Beyer Chronometrie AG

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 instruments.

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