Zurich embraces history and modernity with a typically Swiss sense of proportion and practicality. Museums of modern art and design reside next to medieval neighborhoods like Old Town and monuments of the Protestant Reformation—an event that dominates much of the country’s history. Today the city routinely sits atop global quality of life surveys, and with good reason: It’s one of the world’s safest and cleanest cities, enjoys highly rated public transit, an enviable location on the edge of Lake Zurich, and is globally connected through its world-class airport. Zurich and its environs, though less saturated with watch brands than Geneva, is home to a few of the important ones, namely IWC and H. Moser & Cie., based in nearby Schaffhausen.
This spring, the watch and jewelry industry will once again hold its single largest trade show, Baselworld, just an hour’s train ride from the city center. While some choose to stay in Basel during the fair for convenience, there are plenty of reasons to book in Zurich instead. As Basel hotel rooms rise to near extortionate rates, with restaurants breaking out “Baselworld menus” complete with inflated prices, the diverse culture, restaurant, and nightlife offerings of Zurich become all the more appealing. Here, a roadmap to the city for watch enthusiasts. —Jonathan Bues
Play: Ecco Zürich
A Michelin-starred restaurant breathes new life into a historic hotel.
By Laura Itzkowitz
Stepping inside the landmarked Atlantis by Giardino feels like being transported to a more glamorous era. Located at the base of the Üetliberg mountain, the midcentury masterpiece, with its iconic spiral staircase, has been a popular stay since it opened in 1970, hosting the likes of Frank Zappa, Freddie Mercury, and Rihanna. After falling into disrepair, the five-star property was born anew thanks to a renovation in 2015. Now it provides a dramatic background for Ecco, where acclaimed chef Rolf Fliegauf—who also runs Ecco outposts in Ascona and St. Moritz—earned two Michelin stars for artfully composed dishes like Scottish salmon with radishes and caviar and Breton red mullet with leeks and sea urchin. The five and eight-course tasting menus are served inside an elegant whitewashed dining room with ivory-hued leather banquettes and a showpiece chandelier that resembles a cluster of icicles. Book a table in advance—demand has soared since the coveted Michelin recognition came last October.
Döltschiweg 234; Tasting menu from $150 per person.
Stay: Kameha Grand
A suite imbued with the spirit of horology awaits.
By Laura Itzkowitz
Zurich isn’t exactly known for its avant-garde creative scene, but Dutch visionary Marcel Wanders injected his signature style into the city’s landscape when he designed the Kameha Grand. Famous for exuberant, off-the-wall interiors and playful subversions of archetypal designs, Wanders created a fantasyland of textures, patterns, and shapes in this 245-room hotel—a member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection—near the city center. “With Zurich at the heart of financial affairs, we couldn’t leave out the walls covered in coins and chocolate wallpaper, the minibars that resemble safes, and sofas that look like Toblerone,” Wanders says. The room to book is the Watchmaker suite adorned with a mishmash of timekeepers on the walls, an oversize clock that doubles as a headboard above the bed, and plenty of space for traveling horological pieces in the walk-in closet. When you want to lose track of time, just pop into the smoker’s lounge for Cuban cigars and an impressive whiskey collection, or the ground-level Italian trattoria, where a massive bowl sculpture hangs from the ceiling, for housemade pasta.
Dufaux-Strasse 1; Rooms start at $259.
Getaway: The Dolder Grand
A late 19th-century stalwart reimagined with contemporary comforts.
By Laura Itzkowitz
The city unfurls from the high vantage point of the Dolder Grand, situated on the edge of the Adlisberg Forest. One of Switzerland’s premier escapes, guests have come to enjoy the resort’s sybaritic pleasures since 1899. A renovation by Foster + Partners in 2008 ushered the historic property into the 21st century, restoring the facade to its original glory and adding two new glazed wings. The two-Michelin-starred Restaurant and the renowned spa are worth the trip alone, but last year’s arrival of Saltz, a seasonal restaurant designed by artist Rolf Sachs with references to the rugged Swiss topography, has added an unexpected new twist. The 175 rooms feature clean-lined, modern furnishings and views of Lake Zurich. Splurge on one of the four bespoke suites, each inspired by a cultural icon, from Alberto Giacometti to London’s 100 Club.
Kurhausstrasse 65; Rooms start at $490 per night.