Special exhibitions and external collections

Take a trip back in time: browse our archive of past special exhibitions of the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum.

Special exhibitions

Special Exhibition "TRAVEL THROUGH TIME"

Time measurement and mobility have always been closely linked. In the early days, journeys were often unpredictable and arduous. It was particularly important that the fall of darkness did not take travellers by surprise or that they did not miss their onward connections when using a means of transport. Taking reliable time-measuring instruments with them increased safety and even allowed them to determine their location on sea voyages. In turn, the introduction of the railway played a key role in the creation of time zones.

The collection of the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum encompasses a large number of timepieces that were used for travelling. In this special exhibition, we present a selection spanning over 370 years and take you on a journey through time

“ArtWorks” special exhibition

“ArtWorks” presents the work of six independent Swiss watchmakers. Finished works, including sketches, ideas and visions, by Dominique Buser, Cyrano Devanthey, Felix Baumgartner, Miki Eleta, Julian Kägi and Kari Voutilainen show their very personal perspective of the job of a modern-day watchmaker and give insight into the time-consuming processes. 

Special exhibition from 17 June 2019 to 27 September 2019

“Icons of time”

150 years of IWC – an exhibition in the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum: Our two companies have worked together for 130 years; we were the first authorised IWC retailer in Zurich. It is therefore no coincidence that, to mark the 150th anniversary of IWC Schaffhausen, the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum is showcasing more than 50 rare and beautiful watches and items made by the International Watch Company. The exhibition tells the story of the watchmaker from Eastern Switzerland through carefully curated vintage treasures and fascinating horological innovations. The icons of time include the early Pallweber pocket watch with a mechanical digital display, and the oldest Portugieser wristwatch in existence. The exhibition also features numerous IWC Pilot’s and Ingenieur watches from different eras, various artefacts and insights into materials and designs of the future. 

The exhibition took place from 2 July 2018 to 21 September 2018.

“Chronograph – over the course of time, 1913–1983”

The exhibition “Chronograph – over the course of time, 1913–1983” by Sébastien Chaulmontet took place in the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum from 3 July 2017 to 20 October 2017.

“Precious time”

The exhibition “Precious time” took place from 13 June 2016 to 23 September 2016. 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. Their works were paired with specially selected objects at the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum, which in turn told their own story of precious time.

Our time is slipping away, we experience revolutionary or turbulent periods, steal some time away to enjoy a secret tryst or find we are barking up the wrong tree. The exhibits played with these associations. For example, the marine chronometer, which was used from the middle of the eighteenth century to help transport human cargo and valuable goods safely across the oceans even when it was stormy; or Semjon Iwanowitsch Bronnikov, who laboured for seven years in order to craft a watch entirely from wood. His contemporaries worried he was not in his right mind and even had him admitted to hospital. Obviously, the time was not yet ripe for him.

“Creative watchmakers”

The exhibition “Creative watchmakers”, hosted by the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum from 6 May 2014 to 6 June 2014, presented the works of 16 members of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI). It was a unique opportunity to admire the artistic talents of top independent watchmakers. The AHCI was founded in 1985 to provide a platform for watchmakers who create extraordinary 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 a joint exhibition materialised in the course of a lively conversation with René Beyer. As a result, 16 independent watchmakers presented their innovative designs at the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum over a month. Among the exhibitors were the 2013 winners of the “Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève”, Kari Voutilainen, Vianney Halter and Philippe Dufour. Fascinating and unique creations such as the Mystérieuse Tourbillon as well as unconventional pieces by Miki Eleta and one-of-a-kind wristwatches designed by Vincent Calabrese were also showcased.

Beyer Clock and Watch Museum on Paradeplatz square

From 9 May 2011 to 5 June 2011, our museum presented its successful exhibition from the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) trade show in Geneva at the atrium of the Credit Suisse building on Paradeplatz square in Zurich. It was a highly informative, illustrated exhibition that was open to the public free of charge.

At the exhibition in Geneva, 60 exclusive and rare chronometers from the Beyer Collection were showcased, spanning the period from 1550 until 1985. An exhibition catalogue, “Treasures”, can be purchased from the shop of the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum.

250 years of Beyer Chronometrie AG

Times have changed dramatically since the Beyer dynasty was founded, and so have the instruments that measure time itself, too. From 15 April 2010 to 30 October 2010, the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum presented a varied and entertaining journey through 250 years of watchmaking history.

The centrepiece of the exhibition was a 12-minute projection of images highlighting the symbiotic relationship between the history of Beyer and the history of Swiss watchmaking. It also depicted the extraordinary set of circumstances that led to Beyer Chronometrie AG being able to celebrate its 250th anniversary this year.


Capturing time – but how? The first attempts at the end of the eighteenth century brought little success: at the touch of a button, the whole piece stopped, so the time was no longer accurate. This was followed by lavishly decorated timepieces with a third hand that marked the enamel dial with ink to show how much time had elapsed. The first true chronograph was created in 1862. It had a hand that stopped on the dial and could be returned to the starting point.

More than 50 unique chronographs from the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum’s collection were presented to the public, some for the very first time. These included incredibly complicated watches with a stop function as well as simple stopwatches. Beyer was particularly proud of the lavishly decorated IWC Da Vinci wrist chronograph, the precious pocket watch chronographs from around 1900, and two of the exceptionally rare ink chronographs from the nineteenth century.

Special exhibition from 19 March 2009 to 30 April 2009


Timepieces and the measurement of time are 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 horology also has its playful side, and with this in mind, we searched through our storeroom and museum for objects that express this.

In the course of our search, we uncovered all manner of astounding and delightful items. As part of the Museum of the Month campaign organised by the Zurich Museums Association, we put together an exhibition showcasing these curios from the storeroom and museum. It included creatively shaped cases, highly original dials, various time display objects, and clocks and watches that boast more functions than “just” telling the time.

Special exhibition from 1 to 29 February 2008

Beyer’s external collections

In addition to the Clock and Watch Museum, Beyer has established two external collections: the Annette Beyer Automata Collection and the Electronics Museum. Connoisseurs can visit these exhibitions by prior appointment.

Annette Beyer Automata Collection

Annette Beyer has spent many years putting together an exceptional collection of doll automata. 

Electronics Museum

In 2006, the Beyer Clock and Watch Museum opened a “Electronic clocks and watches” section.