A Journey Through Time: The Clock and Watch Museum, Winterthur

Jun/18/2022 / by Rashmi Gopal Rao

Located just about 25 km from Zurich in Switzerland is the idyllic city of Winterthur.  Like most Swiss cities, Winterthur is replete with a charming old town, quaint cafes and fascinating water fountains.   Situated right in the middle of the enchanting old town is the interesting Clock and Watch Museum.  Also called Uhrenmuseum, this one is a must visit for all clock aficionados and takes you on an engaging journey quite literally through time.  

The entire collection of timepieces in this museum is organized into two major collections: the Konrad Kellenberger Clock and Watch Collection and the Oscar Schwank Watch Collection. The museum houses a rich collection of time instruments, watches, timepieces, pocket watches and calendars that date back as early as the 15th century. A haven for timepiece lovers and enthusiasts, the collection boasts of several rare and unique pieces and forms for a truly insightful visit. While the Kellenberger watch collection was inaugurated in Winterthur’s Kirchplatz in 1999, the Oscar Schwank which is known for its unique pocket watches has been open for public since 2012.


Konrad Kellenberger Collection

Named after Konrad Kellenberger (1907–1976) who had a passion for horology, this one is a collection of international repute. Kellenberger not only collected watches and clocks but also restored them during his tenure as a precision mechanic at Winterthur’s College of Technology. The collection displayed here is truly awe inspiring and consists of 17th – 19th century Swiss wooden wheel clocks, ornate and heritage pieces from the Renaissance era as well as iron house clocks owned by the Liechti family of Winterthur that date to the 15th to the 17th centuries. One piece that is not to be missed is the 1600 A D monstrance clock made in Augsburg. The display of the watch mechanics and machinery of the yesteryears as well as ancient instruments used to observe the sky apart from the first electric time measuring gadgets form for an immersive experience.


Oscar Schwank Collection

Born in 1937, Schwank owned a watch shop in Zurich and was an avid collector of rare watches. Known for his love for pocket watches, Oscar Schwank had built up a remarkable collection of these masterpieces which have been displayed in Winterthur since 2012. This section of the museum is a treasure house of pocket watches which are not only known for their precision and accuracy but also their artistic and aesthetic design. From rare pieces that belong to the era of the French Revolution to watches studded with crystals and gemstones, the collection is exquisite to say the least.  The evolution of pocket watches from being basic instruments to view time to elaborate bejewelled pieces that were symbolic of status and wealth is depicted in the museum.  With over 200 pieces on display, the collection has been curated with great deliberation and is a haven for all watch lovers.  Do not miss some unusual pieces that are integrated with musical fittings and some with automatons.  Most of these portable time pieces date from the 16th -20th century.  While here, the rare, limited edition 1925 pocket watch with tourbillon from the firm of Patek Philippe is not to be missed.

All images courtesy of the author