What Is the Watch Industry?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The watch industry is a collection of companies involved in the manufacture, repair, and sale of watches. Some of the most famous leaders in the industry come from Switzerland and Germany, although Japan and China are also very active in the watch industry. Numerous trade and professional organizations represent the industry and engage in activities like public relations outreach, legislative lobbying, and the development of new standards in watch production and sales.

A watch.
A watch.

Companies within this industry are extremely diverse. Some focus on specialty products like watches for divers, aviators, scientists, athletes, and other people who may need extremely accurate timekeeping. These watches may also have additional features to assist their users, like timers, multi-zone settings, and other options. They can be expensive because of their special nature and represent a niche market within the industry.

Some of the most famous leaders in the watch industry come from Switzerland.
Some of the most famous leaders in the watch industry come from Switzerland.

Others produce primarily luxury watches. These include timepieces that can be worn as jewelry as well as watches with high precision and elegant designs. Some of these companies have been in the watch industry for a century or more, and their brands are often very well known among consumers. On the other end, some companies produce large numbers of inexpensive timepieces designed to appeal to consumers at lower price points. These products may not be as reliable or as meticulously designed, but they can be affordable for consumers.

One of the concerns of the worldwide watch industry is counterfeiting. Name brand watches tend to be extremely expensive, and counterfeiters in some regions of the world produce their own versions for sale to consumers. These versions are much cheaper and typically are not produced to the same quality standards. Numerous representative organizations have anti-counterfeiting task forces and work with governments and regional law enforcement to identify and crack down on counterfeiting activity.

Employment in the watch industry can be very diverse. Some companies need highly trained technicians who can design, build, and repair watches. Marketing and public relations professionals are also needed, as are designers with good aesthetics to work on new product lines. Depending on the kind of work people are most interested in, it may help to have a college education, while in other cases the best way to enter the industry may be to start work as an apprentice or low-ranking employee. Skilled watchmakers and repair people take on a limited number of students to pass on the tools and techniques of the trade.

Luxury watches such as Rolex can be worn as a timepiece and as jewelry.
Luxury watches such as Rolex can be worn as a timepiece and as jewelry.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I don't know how long Swiss watches have been around, but I have always known them to be exceptional watches.

When watches were first made, they were only for the wealthy people. Not everyone had access to watches like we do today.

My grandpa gave me a Swiss watch when I graduated from high school. That watch is the nicest watch I have ever owned, and it works just as good today as the day he gave it to me.

I also know that many years ago, many people became involved in the watch industry because the business was passed down from generation to generation.

This is something you don't hear much about anymore, and I wonder how someone becomes interested in this type of business if they weren't introduced by a family member.


I wonder if the global watch industry has declined much with the growing cell phone industry?

I used to wear a watch all the time, even when I was at home during the day. I am the type of person who always wants to know what time it is.

Now that the time is always displayed on my computer screen and I take my cell phone with me wherever I go, I no longer wear a watch.

I could see where this might make a difference in parts of the watch industry, but if you are in a specialized field such as stop watches or clocks, I don't think something like all the computers and cell phones would affect that as much.


@tigers88 - I have never owned a Rolex, so can't really say what makes them so expensive. In fact, I have never owned a watch that cost very much.

I see myself as a practical person, so don't mind spending the money on a new watch, but I always look for inexpensive watches for women.

Sometimes, it cost more to replace the battery in the watches I buy than it does to buy a new watch. That way if I lose my watch or misplace it, I know I am not out very much money to buy a new one.


Are Rolex watches really as nice as people say? I have seen them for sale in jewelry stores for like ten thousand dollars. That is a ton of money for something that tells time.

What makes them so expensive? I know that they are well made and that they keep excellent time, but it's not like it was covered in diamonds or anything.

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