When observing celestial bodies and their cycles, our ancestors recognised a steadfast regularity, which they used to measure and express the passage of time. They organised their daily routine according to the position of the sun and the constantly changing shadow. In ancient Egypt, this realisation gave rise to the first known time-measuring devices, such as the shadow stick and the sundial.
Almost 4,000 years have passed from the invention of the sundial to the creation of the quartz wristwatch. Humankind has changed tremendously during this time, which has left its mark on the development of the horological instruments in our museum. With over 250 permanent exhibits, ranging from the Egyptian water clock dating from 1400 BC through to the modern-day quartz watch, the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum provides a broad insight into the history of horological craftsmanship. At the same time, this has been shaped by creativity, manual dexterity and technical innovation. On show are curios and automata, as well as record-breaking, tiny watches, ornate and valuable pocket watches, rare table clocks complete with planetariums, porcelain clocks, numerous marine chronometers, complicated wristwatches, and many more. Exhibited in six different sections and numerous display cases, the objects present themselves at their very best.
We would be pleased to organise for you a guided tour through our museum. Contact us to arrange an appointment. Or visit our museum under your own steam and find out all kinds of fascinating facts in any of six different languages using one of our iPads.
External collections by Beyer
Besides the Clock and Watch Museum, Beyer has built up two external collections – comprising automated dolls and electronic watches. We are pleased to open these collections to interested persons on request.
Exhibitions held at the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum
IWC "Icons of time" - September 2018
150 years of IWC – on show at the Beyer Watch and Clock Museum. 150 years of IWC – on show at the Beyer Watch and Clock Museum. Our two firms have worked closely together for 130 years - and we were also the first IWC authorised dealer in Zurich. It is therefore no coincidence that to mark the 150th anniversary of IWC Schaffhausen, our Museum is showcasing over 50 beautiful and rare watches and objects manufactured by the International Watch Company. The exhibition told the story of the manufactory from Eastern Switzerland through specially selected historical treasures and innovative horological masterpieces of the day. Icons of the time – such as the early pocket watch «Pallweber» with its mechanical digital display, or the oldest Portugieser wristwatch in existence were on show. The exhibition also featured numerous Pilot’s and Ingenieur watches from different eras, various artefacts, and insights into materials and designs of the future. These rare objects were on show from 2 July to 21 September 2018.
The exhibition "Chronograph" in the course of time, 1913-1983, by Sebastien Chaulmontet was presented in the Clock and Watch Museum Beyer from 3 July until 20 October 2017. It was devoted to the history and technical development of the wristwatch chronograph, from its beginnings through to the present day. The chronograph enjoys a special status in the world of sophisticated watchmaking. It is characterised by its complex mechanism and impresses with its strong design. Embedded in the history of their century, some chronographs have become icons.
With models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, Venus, Heuer, Angelus, Record, Bovet, Tissot and other brands, a significant chapter in the history of watchmaking was made visible. This exhibition has been created out of passion – passion for timepieces that clearly set themselves apart from the rest.
Time is not just measured in seconds, minutes, hours and days. It also tells thousands upon thousands of stories and is a highly treasured and precious commodity. For Ingrid Rodewald and Maren Ruben, visual artists from Strasbourg, time as a precious commodity forms the basis and focal theme of their creative research and work. In a special exhibition at the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum, their works were paired with specially selected objects, which in turn tell their own story of “precious time”.
From 9 May until 5 June, the Museum has been presenting its successful exhibition from the Geneva Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie at the Lichthof in the Credit Suisse building at Paradeplatz. The various timepieces has been displayed in the form of stunning photographs accompanied by informative texts. The exhibition was open to the public and was free of charge.
At this year’s watch trade fair in Geneva, 60 exclusive and rare chronometers from the Beyer Collection, spanning the period from 1550 until 1985, were on show. An exhibition catalogue containing spectacular photographs has been published and is on sale at the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum and major bookstores at a price of CHF 29.--.
The Beyer Clock and Watch Museum showed works by 16 members of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants, AHCI (Horological Academy of Independent Creators) from May 6th to June 6th 2014. This was a unique opportunity to admire the outstanding artistic talents of top independent watchmakers. The AHCI was founded in 1985 to provide a platform for watchmakers who create extraordinary handmade timepieces without being bound to any particular brand.
Some of the members of the AHCI attended the Annual General Meeting at the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum. The idea of an exhibition materialised in the course of a lively conversation with René Beyer. As a result, 16 independent watchmakers have been presenting their innovative designs at the Museum over the period of one month. Among the exhibitors are last year’s winners of the “Grand Prix d’horlogerie de Genève”, Kari Voutilainen, Vianney Halter and Philippe Dufour. Fascinating and unique creations such as a “Mysterieuse Tourbillon”, as well as unconventional works by Miki Eleta and one-of-a-kind watches designed by Vincent Calabrese have been presented.
Times have changed radically since the Beyer dynasty was founded. And with it, the instruments used to measure it. From 15 April until 30 October 2010, the Watch and Clock Museum Beyer was holding a varied exhibition presenting a foray though 250 years of watch-making history.
At the heart of the exhibition was a 12-minute picture projection, which illustrates in a particularly impressive way how the history of the Beyer family and the history of the Swiss watch have repeatedly instilled each other with life. It also relates the extraordinary circumstances that had led to Beyer Chronometrie this year being able to celebrate its 250th anniversary.
Special exhibition from 1 – 29 February 2008
Timepieces and the measurement of time are actually a serious matter, for each tick and each forward movement of the hands remind us of the transience of time and that we ought to make good use of it. But time measurement also has its playful side, and with this in mind, we searched through our storeroom for some objects that express this lighter aspect.
In the course of our search, all manner of astounding and delightful items came to light, which we presented in the form of a small exhibition within the framework of the “Museum of the Month” programme organised by the Association of Zurich Museums. This exhibition, entitled “Curios from Storeroom and Museum”, included imaginatively shaped housings, fancifully designed clock faces, various time-keeping objects, and clocks and watches that do more than just tell the time.
Loans to other museums
On loan to:
National Museum Zurich
In Search of Style
Duration: 23 March–15 July 2018
The special exhibition at the National Museum takes visitors on a journey through time exploring Europe and Switzerland in the second half of the 19th century. This was an age of rapid technological change and social upheaval. Through selected objects from the worlds of architecture, art and craft, the beholder can gain an insight into the various juxtapositions in style that marked a controversial era: specimen collections were built up, schools of arts and crafts were established and major cities began to take on the visual aspect we are familiar with today.
The object on loan:
Ten loaned watches and clocks from our Clock and Watch Museum
On loan to:
Free State of Bavaria, represented by the Bavarian State Ministry for Education, Science and the Arts – House of Bavarian History, Augsburg.
Knights, Peasants, Lutherans
Duration: 9 May–5 November 2017
Location: Coburg, Veste Coburg
Knights are fighting their last battles, peasants are rebelling, and the cities are beds of seething unrest. New ideas are being spread and centuries-old beliefs are cast into doubt.
The theme of “Religion, Fellowship, Confessions” examines, among other things, the history of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from the Diet of Augsburg of 1530 to the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. The astronomical instrument, featuring the Gregorian calendar on the inside of the cover, alludes to the calendar reform of 1582, which had such far-reaching consequences for Augsburg.
The object on loan:
Astronomical and geographical pocket instrument
ca. 1582, Augsburg, Germany, Christoph Schissler (1554–1609)
On loan to:
MIH, International Watchmaking Museum
The Neuchâtel Pendulum Clock: between Art and Mechanics
Duration: 6 May–8 October 2017
Location: MIH, Salle Hans Erni, 2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds
Opulent? Austere? Old-fashioned? Legendary? The so-called “Neuchâtel pendulum clock” adorns many apartments, sitting rooms and administrative offices far beyond the cantonal borders. The exhibition relates the history of the Neuchâtel pendulum clock from its beginnings in the 16th century until the present day.
The object on loan:
Neuchâtel pendule Louis XIV
ca. 1720, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, Josué Robert
On loan to:
Sasso San Gottardo, Airolo, Ticino
Kristall Wunderkammer (Crystal Chamber of Wonders)
Duration: 24 June–15 October 2017
Location: Gotthard Pass, “Theme World” room
Exhibition on the magic of rock crystals, their beauty and the art of transforming them into decorative objects and jewellery, both in the past and the present. The exhibition is held on the Gotthard Pass, deep down in the underground tunnels and caverns of the former Gotthard fortress, Sasso San Gottardo.
The object on loan:
Late Renaissance clock with rock crystal cover
ca. 1650, Vienna, Austria, Daniel Scheyrer (1582–1662)