On a $2500 watch, you can save around $100, but on a $100.000 watch, you can save $2000.
Typically, though, the price will be fairly similar across most countries, including Switzerland.
You should also take into account that if you want to buy a watch in Switzerland, you have to go to Switzerland first. This adds even more costs to your total, as you’ll need to book a flight, book a hotel, and might even have to rent a car.
Overall, it almost seems like too much of a hassle to go to another country just to maybe get a slightly lower price. However, it can’t be denied that buying a Swiss luxury watch in Switzerland itself will add to the overall experience.
Generally, I’d recommend just to buy the watch in your own country. It will ultimately come down to a very similar price, but you don’t have to go to another country.
If you’re already planning a holiday in Switzerland, by all means, go for it. As I said, it definitely adds to the overall experience, even if the price won’t be much lower.