History of Beyer

As long as time exists. Beyer.

Beyer Chronometrie on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich is Switzerland’s oldest watch retailer. Eight generations of the Beyer family business have looked after the most beautiful aspects of time for more than 260 years. With a strong emphasis on tradition.

Timeline

In 1760, Matthäus Beyer laid the foundation for the impressive family history in the German town of Donaueschingen. In 1822, his grandson Stephan Beyer brought the name and the company to Switzerland, to Feuerthalen in the canton of Zurich. His son opened the first shop in Zurich’s Niederdorf in 1860, and in 1877, Beyer Chronometrie moved to the city’s new epicentre, the Bahnhofstrasse. The company first took up residence in the building of the former Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (today: Credit Suisse) on Paradeplatz square, and in 1927 moved to the other side of Bärengasse, where it has remained to this day. Since 1996, René Beyer has been at the helm, representing the eighth generation of the Beyer family. Like all his predecessors, he is a qualified watchmaker.

1760
First mention

Historic documents from 1760 first mention the existence of a watchmaker called Beyer.

1806
End of the Holy Roman Empire
1822
Hello Switzerland

The Beyer family originates from the German town of Donaueschingen, in the south-west of Baden-Württemberg, where the Beyers worked as watchmakers and traders. In 1822, 23-year-old Stephan Beyer brings the name to Switzerland.

1830
Founding of the company

Around 1830, Stephan Beyer founds a “watchmaker’s and spice shop” in Feuerthalen in the canton of Zurich. The watchmaker probably travels to markets both in the region and further afield, also trading in spices.

1860
Reopening

A shop is opened at Niederdorfstrasse in Zurich. When Limmatquai develops into Zurich’s main shopping street, Theodor Beyer-Danioth sets up his display windows – still in the same building – so that they faces the street.

1893
Zurich becomes a major city
1877
Beyer relocates

The family business moves to new premises in the splendid new Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (today: Credit Suisse) building on Bahnhofstrasse 25, shortly after the street is built. Beyer carries out its business in this magnificent building designed by Alfred Escher for 50 years. A few years after the move, Adelrich Beyer (1858‒1915) takes over management of the company.

1905
Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity is presented.
1927
Beyer relocates again

The company takes up residence in the brand new Orell Füssli building on Bahnhofstrasse 31, where it is able to rent larger premises. Beyer has remained at this exclusive address to this day.

1936
A time of crisis

Beyer’s existence hangs by a thread – a fate shared by many other companies during the global economic crisis. The collapse of several foreign currencies, the absence of German customers and the devaluation of goods causes considerable problems for the company. However, here Beyer’s strong, long-standing business relations pay off: banks come to the rescue, the landlord reduces the rent and brands offer Beyer their support.

1941
The first fully operational computer, the Z3, is invented.
1946
A new generation

Theodor R. Beyer, father of the current co-owner, joins his father Theodor Beyer in the business and takes over the reins in 1955.

1948
The birth of Beyer Chronometrie AG

Conversion into a company limited by shares. The shares are fully owned by the family. 

1962
Lake Zurich freezes over completely.
1968
Electronics arrive

Patek Philippe starts manufacturing electronic watches; Beyer follows them into this segment in 1968. The electronic timekeeping and acoustics department exists until 1993. 

1969
Neil Armstrong is the first man on the moon.
1971
The Beyer Clock and Watch Museum opens

Complete renovation of the premises and opening of the Museum of Timekeeping, later renamed the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum Zurich.

1982
New premises

Expansion and further renovation of the premises (exhibition rooms, prestigious sales rooms, additional display windows and offices) and the museum.

1983
The first mobile phone is launched.
1996
A new generation

Operative management of the company is taken over by the eighth Beyer generation, i.e. Muriel Zahn-Beyer and René Beyer. Since 2003, René Beyer has been the sole managing director.

1998
Complete renovation

Complete external and internal renovation of the existing premises. 

2002
Europe introduces the euro.
2003
Beyer goldsmiths

Opening of the goldsmith’s atelier. Our six goldsmiths create elegant pieces of Beyer jewellery.

2010
250 years of Beyer

We celebrate our 250th anniversary with exclusive events and launch new watches as well as a new jewellery collection to mark the anniversary. The company history is celebrated in a jubilee magazine.

2011
Renovation

The premises are renovated and converted. A new Rolex area is created and a separate Diamond Centre is opened. 

2011
Patek Philippe boutique

The Patek Philippe boutique opens next door. It is the first retailer-managed Patek Philippe boutique in Switzerland. 

2012
Under one roof

Integration of the watchmaking and goldsmith’s ateliers above the shop. All employees now work under the same roof. 

2015
Welcome, Beyer bees!

Ten honey bee colonies move onto the Beyer Chronometrie roof. René Beyer’s dream of making his own honey comes true.

2020
Coronavirus brings everything to a halt

In April, retail stores have to close for eight weeks to help contain the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic – and this includes the Beyer shop. 

2020
A new era

The shop on Bahnhofstrasse gets a completely new look. For five months during renovations, a stylish pop-up shop welcomes guests as usual, its sophisticated design hinting at the new premises. A new era of communication is also heralded, with a new slogan – “As long as time exists” – and a fresh new design of the Beyer website.

Today
Beyer is thriving

Beyer now has 62 employees working across sales (Beyer Watches & Jewellery and the Patek Philippe boutique), service, administration and in the watch atelier.