Beyer Clock and Watch Museum

Our permanent exhibition

By observing the stars and the rhythms of their movements, our ancestors discovered a reliable set of principles to make time measurable and tangible. They based their daily routine on the position of the sun and the constantly changing shadows. In ancient Egypt, this knowledge was used to develop the first instruments to measure time that we know about, such as the shadow stick and the sundial. 

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Almost 4,000 years passed between the creation of the sundial and the development of the quartz wristwatch. Mankind has also changed enormously during this period and is closely linked to the development of the time-measuring devices in our museum. With more than 250 objects in the permanent exhibit, ranging from the Egyptian water clock from around 1400 BC to the modern quartz clock, the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum provides a broad overview of the history of clock- and watchmaking. This art has been shaped in equal measure by creativity, technical innovation and manual dexterity. You can admire curiosities and automatons as well as record-breaking small clocks, decorative and valuable pocket watches, rare table clocks with planetariums, porcelain clocks, numerous marine chronometers, complicated wristwatches and much more. The objects are beautifully exhibited in six niches and numerous showcases. 

We are happy to offer you a guided tour through our museum. Please contact us to schedule a time. You can also visit us and discover fascinating information in six different languages using our iPads.

New acquisitions in the
Beyer Clock and Watch Museum

Every year, new masterpieces are added to the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum’s collection, filling some gaps in the display and complementing the existing exhibits. The museum continually acquires interesting clocks and watches from the past as well as more contemporary timepieces from recent years.

New acquisitions 2017

New trouvailles from the past have been added to modern horological pieces in the collection of the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum. Four of the 18 new items are gifts: a Patek Philippe wristwatch from 1958; two intriguing wooden dolls from the 1940s and 1950s in the shape of robots, which back then promoted the stylish and innovative Mido watches Multifort and Powerwind; and an antique textbook of horology from 1878 by Glashütte.

New acquisitions 2016

Outstanding clocks and watches from the past as well as significant timepieces from the last few years are added to the collection of the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum every year. Two new acquisitions in 2016 are particularly worth mentioning. The first is a wooden pocket watch handcrafted by the Bronnikov brothers (Russia, approximately 1870) with a chain of wooden beads and a separate wooden outer case. Even the movement is almost completely made of wood and is wound using a round wooden key – a true masterpiece. The Ticino table clock (approximately 1680) is also very special. The case of this extremely rare pendulum clock is made of walnut and dark pear wood, and can now be seen by the public for the very first time after 40 years in private possession. 

The Beyer Clock and Watch Museum is located in the basement of the shop on Bahnhofstrasse 31 and comprises one of the most important private clock and watch collections in the world. It tells a seamless story of horology from 1400 BC to today.

New acquisitions 2015

Interesting clocks and watches from the past as well as more contemporary timepieces from the last few years are added to the collection of the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum every year. René Beyer and Jürgen Delémont acquired some truly exquisite horological masterpieces again in 2015. The collection of the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum is expanded every year, with new pieces filling some gaps in the display and complementing the existing exhibits. 

The museum illustrates in extensive detail how people have addressed the issue of time and it is one of the finest attractions in the city of Zurich. In 2015, around 8,500 visitors came to the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum, which is managed by three part-time employees. Three-quarters of the visitors were from abroad, which is one of the reasons why nine iPads have been available since 2015, providing visitors with detailed information in German, English, French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. 

New acquisitions 2014

A special exhibition in the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum presents new acquisitions from last year. Many of the clocks and watches have been purchased to supplement the permanent exhibition. These include, for example, a photo camera in the shape of a wristwatch, some pocket watches featuring Beyer signatures and a bangle jewellery watch. The richly decorated table clock made from Meissen porcelain with two separate candlesticks is sure to have once adorned an elegant nineteenth century living room. 

You are cordially invited to visit us and see the new acquisitions in the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum. The Beyer Clock and Watch Museum is one of Zurich’s top attractions and one of the greatest private collections in the world accessible to the public. Its amazing range of exhibits is being continually expanded through both active purchases and generous gifts.

New acquisitions 2011–2013

New acquisitions during this period included a pendulum clock boasting high-quality sculptures and the signature “Theodor Beyer’s Sohn Zürich” on the dial, a beautiful pocket watch in the shape of a hot-air balloon, and many other exquisite timepieces. Of course, there was also the world’s smallest watch with calendar function. It is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records and was a gift from the famous watchmaker Svend Andersen.

The Beyer Clock and Watch Museum is one of Zurich’s top attractions and one of the greatest private collections in the world accessible to the public. Its amazing range of exhibits is being continually expanded through both active purchases and generous gifts.

New acquisitions 2010

Every year, new masterpieces are added to the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum’s collection, filling some gaps in the display and complementing the existing exhibits. The museum continually acquires interesting clocks and watches from the past as well as more contemporary timepieces from recent years.

Loans

The Griffin

Lent to:
MUDEC – Museo delle Culture

Exhibition:
“ROBOT – THE HUMAN PROJECT’
Exhibition dates: 4 March 2020 to 26 July 2020
Location: Milan, Italy

From the first mechanical devices in Ancient Greece to the new limits of artificial intelligence, humans have always been fascinated by the idea of creating an artificial companion. The exhibition portrays the relationship between humans and their kindred beings, revealing past creations to the public.

Loan:
“The Griffin” from the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum

“Oil lamp” and “Watchmaker’s lathe”

Lent to:
Appenzeller Museum

Exhibition:
“Between light and shadow – Craft from the past | Guilds | Lanterns” 
Exhibition dates: 5 October 2018 to 27 April 2019
Location: Zurich

The Appenzeller Museum invites you to visit the world of bygone crafts: milliners, barbers, saddlers and white coopers – the exhibition gives visitors an insight into both well-known and forgotten professions. Trouvailles from the guilds’ archives and beautiful lanterns illustrate the historical influence of the guild system on the different professions. Three artists from Eastern Switzerland present an artistic interpretation of the old crafts between light and shadow. 

Loan:
Nineteenth century oil lamp
Two watchmaker’s lathes from 1900

“In search of style”

Lent to:
Swiss National Museum

Exhibition:
“In search of style”
Exhibition dates: 23 March 2020 to 15 July 2018
Location: Zurich

This special exhibition in the Swiss National Museum takes visitors on a journey through Europe and Switzerland in the second half of the nineteenth century. It was an age of rapid technological change and social upheaval. Carefully curated objects from the worlds of architecture, art and craft provide visitors with an insight into the various juxtapositions of styles that marked a controversial era, when specimen collections were built up, schools of arts and crafts were established, and major cities began to acquire the look we are familiar with today.

Loan:
10 clocks and watches from the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum

“Knights, farmers, Lutherans”

Lent to:
The Free State of Bavaria, represented by the Bavarian State Ministry for Education, Culture, Science and Arts – Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte, Augsburg.

Exhibition:
“Knights, farmers, Lutherans”
Exhibition dates: 9 May 2017 to 5 November 2017
Location: Coburg, Veste Coburg (Coburg Castle)

Knights are fighting their last battle, farmers are rising up and there is trouble brewing in the cities. New ideas are spreading among the people, and centuries-old certainties are toppling. The “Belief, community, denomination” section tells the imperial history from 1530 through to the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. The astronomical compendium with the Gregorian calendar on the inside of the lid points to the 1582 calendar reform that was so momentous for the Free Imperial City of Augsburg.

Loan:
Pocket-sized astronomical compendium
Around 1582, Augsburg, Germany; Christoph Schissler (1554–1609)

“The Neuenburg pendulum clock: Between art and mechanics”

Lent to:
Musée international d’horlogerie (MIH)

Exhibition:
“The Neuenburg pendlum clock: Between art and mechanics”
Exhibition dates: 6 May 2017 to 8 October 2017
Location: MIH, Salle Hans Erni, 2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Magnificent? Mundane? Old-fashioned? Legendary? The Neuenburg pendulum clock adorns many apartments, salons and government offices far beyond the borders of the canton. The exhibition tells the story of the Neuenburg pendulum clock, from its creation in the sixteenth century to today.

Loan:
Louis XIV Neuenburg pendulum clock
Around 1720, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland; Josué Robert

“Crystal cabinet of curiosities”

Lent to:
Sasso San Gottardo, Airolo, Ticino

Exhibition:
“Crystal cabinet of curiosities”
Exhibition dates: 24 June 2017 to 15 October 2017
Location: Gotthard Pass, Raum Themenwelt

Exhibition on the Gotthard Pass about the magic of mountain rock crystals, their beauty and the art of crafting decorative items and jewellery, both in the past and today. The exhibition is located in the deep tunnels and caverns of the former Gotthard fortress Sasso San Gottardo.

Loan:
Late Renaissance watch with mountain rock crystal cover
Around 1650, Vienna, Austria; Daniel Scheyrer (1582–1662)