Traveler's Guide: Buying Swiss-Made Products in Zurich

Traveler's Guide: Buying Swiss-Made Products in Zurich

Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city, and although it may feel like a bustling metropolis, the tranquil essence of the Alps flows fervently through the lively cobblestone streets, the buzzing train station, and the frenzied designer boutiques. Most shops in downtown Zurich open at 9 am and close at 8 pm during the week. Souvenir and chocolate shops, along with the shops located in the main train station, often operate longer hours. There, you will find some of the items listed in this article fit to make you an ideal Swiss gift!

1. Cuckoo Clock

Cuckoo Clock
Everyone loves an adorable cuckoo clock and anticipating the tiny bird’s signal of the hour striking. Though most people may believe that the cuckoo clock is a German invention, the Swiss have contributed their own special touch to its design. Swiss cuckoo clocks differ from their German counterparts in a sense that they resemble a traditional wooden Swiss chalet. Some feature St. Bernard dogs, colorful flowers, and people dancing in traditional Swiss clothing. Swiss cuckoo clocks are specifically sought after for their high-quality craftsmanship, delightful music and, of course, irresistible charm. Clocks range in quality and price, from 392 to 925 CHF for wooden, handmade, pendulum-operated versions, or similar battery-operated ones for 365 CHF, available at Schweizer Heimatwerk. Less expensive clocks can be purchased from most souvenir shops in Zurich, including Teddy’s Souvenir shop at Limmatquai 34, open Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 8 pm, Saturdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm. Teddy’s sells a pendulum-operated clock for as little as 32.80 CHF, and a mechanical 8-day clock with music for 2,000 CHF.

2. Cheese Fondue Set

Cheese Fondue Set
Cheese fondue is a popular traditional Swiss dish. It is served in restaurants, mountaintop ski resorts, on boat cruises, and in nearly every Swiss home. Although popular all over the world, cheese fondue tastes extra special in its land of origin, where it’s made with fresh Swiss cheeses like Gruyere and Emmentaler, combined with white wine, garlic and brandy, and served with cubes of crusty bread. Dipping and eating Swiss cheese fondue is fun to do and its distinct smell and taste will stay with you forever. Bring home the important and fun piece of Swiss culture by purchasing a hand-painted fondue pot, or an entire fondue set, right from the country that invented it. Artistic hand-painted ceramic pots can be purchased at Schweizer Heimatwerk for 99 to 150 francs, and feature adorable hand-painted cows, St. Bernard dogs, or Swiss crosses. Matching forks for 80 to 120 francs for four, and warmers for 128 to 220 francs can be purchased to compete your fondue set. As a less pricey option, basic sets can be purchased from Manor department store at Bahnhoffstrasse 75, for as little as 40 francs for a single serving size.

3. Swiss Chocolate

Swiss Chocolate
People of Switzerland don’t boast the world's record for the highest per-capita chocolate consumption without reason. Worldwide, people are already in love with Lindtt chocolate and know just how special the Swiss-made chocolate is. Zurich is a home to many different chocolatiers who produce incredibly fresh treats on a weekly basis, a definite must-try. To bring home a box of the “world’s freshest truffles” from Sprungli, one of Zurich’s very first chocolate companies with three locations in Zurich’s main train station, and two on Bahnhoffstrasse, at 21 and 67, would definitely be a good idea. Each Sprungli location has different operating hours, some opening as early as 6:45 am and the train station locations staying open as late as 9 pm. The newer Merkur confectionery, open Monday through Friday from 9 am until 8 pm, and Saturdays until 6 pm, sells the highly-sought after handmade Laderach chocolates. Merkur is located in the heart of Bahnhoffstrasse, at number 106. A box of 24 Laderach truffles sells for 33.50 CHF and a box of 8 pralines is 12.50 CHF. A great gift idea for those not lucky enough to join you in your Swiss adventure would be a box of locally-made pralines, featuring a painting of Lake Zurich on the front. The Lake Zurich box is available from well-known Zurich chocolatier, Teuscher, and ranges in price from 32 to 128 CHF. Teuscher has two locations in Zurich with longer opening hours than most shops. Their quaint shop, located down a cobblestone alley of the Old Town, at Storchengasse 9, is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 7 pm, 
Saturday - 10 am to 6 pm, and Sunday from 4 pm to 6 pm. Teuscher’s larger and often busier location, at Bahnhofstrasse 46, is open Monday through Wednesday from 9 am till 7 pm, Thursday and Friday 9 am to 8pm, Saturday 9 am to 6 pm, and Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm. To discover Zurich’s different confectioneries and bakeries, selling a wide variety of hand-painted pralines, magical macaroons, and amazing marzipans, just wander down Bahnhofstrasse or any of its side streets, such as Rennwegg or Schlüsselgasse, and discover Zurich’s numerous delights.

4. “Swiss Made” Watches

“Swiss Made” Watches
Since the 16th century, the Swiss have been perfecting the art of timekeeping. With superior craftsmanship and elegant design, Swiss brand watches have become world famous, boasting - the top brands - the prestigious and strictly standardized “Swiss Made” description as a selling feature. So what better place in the world to pick up a funky new Swatch, or invest in a lifelong relationship with a classy Breitling, than in Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich? Bahnhofstrasse, leading from Zurich’s central train station, has been renowned as one of the best shopping streets in the world. From top designer boutiques to touristy shops and diverse department stores, the street offers many options for those wishing to purchase a Swiss-made timepiece. The sophisticated Les Ambassedeurs store at Bahnhofstrasse 64, or the new Patek Phillippe boutique at Bahnhofstrasse 31, will flatter you with movie star treatment if you are in the market for a new Rolex or Chopard. For those looking for a more varied shopping experience, Manor department store has the largest selection of watches on the block. Located at number 75 on Bahnhofstrassee, open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm, Manor sells Swatch’s youthful new brand Flik Flak, starting at 35 francs, a special Tissot for 7500 francs, and everything in between.

5. Heidi Books

Heidi Books
The little girl in a milkmaid dress, with braids and a kind spirit, has become a classic Swiss character known and loved worldwide. The fictional alpine adventures of Heidi have been read to children since the 17th century. Follow along with the special children in your life, as young Heidi adapts to life with her grandfather, secluded in the Swiss Alps, her adventures to Germany to meet a new friend, and her return to the mountains to spread joy and hope to those around her. Touted as stories “for children and those who love children”, the Heidi book series is a must-buy when visiting Zurich. Orell Fussli, the bookshop located at Bahnhoffstrasse 70, open Monday to Friday 9 am to 8 pm and Saturdays 9 am to 6 pm, is the largest English-language bookstore in all of Europe. It holds over 40,000 books in English, and provides a warm quiet venue to browse for your perfect version of the Heidi series. Offered in hard and soft cover, a variety of Heidi books can be purchased from Orell Fussli for between 8.90 and 30 francs. Schweizer Heimatwerk sells the complete set in beautifully-illustrated hardcovers for 47 francs each. The shop also sells an adorable hand-sewn rag book for 155 francs, and includes removable cloth characters. The handmade Heidi doll is 87 francs.

6. Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife
A trip to Zurich would not be complete without a purchase of a Swiss army knife. These intricate tools are no longer just for woodsmen and campers. Victorinox, the makers of the original Swiss army knife, now make product lines entitled “Elegant Pocket Tools” and “Victorinox USB”. The popular “Cyber Tool” boasts the classic blades and tools with the addition of small pliers and a multi head screwdriver, for IT professionals, engineers, and other “computer freaks”. The “Cigar Cutter”, features a multi-circumference cigar blade and a sleek metallic casing, while the “Waiter” includes a corkscrew and both, bottle- and can opener. Some knives come with digital clocks, engrave-able front plates, paintings of the Matterhorn, USB storage, even pink camouflage casings. Souvenir shops, selling Swiss army knives, can be found throughout Zurich’s downtown, including Dolmetsch, with one location in the Zurich train station, open Monday to Friday 8 am until 9 pm, 9 am to 8 pm on Saturdays, and another at Limmatquia 126, open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 7 pm, and until 6 pm on Saturdays. Domletsch sells a variety of Vicorinox knives and luggage. Purchase “My First Victorinox” for 25 francs, the “Cyber Tool” for 32 francs, a knife with a painting of Lake Zurich on the front for 37 francs, or the robust “Swiss Champ” for 422 francs.

7. Music Boxes

Music Boxes
Building on the tradition of superior watchmaking skills, Switzerland is also famous for their intricately made music boxes. The first music box factories opened in Switzerland in the early 19th century and at one time the industry even surpassed that of watchmaking. Today, Swiss music boxes still feature the same function, playing songs like “Edelweiss” and the “Happy Wanderer” via metal cylinders and pins. High-end music boxes allow cylinders to be changed in order to play many different songs. The classic style of Swiss music boxes has not changed from its day of invention, but today a much larger selection is available. Boxes are available with hand-painted scenes of olden day hikers and shepherds, or come fashioned as wooden Swiss chalets with detailed carving of flowers and water troughs. More contemporary designs are also available: a transparent box that allows the incredible inner-workers to be seen, or the “Royles Royce” of music boxes, a large polished inlaid wooden box with changeable rules, sold for 10,000 francs. Schweizer Heimatwerk has the best selection of wooden handmade music boxes, priced from 100 francs to the 10,000-franc art piece.

8. Mondaine Railway Clock

Mondaine Railway Clock
When arriving in, departing from, or just wandering around Zurich’s impressive main train station, visitors often take notice of the large central clock, with its sleek design and odd ability to apparently stop time. The Mondaine railway clock was designed in 1940 by Hans Hilfiker, and has become the official timekeeper, placed in every federal station, of the Swiss railway. Its clean look, bold red hand, and incredibly unique movement, have made the clock a Swiss icon. Its exclusive movement spreads 58 seconds over the course of one minute. The clock then appears to stop time for two seconds. To the Swiss, being two seconds early always makes you on time. Today, replicas of the clock are available for purchase in a variety of sizes. Display a piece of Swiss design perfection in your own home by purchasing one from Manor department store for 139 francs, or from Schweizer Heimatwerk for 180 to 195 francs, which includes a small replica of the station’s entire clock stand.

9. Army Blanket Products

Army Blanket Products
Swiss army blankets have not changed since they were first used to keep soldiers warm in the snowy forests of the Alps. The grey, red, and white blankets have always been made of high-quality Swiss wool and bear the iconic Swiss cross. Today, however, the blankets and the belts discarded by the army are being transformed into other weather-hearty products, many still including their issuing number. In a small saddler’s workshop on the mountainside, the warm and waterproof material is reworked into fashionable messenger bags and purses, handy waist packs and travel duffels, hearty rain boots and gloves, a variety of comfy slippers, even pencil bags, book covers, and i-pod holders. Swiss army blanket products are classic fashion pieces that are sure to stay in style just as the iconic blanket has. The magical Franz Karl Weber toyshop at Bahnhofstrasse 52, open Monday to Wednesday 9 am to 6:30 pm, Thursday to Friday until 8 pm, Saturday 9 am to 6 pm, and extended hours before Christmas, sells a selection of Army blanket bags for 50 to 165 francs. The best selection of products however, can be found at Schweizer Heimatwerk, with items priced from 11 francs for the i-pod holder to 238 francs for the large duffel.

10. Appenzeller Dog Collar

Appenzeller Dog Collar
Appenzell is a beautiful rolling green region in the Swiss Alps, where the Appenzeller Sennenhund, or mountain dog, originated. Dogs in Switzerland have been wearing the red, black, or tan, Appenzeller dog collars for over 250 years, and the fashion is now spreading throughout Europe. Today, collars and leashes can be found in either traditional or more modern versions of the original design, made of high-quality Swiss leather and adorned with detailed medal Alpine figures. Traditional designs feature smooth leather and gold metal cutouts in the shapes of herders, dogs, and cows. Modern versions can be found with faux alligator print and shiny white Swiss crosses. Schweizer Heimatwerk offers the traditional style of collar from 52 francs to 79 francs, with matching leashes for 72 francs. A quick tram ride from the main shopping area of Bahnhofstrasse, to Sternenstrasse 74, will deliver you to the modern boutique, The House of Dog, that sells the updated version of the collar for 120 francs to 150 francs, depending on the size. The House of Dog is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6:30 pm, and Saturdays until 6 pm. The small shop is a dog-lover’s heaven with an abundance of contemporary Swiss-made dog products.

11. Raclette Maker

Raclette Maker
Raclette is another Swiss cheese-based dish, and has been served in Switzerland for over 700 years. The dish originated from shepherds and farmers working on the mountainsides who would cook on open fire, boiling potatoes and melting special Raclette cheese on hot rocks. Raclette cheese is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and is designed just for melting. With a perfect balance of fat and moisture, Raclette cheese melts into a fantastic creamy texture, never separating or becoming oily, allowing it to blanket the tiny potatoes just right.
The word Raclette is derived from the French racler, which means, “to scrape”, and that’s just what you do. Although today, Raclette is often made on a special electric tabletop grill, the unique spatula used to scrape the cheese has not changed. Raclette cheese is often available in specialty shops worldwide, so bring home your own decorative Raclette maker and serve up the pungent and unforgettable flavors of this traditional Swiss dish for your friends and family. There is no need to worry about electrical converters, because Manor department store sells a cute candle-powered Raclette maker that includes a special scraper for 15.90 CHF.

12. Navyboot Leather Shoes

Navyboot Leather Shoes
Navyboot footwear takes a contemporary approach to early 20th century style, with a focus on industrial era craftsmanship - “Tradition with a twist,” as they call it. Founded right in Zurich in 1991, by Bruno Bencivenga, the brand produces quality leather footwear for both men and women. Crafted with deerskin, calfskin, Nappa and paten leathers, Navyboot offers pumps, flats, boots, loafers, oxfords and more, in practical modern styles. As Navyboot grows, the brand remains ever loyal to their Alpine roots, often featuring the mountain peaks and Swiss models in their ads. Bring home a pair of hearty, chocolate-brown calfskin boots, spicy-red Mary Jane pumps, or classic Goodyear welted penny loafers, that showcase Switzerland’s high-quality fashion. To explore Navyboot’s Swiss-made products, visit their newly-reopened flagship store, boasting classic Le Corbusier furniture and a Swarovski chandler, made just for the space, at Bahnhofstrasse 69, open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 8 pm and Saturdays until 6 pm. Other downtown Zurich locations include Nüschelerstrasse 35.

13. Traditional Swiss-Wear for Girls

Traditional Swiss-Wear for Girls
Ask any Swiss lady about Tiger Finkli, and she will surely tell you that the adorable little slippers have been worn by great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers and daughters in Switzerland for generations. The traditional baby footwear looks anything but traditional, featuring a bold feline print and bright red pompoms. It is said that nearly every little Swiss girl takes her first steps in a pair of Tiger Finkli. Purchase a pair of these lovable little slippers for your special little girl, and coordinate them with her own classic Heidi style dress. Schweizer Heimatwork carries a hand-sewn Heidi dress, featuring a short-sleeved white blouse, embroidered red smock with a matching red bag, priced at 225 francs. Pair the head-turning Tiger Finkli, sold for 47 francs, with the hand-sewn Heidi dress, and your little girl will be yodeling with joy.

14. Alta Terra Alpine Herb Food Products

Alta Terra Alpine Herb Food Products
A family-based business from Bern, Switzerland, Alta Terra produces regionally flavored oils, vinegars, salts, honeys, and other food products, infused with herbs, flowers, and spices of the Alps. Produced from old family recipes, Alta Terra only uses hand-processed, organic ingredients from small family farms that are free of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. Reminisce about your Swiss vacation over a hot cup of tea sweetened with black locust flower honey from Ticino Switzerland. Impress your guests at your next dinner party by serving salad dressed in flavorful oils and vinegars infused with basil, parsley, lovage, and oregano, grown right in the Swiss Alps. Or kick up any dish with an innovative Alta Terra salt, made with coarse salt from the mines of Bex, Switzerland, mixed with herbs, spices, even tasty dried flowers, such as mallow and marigold. Schweizer Heimatwerk sells the black locust, or Akazien, honey for 17.50 CHF, the Alpine herb vinegar for 21 CHF, oil for 19 CHF, and the Alpine salts for 8.50 CHF.

15. Handmade Wooden Toys

Handmade Wooden Toys
From the hillside forests of Switzerland to your child’s toy box, these traditional wooden toys continue to be a hit with kids today. Classic wooden tops, yo-yos, planes and trains are painted red and feature the white Swiss cross. Cows with bells and St. Bernards on wheels are classic Swiss figures that are constructed to the highest of standards. These adorable toys, made from local beech, maple, lime, and birch trees, are wonderful gifts for children, classic toy collectors, or anyone who appreciates high-quality craftsmanship. Wooden toys and many other handicrafts can be found at Zurich’s most popular “Made in Switzerland” shop, Schweizer Heimatwerk. The centrally located store is located on the river’s edge, at Uraniastrasse 1, and houses locally-made traditional and contemporary handicrafts and artworks. The helpful English-speaking staff are there to assist you Monday-Friday, 9 am to 8 pm, and Saturdays from 9 am to 6pm. Wooden toys range in price from 8 francs, for a top, to 74 francs for a train set.

16. Trychel Cow Bell

Trychel Cow Bell
Anyone who visits Switzerland will tell you that cowbells are the music of the Alps. In order for farmers to keep track of their livestock grazing in the vast rolling highlands, nearly all cows, sheep, goats, and yaks wear bells. The sounds of cowbells ring throughout the entire country in the warmer months. Unlike cast iron bells worn by livestock in other countries, the Swiss make a special bell out of pressed sheet metal, called a Trychel. The sound of the Trychel bell has a distinct clank, and is also lighter and more comfortable for the animal. Because of its exclusive design, the Trychel bell has become an important part of the Swiss culture. A more version of the bell is used in the annual Alpabzug, or cow parade festival, each fall. After a long summer grazing in high mountainous pastures, livestock are paraded down into the valley towns to take refuge in barns for the winter. The same colorful bells worn by animals in the parade are for sale in many shops throughout Zurich. Cowbells can be bought at nearly every souvenir shop, though the range of sizes and quality are minimal. Schweizer Heimatwerk sells authentic decorative bells for 19 francs for a keychain-sized bell, 830 francs for a very large detailed bell, and all sizes in between. Similarly, Franz Karl Weber sells a range of cowbells from 16 francs to 425 francs.
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