Paul Gerber - Watchmaker in Zürich

Mar 21, 2011,13:00 PM

Paul Gerber - Watchmaker in Zürich

Magnus recently previewed for us some of Paul Gerbers newest watches that bring us independent flair at very reasonable prices, the Model 42 in the varients Synchron and Pilot.  Click here to see Magnus' report.  These watches use a modern ETA movement modified by Paul to have a larger date wheel and his patented multiple weight automatic winding system.  This in a sporty sleek titanium case makes a very attractive watch at a great price point.

Paul Gerber is one of those names that anyone a little interested in modern watchmakers will sooner or later hear.  He still holds the record for the watch with the most components and has been involved in many of the more interesting recent new watch projects.  Let's just mention for example the MIH watch or the Ochs and Jr watches from Ludwig Oechslin.  For these watches Ludwig Oechslin has provided the ideas and Paul has created working watches from Ludwigs not always very practicle ideas.  Paul is also assuring the production of these pieces.

Let's meet Paul Gerber and look around a little in his shop. Here is Paul in front of his workbench.

Considering the number of watches he produces Pauls shop on the ground floor of his house in Zürich seems very small.  An office, a watchmakers shop and his garage which houses his milling machines, bead plasting and other less clean work.   The pieces in progress are witness to the many different watches made here.  Here some movement plates.

The watchmakers shop has the typical watchmakers machines such as 2 Schaublin 70 lathes and an Aciera milling machine.  Both are long time favorites for watchmakers.

On the workbench for his watchmaker we see parts that are being decorated, here with black polishing and beveling.

The decoration of the movement rings for the new watches is being done on a hand spotting machine.

On the desk two other Gerber products, the worlds smallest wooden clock and a Gerber desk clock.

The Model 42 Pilot watch now has top billing and Paul has thought of some interesting customisations.

These are all custom seconds hands.

Paul is going to install one on a watch to let us see how it looks.  He conveniently has a watch without a crystal on his bench to show us this.

Removing the existing second hand.

Installing the paraglider second hand.

Here we see two thirds of the Paul Gerber team, Paul and his wife Ruth.  It is amaising that such a small team can produce so many watches.  Even just considering the MIH watches which he produces we are talking about nearly 5 watches a week.

Now on to some other Paul Gerber models.  The Model 41 with 100 hours power reserve and the typical Paul Gerber open pear hands.

The Retro twin with retrograde seconds and two syncronous winding rotors, I think this was the first Paul Gerber watch that caught my attention.

The Model 41 in a gold case.

The Model 33 with its form movement and the Paul Gerber escapement.  This escapement separates the locking and impulse functions somewhat like a chronometer escapement.  The locking is done by the two outer pallets, the middle pallet giving the impulse on every other half oscillation of the balance wheel.  Note the very fine high end decoration on this movement.  To cover the whole range of watchloving desire Paul does the decoration commenserate to the price point among his different models.

On the computer and using an enlarged model Pauls explains to us how his escapement works.  The big advantge is the elimination of sliding movement to impart the energy during the impulse as in a Swiss anchor escapement.  At the time he announced this escapement there was much opinion deriding it for having impulse on only every other half oscillation instead of every half oscillation as a Swiss anchor escapement does.  Practically, Paul says he has seen none of the predicted problems such as the watches stopping when being worn.  Theoretically the balance is being disturbed less often in its oscillation so it should be more accurate.  In any case Paul has now been joined by several other manufacturers such as JLC in making such chronometer influenced escapements and the negative noise has stopped.

A large portion of the parts production is also done here in the workshop.  We see a precision milling machine of Pauls own construction and a modern industrial milling machine with automatic tool changer that Paul recently acquired.  Although it has a longer setup time getting all the tools ready in the changer the automatic tool changer with up to 20 tools is a big timesaver.  It is not necessary to attend the machine while it is working to change tools manually.  It can be set in motion and will tend to itself until the part is done.

As we finish up our visit I notice the waste bin full of brass scraps.  In these days of rising material prices even brass now has a scrap value.  Especially as in watchmaking we produce much more scrap than metal is actually in the products.

I would like to thank Paul and Ruth Gerber for their kind reception and wish then success with their new models.


This message has been edited by DonCorson on 2011-03-21 13:02:51

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Great post!! Where can you buy these watches....

 By: mcio2 : March 21st, 2011-14:21
A quick google search didn't return a website for him.

I PMed you [nt]

 By: DonCorson : March 21st, 2011-14:41
No message body

Thanks for the wonderful post

 By: flamenco : March 21st, 2011-22:00
Can you clue me in as well, please. I am terribly smittened !! Many Thanks in advance.


 By: Ornatus-Mundi : March 22nd, 2011-00:42
if I google 'Paul Gerber' its the first hit... Best, Magnus

That's because you live in a German speaking country.....

 By: DonCorson : March 22nd, 2011-12:08
at least in the US non-english URLs and websites start coming many pages down the Google list. I assume it is the same in other countries too. Don

Hoping this means

 By: CaliforniaJed : March 27th, 2011-10:38
...what I hope this means!

Very fun post!

 By: sklim8 : March 21st, 2011-21:53
Always fun to see the inner workings of a master's workshop

Excellent post

 By: grigo : March 21st, 2011-23:22
Magnus had already done a great job presenting Paul Gerber, but this post really goes over the top. Any sort of competition going on between you two? Best regards, George

Always, always, the Purists team...

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : March 22nd, 2011-00:44
is in eternal fight amongst itself for public recognition. You should see us in Basel... horrible ;-)! Honestly, we discussed beforehand how to split the works. And I have more stuff to come... strike! Cheers, Magnus

I look forward to the new stuff as you call it.

 By: grigo : March 22nd, 2011-04:51
Nothing wrong with a little friendly competition from where I come from. Best regards, George

As the 42 is based on the ETA 2824-2 and only minimally modified

 By: RJW : March 22nd, 2011-01:10
Does Paul recommend watch servicing be done by him? Or does he freely recommend any competent watchmaker may service it? Thanks for the interesting post. Regards, Richard.

As always Don

 By: aldossari_faisal : March 22nd, 2011-07:05
love your posts, its amazing to combine the soul of a Masterwatch maker and the non fading Fun and joy of the soul.. one of the special things about Paul Gerber... Like the new watches and at that price from an indipendent thats Competative. Faisal

Interesting look at a small operation

 By: SJX : March 22nd, 2011-08:41
Thanks Don. - SJX

Nice post Don!

 By: Davo : March 22nd, 2011-13:56
Thanks for sharing,

Great report!

 By: RobCH : March 25th, 2011-07:50
Thanks, Don. Strengthened my resolved to buy a PG one day...

Love it!

 By: ingmar : September 8th, 2011-22:14
I just love these kind of behind the scenes posts. While I like macro or "in the field" or technical, these complete overviews are a real joy to read- even when my interest is minimal. Of course that's not usually he case by the end and the Model 41 is a ...