The fruits of a passion

Why does someone become a collector? And what do they need to keep in mind? René Beyer meets E. Paul Scheidegger – and discovers a new world.

René Beyer and Dr. E. Paul Scheidegger, dermatologist and co-founder of Online-

In Brugg, where the Reuss and Limmat rivers flow into the Aare, referred as the Wasserschloss.

On a boat and on the veranda of aa 180-year-old fisherman’s house belonging to Scheidegger’s Kiwanis Club friend Markus Klöti.

To discuss collecting – and about what makes time so fascinating.

Maundy Thursday, on an intoxicatingly warm spring afternoon.

Uhrensammler E. Paul Scheidegger und René Beyer


His grandfather’s watch was not alone for long: With the same dedication that made his medical projects a success, he pursued his passion for watches across the decades – and, to this day, he meticulously writes down every detail, every measurement, every finding in a book. He also notes which of his six children will inherit which watches one day: “I don’t just want to leave them money; I want to leave them with stories, memories, a bit of passion.” René Beyer nods:

“When it comes to collecting, you need to have a plan for what you’ll do with your collection one day.” Apart from that, he says, a collection needs to bring the collector joy in the here and now.

When you observe how carefully Paul Scheidegger handles the case of his grandfather’s pocket watch, how he appreciates the unique brushed finish – this soft and yet distinctive structure that is now impossible to find – with the skill and sensitivity of a trained dermatologist, then it’s clear that his watches have found a wonderful home. That he would never barter with them or trade them in for more valuable pieces: “My watches are a part of my history: When one finds its way to me, then it stays with me.”


Are the mechanical works of art a sort of alternative to his extremely digital dayto- day life? Scheidegger laughs: “The digital world cannot satisfy human beings – at the end of the day, we need to touch and feel!” Today, we live in a hybrid world: The internet has made many things easier, especially research. “That makes institutions like Beyer, where you can physically experience these objects and discuss them with experts, even more important.”

Then they leave the house for the speedboat, where they are chauffeured around the Wasserschloss – and where they forget all about time. The natural, untouched lake shores, the wild floodplains and islands, and the choppy waterways remind René Beyer of his second home – Alaska – where he owns a home that he been unable to visit for far too long. “I had never been to the Wasserschloss before this – only heard of it,” he says. “I’m deeply impressed by this world that’s so new to me and yet so close to Zurich!”



Paul Scheidegger, who grew up in Canada and found his second home in Brugg thanks to his wives, also appreciates the spectacular natural landscape. He uses it every day to exercise. After one and a half hours, the boat docks at the old fisherman’s house, and the two men seem relaxed, as if they had just done an hour of yoga. Over a glass of white wine, they talk for a long time about the facets of time and its measuring instruments. Then they bid farewell with a warm embrace and a promise to meet again soon at the Beyer Watch and Clock Museum, perhaps to hold one or two of the watches there – and to let themselves be touched by these objects and their histories.

Bootstour Schweiz

Beyer Chronometrie