Mechanical movements

Most watches have mechanical movements made largely by hand. These movements can require hundreds of hours of labor, and can only be made by watchmakers with many years of experience. The more complicated a mechanical watch is, the more functions it has, the more you will have to pay for it.

Material Plating

Some watches are plated with, or made entirely of precious metal: gold, or even platinum. These metals cost much more than plastic, stainless steel, or base metal. Furthermore, the gold used in Swiss watches is finer than that used in most jewelry sold in the US (18k vs. 14k) so the cost is even higher than you think. The cost is even more if the watch bracelet, as well as the case, is made of precious metal.

Water resistance

Water resistance also adds to the cost of a watch. Making a watch watertight requires gaskets perfectly fitted to keep out water and, often, a special type of crown that screws down into the case so water can’t seep in. The higher the level of water resistance (100m, 200m or whatever) the lower the manufacturing tolerance and the more expensive the case.

Limited Edition

Most Swiss companies have short production runs because they make watches for a narrower market than the firms in the orient. This allows them to provide more exclusive designs to customers, but also drives up manufacturing costs.

Material of Crystal

Just about all watch parts are available in a range of qualities. A watch made with a synthetic sapphire crystal, which is very difficult to scratch and highly durable will cost more than one with a plastic or a glass crystal.


Swiss watches in general have more unusual and complex case designs than less expensive watches. This means they are constructed of more parts, requiring a wider variety of dies to produce them and a more time consuming assembly process.


Other features also affect a watch’s price. A smoothly finished, supple link bracelet will cost more than a roughly finished one. A double safety buckle on the band will add to the cost too.