Let’s face it. Whether you’re a long time resident or a recently arrived expat, friends and family love gifts from Switzerland. These are the ones I have most appreciated over the years.
Knives and Accessories : There is more to Victorinox than the hundreds of very cool Swiss Army knives. The quaintest recommendation I heard from a friend is the outstanding quality of their potato peeler (CHF 2.40). Additionally they have knife sharpeners for dummies (like me) ranging from CHF 15.00-CHF 30.00 and a very handy key chain. This year I discovered a whittling project book I plan to give my brother-in-law. The Tinker knife recommended in the book is mere CHF 14.50 on Galaxus.
T-shirts : A graphic designer in Valais creates these great t-shirt for those who understand Switzerland and the French language. There are t-shirts for the crass (Suisse m’Habite and Apricopine) and t-shirts I would buy for my son. My favorites are Reine Bull Energy Milk (showing the matriarchal fighting cows in the Valais) and Hard Core des Alps (showing the Cors des Alps a.k.a. alphorns). You can order the t-shirts on line at Green Soul for CHF 35.
Clocks and Watches: Subtly Swiss the Mondaine clocks are the official Swiss Railway clock. They were designed in 1944 by a railway employee. The red second hand represents the red disc conductors used to inform the driver that the train was ready to depart. In 1986 the company took the design and began offering a watch and clock collection to the public. Mondaine made the world stage when in 2012 Apple iOs6 used the CFF clock design on their iPhone, iPad and computers without the necessary permission. The illegal usages of the design led to an unofficial payment of CHF 20 million to the Swiss Railway, who still owns the patents.
According to their website, the official Mondain store is Airbijoux Aerogare at the airport train station. I have seen the brand at the Swiss Corner shop and on the Galaxus website where the 40cm wall clock is CHF 395.
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, Swatch has a fabulous selection of watches. The themes include Swiss, winter, Russian dolls, Japanese dolls, colors, cities, for kids, etc. My favorite, as a fan of Swiss trivia, is the “D’Schwizer” design with its 26 modified cantonal flags (for example, Geneva’s eagle is a cooked turkey, Uri’s bull is cross eyed). Most Swatches are priced around CHF 60.
Colorful Cow: My mother wants a Swiss cow. It seems like they used to be everywhere but this week I found the cows at the Swiss Corner Shop on Rue des Alpes 7 or in Ouchy (Vaud) at Bazaar Ouchy. They have cows of all themes. My folks live in cowboy country with Latin American influences; so two cows caught my eye. In Geneva they are priced at around CHF 169 while in Ouchy (near Lausanne) CHF 158.
Cow Bells: The sound of cow bells is ubiquitous to the Swiss Alp mountain experience. Cow bells in Geneva are between CHF 480- 850. My feeling is if you’re going to spend that kind of money on a bell, order it directly from the maker with your specifications – regional type and size of the bell, engravings and leather embellishments. My husband gave me a personalized bell from Mr. Pierre-André Tchantz whose atelier in somewhere in the Jura hills. The entire process, including finding his workshop, is a fabulous Swiss Experience.
Do you have a special gift from the region that you like to give? I would love to know. After 18 years, I need some new ideas.
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