How I found my way to SWISS PRECISION

Turntables have been with me since my childhood. My grandfather Hugo Bung (1884-1967) was the managing director and partner of a watch factory in St. Georgen in the Black Forest, the centre of the German phono industry. I enjoyed frequent visits to my grandparents’ house “Villa Bung”. On my way from the station to their house I past-by the factory of Perpetuum-Ebner, who next to Dual was the second largest manufacturer of turntables in St. Georgen. It must have been here that I found my deep passion for turntables.

Villa Bung, located in St. Georgen, Black Forest, in 1925

I already owned a Thorens TD124 as a student, but gave this up because the turntable in the simple plinth tended to rumble . I later deeply regretted this decision. As an audiophile and fan of old records, even then, I was totally enthusiastic about the nostalgic appearance of the TD124 with its barrel-shaped chassis, kidney-shaped operation field, and “industrial grey” colour – not to mention the clutch mechanism. This fascination never died.

My first Thorens TD124 with SME 3012/II tone arm and Shure V-15 Type II cartridge which I owned as a student

Around 1990, my deep curiosity of the Thorens TD124 and other hi-fi classics became so great that I visited the German national library to view the first issues of the Hi-Fi-Stereophonie trade magazines. Here I came across a story from the chief editor describing a visit to the Thorens factory in Sainte-Croix with amazing pictures of the production. This was the motivation for my books and got the ball rolling.

My Thorens TD124, serial number 14302. This beautiful deck built in 1959 is fitted with classic Ortofon RMG 212 pick-up arm and the rare Swedish SELA armboard with integrated lift

The same Thorens TD124 on the title page of my SWISS PRECISION book against the backdrop of the Bernese Alps. Meanwhile I sold the motor unit with Ortofon plinth to a happy new German owner

The publication of the first edition was proceeded by several years of intensive research into various sources. I was able to interview important historical witnesses and obtain valuable illustrations from a pool of expert’s records. A highlight for me was a personal encounter with the 89 year old Robert Thorens after an exciting drive through the night to French Switzerland (further described in the book). The interview about his time as a chief engineer of the former Thorens factory enabled me to clear up some persistent misrepresentations, and in turn gives SWISS PRECISION a unique authenticity and credibility.

Joachim Bung in conversation with former head engineer Robert Thorens in Sainte-Croix

Furthermore I was able to find the man who in 1963 took the pictures in the Thorens factory. In addition to countless school classes and bridal couples, Gerd Pinsker has photographed houses, landscapes and occasionally also commercial and industrial companies. A late discovery, Gerd slightly stooped and with snow white hair became full of energy when talking about photography, a passion of his for over 50 years.

Gerd Pinsker viewing the old Thorens negatives

The photographer was delighted with my unexpected interest in the reportage pictures that were carefully kept in a community archive near Basel. He was also grateful for the recognition of his work. I am so glad to finally be able to reproduce these historically valuable pictures from old negatives in the best possible quality. The large-format images of the production of the Thorens turntables are the highlights of the third edition of SWISS PRECISION, published in German in 2019.

Assembly of a Thorens TD124 in Sainte-Croix; Photo by Gerd Pinsker

Holger Trass, operator of the website, with the author and classic jukebox Wurlitzer 1800, built in 1955 with 104 title options