A visit with Paul Gerber, Zurich

 By: AndrewD : May 7th, 2013-05:43

Visiting the Gerber Atelier in Zurich provides a glimpse into what watchmaking must have been like 200 years ago in Switzerland: a workshop within the family home, all the design and innovations built and tested in-house and the majority of parts being made in-house with a few specialist components (such as case and hairspring) being produced by specialist manufactures. Even the dials are made and engraved or guilloched in-house before being sent to a dial printer. 

I was made to feel like part of the family when I visited Paul and Ruth's Atelier last October. The horological gods were smiling down on the trip because I had beautiful sunshine and clear skies when it had been raining heavily the week before. And it was fantastic to have a glimpse into the life of a small independent watchmaker. My German is non-existent but we were able to converse for hours with some help from Google Translate and a lot of pointing and laughter.

Paul's cars (he has always owned Fiat's and his Fiat 600 from 1962 is immortalized on the seconds hand of a Model 42) are parked in front of the house because his garage is full of CNC machines – in fact he was excited when the house heating was converted from oil to natural gas because the space where the oil was stored became available for more equipment!

Witech 604 CNC vertical milling machine. The dials, amongst other components, are produced here ...

Paul has three watchmakers working with him: two apprentices and one experienced watchmaker who have been with Paul for four years. In fact several watchmakers have now been trained by Paul and will be able to provide service for his watches for years to come. [In fact some of these watchmakers now work for Urwerk whose manufacture is based in Zurich and Felix Baumgartner spoke very highly of their skill.]

The welcome mat ...

The 'garage' ...

Even the floor drains have Paul's personal touch ...

The Gerber Atelier ...

That's my Model 42 getting a 'makeover'. More of that story to follow ...

Something happening on every work bench ...

The Schaublin 70, the classic toolmakers lathe, started life in the 1920's and oozes history ...

Wheels are made in-house ...

Cutting teeth on the Aciera milling machine ...

Not Paul's morning coffee ... for bluing screws ...

The Gerber Retro Twin Ref. 155 in YG ...

The Pendulet ...

Gold is recyled ...

Assembly ...

Signature oscilating weights ...

Paul at his desk ...

Reference books and horological history ...

Ideas for new dial designs ...

Future quantieme perpetual calendar ...

Clocks of all sizes. Crack in the wall? Must be heavy!

Saying goodbye to Paul and Ruth. A wonderful day and I hope to be back soon.


Thanks AndrewD, another great post. [nt]

 By: tick tock doctor : May 7th, 2013-06:03
No message body

Wonderful tour!

 By: KIH : May 7th, 2013-06:50
..and thank you for that, Andrew!


Thanks for taking us with you

 By: Bill : May 7th, 2013-11:45
I remember him well at IGOTT2.  Such a kind and soft spoken gentleman.

A real artist in every sense of the word.

Bravo Mr. Gerber.



A true humble artist ...

 By: AndrewD : May 7th, 2013-16:13

Paul has done so much work for other manufactures, but much of this is unknown. Even when I visited he showed me mechanical goodies he was creating for others, but these must be kept secret. Perhaps one day the information will get out.

But he reserves a special place for his own creations, be they watches, clocks or novel escapements. An unassuming horological hero.


Really amazing to see,

 By: Hulk : May 7th, 2013-11:45

thanks for the report.  Definitely makes you appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a "hand made" piece, and I would class this as hand made in house compared to others.  In comparison to the big names that "pump out" pieces with no soul, and I'm one of those that bought many of these, I will think twice next time.  

Thanks to PG for letting us see it all.



Getting up close with independent watchmakers ...

 By: AndrewD : May 7th, 2013-16:18

Thanks for your comments, Steve. Getting up close with the independent watchmakers, feeling their passion for the work, understanding the creative process a little better, does make you question the mass produced and widely promoted watches. Why the heck do we buy watches promoted by sports stars and other celebrities? In most cases they are given watches by the companies and paid to wear them. It is the independent artisans that are the true horological celebrities, and we should support them.


Exquisite treat

 By: Ares501 - Mr Green : May 7th, 2013-12:26
from manufactory of  Dr.Daley
Bravo & thank you
This message has been edited by Ares501 on 2013-05-07 12:26:50

I will leave the manufacturing to the experts ...

 By: AndrewD : May 7th, 2013-16:21

... and marvel from afar. But I am pleased you enjoyed the visit to the Gerber Atelier. I have shown you the Model 33 already, but will revisit Paul's workshop with some of the other pieces he produces. Stay glued to the forum.


really nice tour. from what I can recall from the IGOTT, Paul..

 By: Ronald Held : May 7th, 2013-14:40
Is a gentleman and craftsman.

Atelier tour

 By: SteveR : May 8th, 2013-05:15
Absolutely lovely to see! No other words for it!  Thank you!

You might also enjoy ...

 By: AndrewD : May 9th, 2013-18:36

... this post on the Model 33: will revisit Paul's Atelier and focus on some of his other watches, the MIH, Model 41, Model 42 and some clocks.

Paul is an unsung genius and a nice guy.


Wonderful post..

 By: Ophiuchus : May 12th, 2013-18:31
I always love seeing stuff with the Gerber workshop. It's nice to see such a prolific independent giving an unfettered
view of the shop, and work in progress.

I hope I can meet Paul someday, and hopefully take one of those model 42s off his hands. If I were to buy one watch
in life, it would be one of his. It would be a dream to work for him, those 3 watchmakers are lucky indeed!

Paul is a great teacher ...

 By: AndrewD : May 13th, 2013-04:58

I was wearing the F.P.Journe Dead Second Tourbillon when I visited his Atelier (don't worry, I had the Gerber P10 Model 42 on my other wrist) and Paul spent time showing his apprentices how it worked. I wish I could have understood German to know what they were discussing, but the passion for watchmaking and teaching was obvious. 

Of course, Paul has his own switchable jump second design available as an option for the Model 41.

I'm certain Paul would be pleased to hear your appreciation of his watchmaking.



A visit with Paul Gerber, Zurich

 By: Rubar : June 1st, 2013-13:38
Wonderful review! As I understand the accuracy of the Model 42 is not worse than that of ETA-2824-2 smile. What are the accuracy of Model 41 and 33?