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Watchmaking, luxury goods, cosmetics and fragrances

A tradition of excellence

As the Swiss birthplace of watchmaking, cosmetics and other luxury goods, the Greater Geneva Bern area provides excellent competitiveness and efficiency to companies in these sectors throughout the production process.  As a result of its traditional know-how, its penchant for innovation and the presence of a significant number of SMEs, the region has expertise in research, cutting-edge technologies, sophisticated supply chain mechanisms and a highly-qualified workforce.

“Swiss Made”, a quality label par excellence

In the international business world, it is essential to have a strong reputation for your brand.  The “Swiss Made” label symbolizes quality, reliability, innovation and precision.
It is a critical attribute for customers and justifies the highest price for a product.

A concentration of watchmaking know-how

Numerous prestigious watchmaking brands were born in the Greater Geneva Bern area: Breguet, Hublot, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Ulysse Nardin, Jaeger LeCoultre, TAG Heuer, Audemars Piguet as well as the world’s two most famous brands, Rolex and Omega.  The watchmaking sector in the region has achieved many “firsts”: the production of the first wristwatch, the first quartz watch, the first water-resistant watch, the thinnest wristwatch, the smallest and most expensive watches.
Of 59,000 employees in the watchmaking industry in Switzerland, 44,000 work in Western Switzerland.  The three principal centers are Neuchâtel (15,000 employees) Bern (12,000 employees) and Geneva (10,000 employees.)  Due to the extensive know-how found throughout the region, companies have access to unrivalled skills in precision engineering and design.

A stronghold of luxury

With eleven Swiss companies included in Deloitte’s ranking of the world’s 100 largest luxury goods companies, two of which appear in the top 10 – Richemont in 2nd place and the Swatch Group in 5th, Switzerland is clearly a leader in this sector.
The biggest players in luxury goods are present in the Greater Geneva Bern area, including Bulgari, Ralph Lauren, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Cartier.  These global giants chose to set up operations in the region to take advantage of the industry know-how at their disposal to develop and produce their luxury products.

An ideal location for an R&D-dependent industry

Since the 19th century, the city of Geneva has been home to the headquarters of the two principal companies in the fragrance and flavor sector, Givaudan and Firmenich.  Firmenich also has its Food and Flavor Expertise Center in Geneva, a state-of-the-art laboratory conducting applied research, product development, sensory analysis and marketing.  With their presence in the region, these two companies have easy access to their principal customers –
multinational companies producing cosmetics, household and cleaning products, pharmaceuticals and the food and beverage industry.  The proximity to major players such as Procter & Gamble, Elizabeth Arden, Shiseido and Coty allows them to develop close business ties and contributes to the development of business clusters – a common characteristic across the key industries in the region.

Key figures from the watchmaking, luxury goods, cosmetics and fragrance industries

  • 657 watchmaking companies
  • 59,112 employees in the watchmaking industry
  • 11 companies in the world ranking of the 100 largest luxury goods companies

Sources: Convention patronale de l’industrie horlogère suisse (2014), Global Powers of Luxury Goods (2016)

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