Geneva's 14 Most Prestigious Watchmakers

Walking along Geneva’s lakefront at night, you might think the canon of Geneva watch brands are represented in the lighted signs atop the buildings along the shore. But while the multiplicity of brands remind you that you are in the capital city of watchmaking, the top of the pyramid is occupied by just two of them. Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin are the two most historic and vaunted brands in Geneva, and, ironically, they are also the two most accessible. Serious watch collectors can gain access to just about any factory, provided they spend enough and have been vetted, but anyone can get a full and rich taste of Geneva watchmaking simply by visiting the Patek Philippe Museum or Vacheron Constantin’s Maison. These venues allow you to experience the techniques and culture that pervade every company in the industry more profoundly than anywhere else—reason all watch collectors should make the pilgrimage to Geneva at least once before they die.

For the better part of a century, anyone wanting to visit Vacheron Constantin at its Geneva home would be directed to the boutique located in the company’s historic headquarters. The brand has...
Patek Philippe is hardly the most approachable company in Switzerland. Its reputation as the consummate traditional watchmaker goes hand-in-hand with its status as the most primly Calvinist of any...
Piaget may be the one Geneva watch company whose ties to the city’s watchmaking traditions run too deep for its own good. The Piaget name has become so associated with high jewelry and watches...
"We are not as boring as you think," says Chopard co-president Caroline Gruosi Scheufele, who designs and oversees production of the company’s jewelry and jewelry watches. Geneva may be the capital...
The jeweler Harry Winston once said that if he could, he would set diamonds directly onto a woman’s skin. It isn’t surprising then that when Harry Winston introduced its first timepieces in 1989, the...
"My philosophy, as a jeweler and as a watchmaker, is always to try to do things that have not been done before," says de Grisogono founder Fawaz Gruosi. Not only is this true in the technical sense—...
One can hardly blame François-Paul Journe for exhibiting a subtle look of self-satisfaction. In an industry that fairly worships the watchmaking geniuses of the past—like Abraham-Louis Breguet—Journe...
By dropping two timepieces from the top of the Eiffel Tower in 1956, Wyler Genève demonstrated a commitment to durability that even a skydiver could admire. The watches still worked following their...
"I love the magic of dials, as they are the face of the watch," explains Thierry Oulevay, who in just three years has established Jean Dunand as a boutique watchmaker with the professed specialty of...
Jérôme de Witt’s admiration for Abraham-Louis Breguet is rather personal. De Witt’s great-great-great-granduncle Napoléon was one of Breguet’s best customers, and as the last descendant in his family...
Horology stretches back five generations in Jean-François Ruchonnet’s family, but the young watchmaker approaches the trade from a thoroughly modern, technological angle. Computer-generated imagery,...
"For centuries, the rare artistry of the watch world has been dedicated to men’s watches," says Cristina Thévenaz, CEO of DeLaneau, as she points out sketches in her weathered notebook. "I wanted to...
Venture into the lakefront boutique of Antoine Preziuso in downtown Geneva, and you will have stumbled upon one of the Swiss watch industry’s open secrets. Preziuso doesn’t have the celebrity of...
Considering he speaks no French, you would hardly consider Franc Vila to be a likely candidate to build a new Geneva watch brand successfully. But after just a few minutes of conversation with the...