In 1944, Hans Hilfiker, a Swiss Engineer and Designer and employee of the Federal Swiss Railways, created a clock which has become known as the “Official Swiss Railways Clock”. For design buffs and railway enthusiasts alike, this clock remains a simple and ever-present pleasure of every Swiss rail journey.

In 1986 the Montaigne Watch Company, with official license from the Federal Swiss Railways, turned it into a watch collection. It has become a true Swiss icon. The simple design, the unmistakable easy-to-read face, distinctive hands and the famous red seconds hand have made the Mondaine collection successful the world over. Ingenuity and simplicity are the elements which often distinguish an attractive piece of design from a truly iconic design classic. With strong black markings instead of numerals, each five minute increment given further emphasis and a sweeping second hand in red it is so visually simple that a train guard can read it easily from the far end of a train.

If you look closely you see that the solid red circle at the end of the second hand not only resembles a pendulum but is also a replica of the signalling paddle once used by station guards.

I knew nothing of this history until walking the streets of Zurich where, as we looked at the display in a jewellery shop window, Erika told me the story of the watch design.  It was not the time to make a purchase but it certainly gave me food for thought.

I am now enjoying wearing a Mondaine watch and am delighted with its clarity. The background story and the memories from my visit to Switzerland are renewed each day.


WEDNESDAY, 21st June

Today was another train day with further use of our Eurail Pass. It is a pleasure travelling First Class with a seat reservation as we know exactly which carriage number to look out for as the train pulls into the station and also know just which seats are ours. It is always a bit of a challenge getting our cases on board as there can be a few steps to negotiate – sometimes a kind gentleman comes to our aid and we are very thankful. We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Zach in Innsbruck, a family owned hotel with a most helpful staff.

Our arrival in Salzburg was delayed by seventeen minutes due to work being done on the tracks, but we had checked into our hotel by midday and were soon on our way towards the the city centre.

A LITTLE ABOUT SALZBURG – literally “Salt Fortress”.   It is the fourth largest city in Austria. Salzburg’s Old Town (Alstadt) is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture and is one of the best preserved city centres north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. The city has three universities and a large population of students. Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th century composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is on the border of Germany with views of the Eastern Alps. The city is divided by the Salzach River with medieval and baroque buildings of the pedestrian Old City on its left bank facing the 19th century Neustadt (New City) on its right.

More than 300,000 “Sound of Music Fans” come to this city every year so as to walk in the footsteps of the Von Trapp family. The Sound of Music was filmed in 1964. In the film Maria and the children dance around the Pegasus Fountain in front of the Palace singing Do Re Mi.

In 2007 I had the privilege of holidaying in Europe with my eldest granddaughter who was then SIXTEEN GOING ON SEVENTEEN and I have now relived that happy occasion.