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Aimée Smith, 08 February, 2018
It's no secret that the Swiss are one of the world's most punctual nations, but then they do have a rather ingenious device to help keep things to schedule...

The mighty Swiss Travel System is one of the finest – and densest – public transport networks in the world: with over 29,000km of routes, no tiny village or remote valley is beyond its reach. It is also incredibly reliable, so whether you’re burrowing through the Eiger’s rocky interior on Europe’s highest cog railway, climbing high above lush alpine meadows in a panoramic cable car, or gliding through the serene waters of one of the great Swiss lakes on an historic paddle steamer, you can be sure everything will run like clockwork.

The country's reputation for punctuality is well established, but did you know that the Swiss have a rather handy device which helps keep things to schedule? In 1944, railway employee Hans Hilfiker designed a simple yet ingenious station clock that is now one of the world's most recognisable timepieces. The iconic red second hand – shaped like a signalling paddle – was added later. Requiring only 58.5 seconds to circle the face, it pauses briefly on the minute until an electric impulse from a central ‘master’ clock prompts it to continue, thus ensuring all Swiss trains run in perfect synchronisation.

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