If you wander down Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich's famous shopping street,
there's at least a half-dozen watch retailers specializing in
high-end watches. However, I've got my sights set on one in particular;
Beyer Chronometrie, Switzerland's oldest watch retailer. How
many other watch stores can trace their roots back to 1760, contain
an on-site watch museum and, be the first authorized dealer of
Patek Philippe watches?
Walking into the store I find a salesperson and explain what
I do and how I sent a letter of introduction a month earlier
to CEO Rene Beyer, the seventh generation family member to run
the company. It's a five-story building with the company occupying
three levels. Beyer's secretary appears and says he isn't in
and she knows nothing about the letter. But, it works out fine
thanks to Markus Baumgartner, the obliging store manager, who
agrees to answer questions.
Thirty-two people work here. Employees are on their own as far
as finding parking spots, smoking isn't allowed in the workplace,
there's a break room, a formal dress code and, it's five minutes
to the nearest freeway. Any unusual employee perks? After working
here for a year employees have the opportunity to purchase a
watch at a special price.
CEO Beyer occupies a second floor corner office. I count six
clocks, one flower (real) and four framed photos of America's
Cup action (sailing). The view out his window? The shops and
passing pedestrians on Bahnhofstrasse.
Chronometrie Beyer has been located on this site since 1927.
During the 1960's, when basement shops were forbidden in the
city of Zurich, the business premises were enlarged. This opened
up a big space in the basement and that gave Theodor Beyer (the
now deceased father of Rene Beyer) the idea to open his private
collection to the public. It's formal name is the Clock and Watch
Museum Beyer Zurich and was unveiled in 1970 . It's quite an
impressive collection of antique watches, clocks and technical
Company website: www.beyer-ch.com