A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums

Every year for the past several years, I’ve had the privilege of visiting Basel, Switzerland during the BaselWorld watch show. Walking the halls, eating the sausages outside under the giant dome amongst thousands of sharply dressed people, drinking cocktails that cost 27CHF a piece, and just basking in the luxury and prestige of it all. This year all of that was cancelled, and for reasons other than COVID, it seems like BaselWorld as we knew it is now, sadly a thing of the past. 

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
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Of course, most years we didn’t actually stay in Basel, but rather in smaller towns within an hour drive of the city. The hotels and AirBNBs in Basel, Switzerland book up over a year in advance, and the prices are hiked incredibly high for any spaces that still remain open. The great thing about Switzerland--ahem, ONE of the many great things about Switzerland is that it’s a small country where you can drive literally everywhere. In one day you can explore Switzerland in the car from top to bottom or left to right, and still have plenty of time to stop for croissants and fondue.

In addition to relatively easy driving, the Swiss have the best railway system in the world and it’s a quick, fast and efficient train ride from Geneva or Zurich to just about anywhere else you want to go. However, do not be late because unlike some other cities in Europe, Swiss trains do not play. If your train is scheduled to leave at 11:07, you better believe the train will be moving the second the Swiss clock strikes 11:07.

watch museums
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As you’re driving or riding the train through Switzerland, you’ll notice many incredible watch museums and watch-related buildings along the way. You’ll also of course pass the headquarters for Rolex, Patek, Omega, Panerai, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, and many other iconic Swiss watch brands. Most of these can be seen right from the road, near the Swiss cities of La Chaux-de-Fonds and Biel/Bienne. 

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
Image Courtesy of Watches HQ

Hopefully soon the world will open back up and travel will be allowed and safe again. If you’ve been cooped up and longing for adventure, put these watch museums on your travel list. 

While we are sad that BaselWorld is no longer, it doesn’t mean you can’t quench your thirst for all things horology. These museums are a great way to get your horology fix on your next trip to Switzerland.

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums

7 Great Watch Museums in Switzerland--From Zurich to Geneva

Sure BaselWorld is a thing in the past, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t get your Swiss watch fix while visiting Switzerland--either next year when things are safe again, or right now virtually through the blog. I want to take you on a quick “tour” of some Swiss Watch Museums, starting north near Zurich, and heading southwest toward Geneva. 

IWC Museum (Schaffhausen, Switzerland)

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
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If you fly into Zurich, you’ll want to put this museum first on your list because it’s about a 39 minute drive north of Zurich, where everything else on the list is south. There are also trains that leave Zurich every 30 minutes to Schaffhausen, but the train ride is a bit longer, around 53 minutes. 

The IWC Museum in Schaffhausen is the first and only watch manufacturer in this part of Northern Switzerland. According to Time and Watches The factory was built in a place “where it was easy to recruit low-wage experienced watchmakers, not far from a railway and, very important, by a river in order to use hydraulic power for operating a generator and supplying electrical power to workshops and machinery.” This makes Schaffhausen, the small town in northern Switzerland an ideal location.

In this museum you can see over 230 items that show the journey of IWC through history. 

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
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Important Museum Information

Hours: from the site: The IWC museum is closed due to the latest development of COVID-19 until January 5, 2021. Our priority is to protect the health and safety of our employees, clients and guests. We are looking forward to welcoming you to our museum and presenting you the wonderful world of IWC soon

Admission Price: adults CHF 6, reduced admission: CHF 3, Guided Tour CHF 100

Address: Baumgartenstrasse 15, Schaffhausen 8200 Switzerland

Website: https://www.iwc.com/us/en/company/museum.html

For an additional great read with details on this museum click here.

Omega Museum (Bienne, Switzerland)

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
Image Courtesy of Omega

If you’re travelling south from Zurich, the next stop on your list will be Bienne, as it’s about an hour drive south of Zurich. When driving in Switzerland you might see signs that say Biel/Bienne but know that they are both the same town. Because in Switzerland, residents speak both French and German in this region, one name is the French pronunciation and one is the German, but rest assured they are the same town. Around this area you can also see (from the road) the Rolex Factory, Omega, and a lot of other Swatch Group buildings. 

When you enter the Omega Museum in Biel/Bienne, you’ll first walk across “the world”—a large world map on the floor embedded with digital screens featuring the current times at locations across the globe.

According to National Jeweler, “Before moving on, guests take a trip back in time with Omega’s ‘History of Time’ immersive, 360-degree video that tracks the path of humankind’s journey to precision, from the first clocks to modern movements.”

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
Image Courtesy of National Jeweler

There’s also a very cool tribute paying homage to Omega’s history with NASA and a special area dedicated to James Bond 007.

Important Museum Information

Hours: Tues-Friday 11:00-18:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-17:00

Admission Price: CHF 10

Address: Nicolas-G. -Hayek-Strasse 2 La Cité du Temps, Biel 2502 Switzerland

Website: https://www.omegawatches.com/stories/omegas-new-museum


For an additional great read with more details on this museum click here.

The Musée International D’Horlogerie (MIH) In La-Chaux-De-Fonds 

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums

La Chaux-de-Fonds is a small town about 30-40 minutes drive from Biel/Bienne. Here you can visit the Musee International D’Horlogerie (MIH). When driving to this location, you will also pass through the small town of Le Locle where you can drive past the factories of Cartier, Audemars Piguet, and Patek to name a few. 

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
 Le bâtiment actuel de Cartier à La Chaux-de-Fonds. [Christian Beutler - Keystone]

The MIH opened in 1974 and is considered the world’s largest clock museum. One fascinating thing about the museum is that it is housed in an impressive concrete building, realized almost entirely underground, and surrounded by a park.

According to the website, the permanent collection of the museum is composed of clocks and precision machines, and is considered one of the most important in the world and includes rare pieces dating from the 18th century onward.

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
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Important Museum Information

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10-5

Admission Price: Adults CHF 15.-

Children over 12 years and young people under 16 years CHF 7.50

Reduced tariffs, Students with card till 25 years old CHF 12.50

Families CHF 30.- (Parents and children under 16 years)

From October to March, the museum is delighted to offer free admission every Sunday from 10 am to midday.

Pro Tip: This museum is free with the Neuchatel Tourist Card. If you stay in the canton of Neuchatel (which I highly recommend), all hotels and airbnbs will provide this card to you. It offers free local public transportation and also free access to museums and exhibits.

Address: Rue des Musées 29, 2301 La Chaux-de-Fonds

Website: https://www.chaux-de-fonds.ch/musees/mih


A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
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visits the MIH

In addition to beautiful timepieces like seen above, the MIH also serves as a home for luxury watch brands such as BreitlingGirard-PerregauxOmega, and Tissot.

Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle, Château des Monts – 

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch MuseumsImage courtesy of museums.ch

Not far from the MIH, you’ll find a smaller museum in a breathtaking building located in Le Locle, a small town very close to Biel/Bienne and La Chaux-de-Fonds that has been opened since 1959. Here you can find automata and time-pieces from the Maurice Sandoz donation, Neuchâtel and grandfather clocks, clocks and mechanisms which show the technical progress and creativity of their designers, as well as some 3D films.

During winter, the museum is only open in the afternoon, so make sure to check out the website first. http://www.mhl-monts.ch/. However, at this moment, all of the links on information such as admission prices, hours, etc. are broken. This makes me wonder if perhaps it is temporarily shut down due to COVID-19. Keep checking the site on this one.

L.U.Ceum — Traces of Time (Fleurier, Switzerland)

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
Image Courtesy of FHH

Fleuier Switzerland is also in the canton of Neuchatel so it’s not very far away from the MIH. By car, it’s about a thirty minute drive.  According to the FHH, this museum is located in the Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier, Switzerland.  “The L.U.CEUM invites visitors to follow the traces of time. An inventive museography highlights masterpieces of watchmaking from different periods and regions of Europe. Retracing five centuries of history, the collection is divided in themes, including Chopard L.U.C watches.”

At this museum you can see Breguet pocket watches, a Louis Ulysse Chopard pocket watch from 1860, and 18th and 19th century oil lamp clocks and sandglass clocks.

Important Museum Information

Hours:  By Appointment Only

Admission Price: not disclosed

Address: rue des Moulins 20, 2114 Fleurier, Suisse

Website: www.hautehorlogerie.org/en/encyclopaedia/watchmaking-museums/s/luceum-traces-of-time/

For an additional great read with more details on this museum click here.

The Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
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Number 6 on our list is truly and exceptionally beautiful in its design aesthetic and it is the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet Museum in Le Brassus, Switzerland. The Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet is located among the historical complex of workshops and factories in the heart of La Vallée de Joux, which is a town on the way from Biel as you head toward Geneva. The museum just opened this year in 2020 and they are offering small guided tours, Monday-Friday at either 2:00 or 3:00pm. You need to make reservations online to secure your spot, and tours that cost CHF20 are in both French and English.

According to the FFH: The museum’s collection, which showcases some 300 timepieces, is displayed alongside two in-situ production workshops, creating a living museum. With a design that marries tradition and innovation, the Musée Atelier Audemars Piguet offers visitors a unique opportunity to delve into the history of watchmaking in the Vallée de Joux and explore how the brand’s timepieces, crafted in Le Brassus, have been raised around the world.

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
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A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
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Important Museum Information

Hours: Monday-Friday 2:00 and 3:00 (however, timeslots do fill up, so secure your spot in advance).

Admission Price: CHF 20 per person

Address: Route de France 22B, 1348 Le Chenit, Switzerland

Website: https://www.museeatelier-audemarspiguet.com/en/home.html

For the booking site click here.

For an additional great read with more details on this museum click here.

The Patek Philippe Museum In Geneva

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums
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Last on our list for today is the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, Switzerland which opened in 2001. The museum is located in a beautiful historical building close to Plainpalais. The Patek Philippe museum consists of 4 floors, with the bottom floor being a small cinema in which you can watch a Patek film. 

According to the official museum website, the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva is considered by many to be one of the world's foremost horology museums. It houses over five centuries of watchmaking history into two important collections: the extraordinary antique collection starting from the 16th century, which includes the earliest watch ever made and the Patek Philippe collection from 1839 onwards. The latter bears testament to more than 175 years of manufacturing the world's finest watches and includes the most complicated timepiece ever made, the Caliber 89.

Important Museum Information

Hours: Tuesday to Friday 14h00 - 18h00, Guided Tours on Saturdays at 2:00 (French) and 2:30 (English).

Admission Price: Adults: CHF 10.00, Senior, disabled, unemployed, students aged 18-25: CHF 7.00, Groups >= 10: CHF 5.00, Children < 18: Free

Address: Rue des Vieux-Grenadiers 7, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland.

Website: https://www.patek.com/en/company/patek-philippe-museum

A Traveler’s Guide Through 7 Swiss Watch Museums

Hopefully we can all travel soon and you will be able to visit some of these amazing watch museums. If not, at least we got to see them virtually today

All of us at Everest are total watch enthusiasts. We have been to several of these museums ourselves and some we still have on our future bucket lists. Every year some of the Everest staff spend the entire summer in the city of Neuchatel working on new designs and meeting with our manufacturers to create the best custom watch straps for Rolex, Tudor, and Panerai owners and watch accessories for every other watch owner. If you have any questions about Everest or Swiss travel in general, feel free to leave a comment and we will help you out.

Which one of these museums is the highest priority on your list? Let us know in the comments!

Header Image Source @cityarchmoscow Instagram

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