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California - Fine watch making freelancer

How Urs Ryser made it from Bienne, Switzerland to Kentfield, California

Extracts from an article by Katja Schaer
Born in 1961, Urs Ryser comes from Bienne. A watch making capital where he spent all his school years, including four years at the Technicum, in the micro technical section. It was there that he discovered the art of watch making, a bit by accident.
With his diploma under his belt and just turned 20, Urs Ryser entered the job market. Rado, in Langnau, hired him as a repairer but he was dying to be elsewhere. So, at the age of 23 the young man risked all and settled California. That was in 1984. He’s still in the region more than twenty years later. In 1993 he decided to start his own little company situated in Kentfield, still in the same region, barely an hour from San Francisco.
There were many difficulties. Urs Ryser was aware of the growing competition from service centers for major brands. “It was hard” he says, “because it became increasingly difficult to obtain spare parts.”

Urs Ryser in his atelier. Here he creates new watches and repairs models like Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe or Cartier

This is why Urs Ryser chose to create his own watches, a way of getting by while keeping his independence. “And also to have fun because I like creating my own complications.” He specializes in gold and silver models, the crafting of which doesn’t require sophisticated machines. Pieces traditionally bear the name of the person that makes them and the place where they are manufactured. That‘s why his watches are called Ryser Kentfield. Putting the name of a small California town on products made by a Swiss professional pleases him.
However the aim of Urs Ryser’s watches, which sell for between 1,200 and 12,000 dollars for a diamond model, isn’t to rival the prestige of the big names. Furthermore, the watchmaker still works on top name models like Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe or Cartier, which are part of his everyday life. “My pieces are a way of ensuring a basic income by doing what I love. And they allow me to remain independent, although the situation of small watchmakers has become a challenge.”

Beautiful example of a Ryser Kentfield watch by Urs Ryser

Urs Ryser can be reached at:
Swiss Timepieces
929 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. # 204
Kentfield CA 94904 USA
Tel: 415-381-1081
Fax 415 381-1081
Check out his very nice web-site:  

February 2008


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