Past tours

For more information about the history of the AHS Study Tour programme from its inception in 1957 to the 2016 tour, see Peter de Clercq, 'Sixty years of AHS study tours', in Antiquarian Horology, March 2018, 80–91.

2023: Italy

The group assembled on Saturday 20 May in Milan, arriving from the UK, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland and the USA. On arrival, we met our tour leader, Daniela Casa, who accompanied us all week. The group fell into the swing with a convivial joint dinner.

On Sunday 21 May we visited the Museo Poldi Pezzoli and the private collection of Antonio Lenner and his wife Franca. On Monday 22 May we saw the astronomical clock and the Museum of Art and Time at Clusone, before enjoying a guided tour of Bergamo. On Tuesday 23 May we took part in a guided tour of Cremona, then visited the astronomical clock. Later, we toured the Museo del Violino, then paid a visit to the master violin maker Philippe Devanneaux. On Wednesday 24 May, we were in Padua, where we were guided around the astronomical clock, then the Palazzo della Ragione. On Thursday 25 May, we went first to Treviso, then to see the clock tower in Chioggia. On Friday 26 May we visited Venice and St Mark’s clock tower.

That evening, we enjoyed our final dinner at Bella Venezia, a restaurant close to our hotel, where the group enjoyed a fun evening rounded off with the usual speeches, and a hearty thank you to our guide Daniela for such a good-humoured week.

Our journey home on Saturday, via Bologna airport, took us from Chioggia south into Emilia-Romagna, and to Ferrara, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we had the opportunity to stop for a few hours to take in another impressive town, dominated by its huge Castello Estense. On our return, for many it seemed as though a month had been crammed into a single week. Our significant thanks go to David and Jackie Brown for the enormous amount of co-ordination and fine tuning necessary to bring everything into land so smoothly.

An extensive and profusely illustrated report of the 2023 Study Tour can be found in Antiquarian Horology, September 2023, 412–427.

2022: Scotland

Our 2022 tour, from 8 May to 14/15 May, took us around Scotland. A considerable amount of networking was undertaken by the organisers to bring in a range of curators and experts to assist us with guiding and interpretation of the clocks and other treasures we saw. The boat trip to the Isle of Bute and our visit to Mount Stuart were a highlight, and access to other houses and collections was organised with help from a range of insiders and good friends that made each of these visits all the more special. Study Tours had been on hold over the 2020/2021 period, and this was an excellent comeback after a dry season!

2019: Austria

The 2019 tour, from 5 May to 12 May, was to Austria. Flying from Heathrow to Vienna, we visited the Geymüllerschlössel and, the following day, the Clock Museum and the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The tour then travelled by luxury coach to Salzburg via Graz, where visits included the Clock Tower and the Glockenspiel, and Steyr, where we visited the Schmollgruber Iron Clock Museum. A full report is here.

2016: North-West England

This year’s tour, from Monday 9 to Thursday 12 May, took us to Lyme Park and the surrounding area of North-West England, where we visited four National Trust houses, four museums and a private collection. A full and illustrated report of the tour is available here.

2015: Oxford area

This tour, our first UK tour, departed on Monday 14 September for four days (three nights). Visits included Snowshill Manor, the Ashmolean Museum, the Museum of the History of Science, Waddesdon Manor and Blenheim Palace. A full and illustrated report of the tour is available here.

2013: The Netherlands

This tour departed to the Netherlands on Monday 9 September for a period of eight days (seven nights). Visits included Edam (collection of Hans Van Den Ende); the museums in Leiden and Zaandam; the Gold and Silver Museum at Schoonhoven; Utrecht; and the Carillon Museum, Asten. Visits were also organised to Joure (Friesland) as well as Franeker and the Eise Eisinga Planetarium. Click here for a full and illustrated report of the trip from the pages of Antiquarian Horology.

2012: Germany

A group of over 30 members of the AHS visited Munich and Nuremberg to study clocks and watches. Click here for a full and illustrated report of the trip from the pages of Antiquarian Horology.

2011: Russia

We spent the first four nights in St Petersburg staying at the very central Hotel Dostoevsky, and then went by overnight train to Moscow for a further two nights where we stayed slightly outside the City at the Hotel Kosmos, close to the Olympic Village.

This was somewhat ‘lighter’ than our usual Study Tours as the arrangements had been an interesting challenge for the organiser. Nevertheless everyone enjoyed it, seeing something of both cities which was new to most, and a backdrop to what we saw in terms of clocks and watches at the various palaces.

In St Petersburg we started with a full-day city tour, and the next day we headed out into the countryside to visit the Pavlosk Palace, Pushkin, the Catherine Palace and the Alexander Palace. On Thursday, we had our arranged visit to the Hermitage where we met up with Mr Mikhail Gouriev who had assisted with many of the arrangements for our visit. Unfortunately a planned visit to the Curator’s room proved impossible, but there was more than enough to see. Mr Gouriev kindly demonstrated the famous Peacock Clock which has been well documented in Antiquarian Horology (June 2005). Our tour organiser presented him with an AHS paperweight to commemorate our visit, and Michael Applebee presented him with a publication on Dr John Taylor’s Corpus Christi Chronophage. Some of us were able to see the Hermitage turret clock. Later, at the Peter and Paul Fortress, Mikhail had arranged for the group to go up inside the turret clock.

On the last day in St Petersburg we visited the Peterhof Palace built by Peter the Great overlooking the Baltic Sea, where we saw some interesting clocks which Mikhail also oversees.

Mikhail kindly put the group in touch with Dmitry Troshin at the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow, where our visit became a highlight of the tour. Dmitry had arranged for us to meet many of his colleagues with an interest in Horology. Many had brought items of interest for our members to see, in addition to the exhibits devoted to the history of time which are set up in a very large room. We were provided with a catalogue of the collection, signed by the author, and were given a most interesting lecture on the mystery clock. It was a truly memorable afternoon.

Dmitry had also arranged for us to go up inside the Telegraph building. A really excellent day and one which such Study Tours should be made of. The Society is extremely grateful to Dmitry for all his hard work on our behalf to make this happen and to Mikhail for his kind introduction. Our last day in Moscow was a full day City Tour followed by the ‘farewell’ dinner.

2010: Germany

A group of 22 members of the AHS visited Dresden and Berlin to study clocks and watches.

2009: Austria, Slovakia and Hungary

A group of 38 members of the AHS visited Vienna and Budapest to study clocks and watches. A full and illustrated report of the trip was published in the December 2009 issue of Antiquarian Horology.

2008: Switzerland

The group met up at Geneva Airport and travelled by coach to the Hotel de la Rose in the heart of the medieval city of Fribourg, which was to be our base for the next six nights. Prior to dinner that evening Antoine Simonin, a well-known expert in the Swiss Watch Industry, gave us a talk on the history of Swiss watchmaking.

Early on Friday morning we set off by coach for Geneva to visit the Museum of Art and History. Antoine Simonin had stayed in Fribourg overnight as he had arranged for us to visit the temporary exhibition 'Ten Swiss Watch-Making Schools: Masterpieces of Expertise'. He kindly accompanied us but also provided us with a personal guided tour and detailed explanations of the exhibits. These were arranged with a showcase for each school and the pieces ranged from simple timepieces up to tourbillon, chronograph and repeating watches.

After lunch, a visit was made to the magnificent Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, where we saw important collections of horology - watches, musical automata and portrait miniatures together with enamelling of Genevan, Swiss and European origins from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. Among the many fabulous items, the ornamental pistol with singing bird and watch by Rochat drew much admiration from the group. It was particularly well displayed with an animation by John Redfern showing the mechanism in action. We were particularly amazed by the complicated watches. The Graves watch with its twenty-four complications prepared us to examine the Calibre 89; the world's most complicated watch, with thirty-three complications. It was displayed in a showcase with the sub assemblies arranged around the slowly rotating watch.

On Saturday 11 October, a visit was made to the horological museum, Musee International d'Horlogerie at La Chaux-de-Fonds. This museum contains examples of all forms of clock and watch making and therefore must be visited on any horological tour of Switzerland. In the afternoon we travelled to the nearby town of Le Locle to visit the Musee d'Horlogerie du Locle, housed in the eighteenth century Chateau des Monts, with a large collection of clocks, watches and automata. Many of the exhibits have been manufactured in the surrounding area.

On Sunday 12 October, a visit was made in the morning to the Gewerbemuseum in Winterthur. We were warmly welcomed by the Curator, Brigitte Vinzens who had kindly invited us. She was most enthusiastic showing us around the museum and her very well equipped restoration workshop. Highlights of the collection were the sixteenth and seventeenth century iron clocks by the Liechti family. Also of note was a Hipp one-second pendulum precision regulator.

After lunch we travelled to Basel to visit the Haus zum Kirschgarten, a lifestyle museum with an internationally famous collection of clocks and watches. We met with John Joseph who provided us with an excellent tour. He was extremely informative in explaining the finer points of the collection. The highlight of this visit was seeing the Huber-Mudge prototype chronometer.

On Monday 13 October, we went into Neuchatel to the art and history museum for a private demonstration of the incredible Jacquet Droz automatons of the Scribe, the Draftsman and the Musician. This comprehensive demonstration was given by one of the craftsmen who maintain these wonderful automata on a regular basis. Demonstrations can be arranged on request for groups of five persons. Antoine Simonin kindly accompanied us again and provided us with a full translation.

After lunch Mr Simonin accompanied us to Villers Le Lac, just inside France, to visit the Musee de La Montre. We were welcomed by M. Yves Droz and given a guided tour. Here we saw machinery for the manufacture of the cylinder escapement displayed in sequence so that all the stages in making both cylinders and escape wheels were shown.

On Tuesday 14 October, we travelled to Le Sentier, in the beautiful Vallee de Joux, the home of horological complications. The group was divided into two, one group visiting Jaeger-LeCoultre watch manufacturer in the morning and the Audemars Piguet Museum in the afternoon.

We were welcomed at Jaeger-LeCoultre by our guide Sebastian Vivas who gave us a conducted tour of the museum. The museum today is housed in the 'Grande Maison' Antoine LeCoultre founded in 1833. The new museum which is on two floors has a stunning display of hundreds of different watch movements displayed in showcases hanging one above the other between two glass plates. Among the exhibits are watches from the early production years up to the present day to illustrate the development of the company. One highlight was a triple tourbillon watch in current production.

The two groups met up for lunch in a restaurant overlooking the beautiful Lac de Joux and then exchanged venues.

At the Audemars Piguet Museum, we were given a warm welcome and guided tour by Mr Martin Wehrli. He treated us to a very a comprehensive tour of the museum. Again a wide range of past and present production was beautifully displayed - repeaters for instance having a recording of the chime played by pushing a button near the watch. The workers work flexitime and we were, therefore, allowed to enter the workshop where the grand complication watches are assembled and see the work in progress. We were told it takes one man a whole year to assemble and finish one of these very complicated watches.

Wednesday 15 October was sadly our last day, with the morning free to explore the lovely medieval town of Fribourg before departing for Geneva Airport for our various flights home.

2007: Italy

2001: The Netherlands

2000: Vienna

1999: Swiss-French border

1988: Scotland

1987: Wales

1986: The Netherlands

1985: The North Country

1984: Vienna

1982: France

1980: The Netherlands

1975: The West Country

1973: Italy

1971: West Germany, Austria and Switzerland

1969: Denmark and Sweden

1967: The Netherlands, Belgium and Northern Germany

1965: France

1963: Northern Italy and Switzerland

1961: Austria

1959: Germany

1957: Switzerland