Money. Chocolate. Watches: Leaders of the 2016 Best Swiss Brands

Why do banks, chocolate, and watches drive Switzerland’s success in the global market? In this year’s Best Swiss Brands report, these three industries represented over half of the rankings, but they’ve also been emblematic of Switzerland for centuries.

Why are Swiss banks, chocolates, and watches so consistently considered the best in the world, and how have they managed to stay that way in a dynamic and unpredictable global economy?

Why does the world trust their money with the Swiss?:

Swiss banks are legendary for their safety and discretion, which is a product of their illustrious history.

For over 300 years, Swiss bankers have catered to high-value clientele with exceptional service. Their first customers were the kings of France, who had plenty of money to save, but required confidentiality and security.

This also led to the first banking laws. In 1713, The Great Council of Geneva ruled that bankers had to keep their records secret, only unsealing them if the City Council decreed.

The world has changed since the 1700s, but by sticking to the same principles, banking brands have continued to deliver consistent financial results.

The Best Swiss Brands 2016 ranks nine banking brands amongst the top 50. They are:

#6 UBS
#9 Credit Suisse
#12 Kantonalbank
#16 Julius bar
#18 Pictet
#20 Vontobel
#27 Raiffeisen
#30 PostFinance
#35 Lombard Odier

What makes Swiss chocolate so sweet?

Chocolate has long been enjoyed in countries around the globe, but when it comes to which nation makes the best, the field has always been narrow.

Switzerland and Belgium are the two nations that have become famous worldwide for their chocolate since they began exporting the confections in the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Swiss were the first to add cocoa butter to their chocolate, a method which gave it a much smoother and more delectable texture. The Belgians invented the praline, chocolate truffle, and other exotic fillings.

There are several differences between Swiss and Belgian chocolates. The beans for Belgian chocolate come mainly from Africa. The Swiss acquire theirs from both Africa and Latin America. Texture, storage, and use of milk are other distinctive features of these great chocolates.

Swiss brands are probably the best known to consumers all over the world, such as Nestlé, Lindt, Suchard, Teuscher, Halba, Sprüngli, and Toblerone, among many others.

Belgium also has some very famous brands, like Côte d’Or, Neuhaus, Leonidas, Godiva, Guylian, and Debailleul.

Best Swiss Brands 2016 positions Nestlé as the second most valuable Swiss brand and Lindt as the thirteenth.

What makes Swiss watches tick?

For reliability and handcrafted quality, Swiss watches are so commonly cited that it’s become almost a cliché.

The story of Swiss watchmaking starts in 1541, when the industry emerged in Geneva after reforms introduced by John Calvin led to the prosperity of the watchmaking industry in Switzerland. Calvin’s reformation forbid flashy jewelry, but Calvin saw the watch as nothing more than a useful timekeeping device. This loophole jumpstarted the Swiss watch tradition that we know today, and so Calvin’s attempt to end displays of wealth unintentionally led to tremendous prosperity for Geneva.

Widespread industrialization in the 20th century enabled the  mass production of Swiss watches. The end of World War I saw the introduction of wrist watches, which of course became popular across the globe. Today, Switzerland has the world’s third-largest watch industry.

The average Swiss watch costs €650. No one buys a Swiss watch to find out what time it is. The attraction is intangible: precise engineering, beautifully displayed. The art of fine watchmaking has all but died out in most places, but it thrives in Switzerland. When it comes to watches, “Swiss-made” continues to be one of the world’s most valuable brand marks—impressive, considering what the industry is facing with the rise of digitalization and wearables!

As Best Swiss Brands 2016 makes clear, Swiss watch brands still reign—16 different brands related to the Swiss watch industry make the list:

#3 Rolex
#7 Omega
#15 Patek Philippe Geneve
#23 Chopard Geneve
#24 Longines
#25 Breguet
#26 Audemars Piguet
#28 Tissot
#31 Vacheron Constantin
#32 IWC
#33 Swatch
#34 TAGHeuer
#36 Jaeger-LeCoultre
#40 Hublot
#41 Breitling
#42 Rado

Congratulations to all the brands who made this year’s list. A combination of tradition and innovation has earned each of Switzerland’s best brands a top spot, and their collective values of quality, precision, and reliability have helped brand Switzerland itself as a nation.

Chief Executive Officer, EMEA & LatAm