Beyer moves into the Orell-Füssli-Hof building, the first train pulls into the station at Zurich-Enge – and nobody suspects that the euphoria will be short-lived.

There is a spirit of optimism in the city, which has now recovered from the First World War as well as the economic crisis. Over the past two years, the number of recorded marriages has once more been rising – an indication of resurging public confidence. Although there is considerable friction between the ‘red’ City of Zurich and the conservative Canton, there is progress: legislation for compulsory health insurance has been passed, and things are also looking good for social housing and unemployment insurance.

Let’s imagine Emilie Beyer-Mathys stepping out onto Bahnhofstrasse from Beyer Chronometrie’s cramped, gloomy premises in the “Palais de Credit Suisse", festooned with timepieces from floor to lofty ceiling. She crosses Bärengasse and permits herself a little smile as she passes the new Orell-Füssli-Hof building. Extension work is in full swing, and Beyer Chronometrie will soon be moving into its state-of the-art new premises. She can hardly wait.

Familie Beyer
Experienced turbulent times: Theodor Julius and Emilie Beyer with their children Irma and Theodor.
Villa Grabenhof
The last house on Bahnhofstrasse with a garden: Villa Grabenhof.


Emilie Beyer is 27 years old and well remembers the Villa Grabenhof, which stood here until three years ago: it was the last house on Bahnhofstrasse with a garden. The stuccoed salons – and especially the lavish boudoir – had given rise to all kinds of social gossip. Now, in its place, stands the neoclassical commercial building, with its grand staircases, paternoster lifts and a remarkable 300-square-metre car garage. The complex will prove to be a defining landmark of the Paradeplatz district.

Perhaps Emilie Beyer will walk on to the Fraumünster post office, where her mood will deteriorate: the waiting times here are notorious. Fortunately, construction work has begun on the postal centre next to the Main Station. On the way back to Beyer Chronometrie, Emilie takes in the displays in the Bally building which, like Enge railway station and the first tunnel under the River Sihl, has recently been completed. Thanks to the tunnel, not only has travel become easier, but traffic through the city has also eased considerably; there were previously twelve level crossings between Wollishofen and Zurich Main Station – which were closed for 91 minutes every day.

Emilie returns to the company’s cramped, gloomy premises in the “Palais de Credit Suisse”, where the Beyer family has worked for exactly 50 years. Despite having young children, she is the one who keeps things going whenever her husband, Theodor Julius Beyer, is on the road as President of the Watchmakers’ Association and the Zurich Motorcycle Club, or performing as a guest trumpeter for jazz orchestras in Zermatt. Looking out of the window, she sees one of those fascinating cars driving by. Emilie still has no idea that she herself will soon be one of the first women in Zurich to sit behind the wheel of a car.

She is even less able to imagine that the spirit of optimism in Zurich will be short-lived: in 1929, Switzerland will also be hit by the world economic crisis, and Beyer Chronometrie will survive only because Emilie Beyer resorts to unconventional methods. But that’s for another time.

Beyer Chronometrie Zürich
The “Palais de Credit Suisse” was home to Beyer Chronometrie for exactly 50 years.

Geschehnisse 1927


Picture 1:
Charles Lindbergh is the first person to cross the Atlantic without a stopover. The British Army abolishes the lance as an official combat weapon.

Picture 2:
Georges Lemaître presents his thesis on the beginning of the universe (Big Bang Theory). The transmission of the image of a dollar bill marks the birth of television.

Picture 3:
Sounds can be recorded for the first time: the audio tape is invented. The first Mille Miglia race is held and the Nürburgring inaugurated. It is the birth year of Federal Councillor Otto Stich, Oscar winner Arthur Cohn, popular actor Paul Bühlmann, Pastor Ernst Sieber, banker Hans J. Bär.

Beyer Chronometrie