Five Affordable Swiss Watches with In-House Movements

When shopping for a fine timepiece, people often seek particular attributes, and two of the most popular are “Swiss made” and “In-house movement.” Here are five watches that meet these criteria, and that you can acquire without breaking the bank.

Alpina proudly counts itself among the small group of Swiss watch manufacturers that develops and produces its own calibers. Within this elite circle, the Startimer Pilot Manufacture offers outstanding value. This 44 mm watch lets you enjoy classic good looks, automatic winding and a useful pointer date at 6 o’clock, all powered by the Alpina AL-710 caliber. The suggested retail price for the stainless steel model on a leather strap is a mere $2,595.

alpina startimer
Alpina’s Startimer Pilot Manufacture offers excellent value and good looks.

If you seek something a bit dressier, Alpina’s sister company, Frédérique, Constant offers the elegant Slimline Manufacture Moonphase. This 42-mm watch features the Frédérique Constant automatic winding caliber FC-705 with 26 jewels and a 42 power reserve. The stainless steel model on a strap lists for $3,695.

Frédérique Constant's Slimline Manufacture Moonphase
Frédérique Constant’s Slimline Manufacture Moonphase combines classic aesthetics with an in-house movement.

JeanRichard, the sister brand of Girard-Perregaux, also joined the manufacture club recently. The sporty-yet-dressy 1681 Ronde Small Seconds is attractive and versatile. This 41-mm watch features the automatic winding caliber JR1050 with small seconds at 6 o’clock and a date display at 3 o’clock. The JeanRichard 1681 Ronde Small Seconds is priced at $5,300.

jeanrichard 1681 rondo

JeanRichard’s 1681 Rondo Small Seconds offers versatile looks and in-house movement.

Some may be surprise to see a Rolex in this group. The watch is the new 36-mm Oyster Perpetual, and it is powered by the Rolex self-winding caliber 3130. This is the only movement in our group that is a COSC-certified chronometer. The movement features other high-end Rolex components, including a free-sprung balance and the patented blue Parachrom balance spring, all protected by the famous Rolex Oyster case. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is priced at $5,400.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual
The Oyster Perpetual offers many important Rolex features at an appealing price.

Our final affordable Swiss watch is produced by Zenith, a brand with a proud history as a manufacture. We’ve selected the Captain Elite Central Seconds, a dress watch with a sporty flair that makes it a great all-around timepiece. This 40-mm watch features Zenith’s in-house Elite 670 caliber with automatic winding and a date display at 6 o’clock. This movement runs at 28,800 vph in 27 jewels with a 50 hour power reserve. The Captain Elite Central Seconds is priced from $5,600.

zenith captain elite
Zenith’s Captain Elite Central Seconds combines go-everywhere looks and a manufacture movement.


This article was originally published on September 25, 2014, and has been updated.



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  1. Maya Patel

    “Affordable” doesn´t match the idea of wristwatch collecting, in my oppinion. Anyway, luxury wristwatch collectors have only been in existence for about 20 years, but the business is booming. Today, big-time celebrities have some of the most impressive collections in the world. And these people can afford to pay $500.000, yes. Maya @

  2. The Christopher Ward is Swiss made, as are all their watches. Just not pricey enough for WatchTime. $3-6k is not in the affordable range for many! How about the Swatch with 51 parts, in-house auto? $150.

  3. precisionswisstime

    I agree with the watchtime magazine the top shelf its top 10 watches from the Switzerland for my personal favorite the one I like it’s the JLC master zenith elite

  4. Where is Christopher Ward? Their SH 21 has rocked the world of watchmaking, it is in-house and it is suprisingly affordable – and it is very good. It is also a shame not to list it.

  5. Robert Spence

    some of the up-and-coming micro brands have very nice watches, with excellent components for under $1,000. However, I am not aware of any high end watch brands for under $1,000 which also have their own in-house movements.

  6. why not “update” this article with Christopher Ward? It’s almost as though that non-advertising brand is ignored, when they may well be the new big thing in watches. Their new SH21 movement is impressive.

  7. What is your definition of affordable when the least expensive watch
    in this listing is in the $3,000 range? I like reading these articles, very
    informative but the affordable definition needs to change based on
    your readers.

    • It’s all relative. However, this publication is primarily for time piece collectors/enthusiasts. As such, most readers can afford time pieces in the $5,000 – $500,000 range. Therefore, when you read an article titled “In-House Movement” you are talking about a more expensive watch relative to an asseblemed watch a third party movement. Just because you may not see this as affordable, others will see these as a less expensive alternative to say a Patek Phillipe or any one of a number of watch brands with complicated time pieces in the hundreds of thousands dollar price range. It’s all relative!

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