Dr. h.c. Heinrich Weiss (1920-2020) began repairing and collecting watches in his youth. He qualified as a mechanic and then studied business management, attending lectures at the ETH in Zurich. In 1950, for family reasons, he took over a printer's in Basel and rapidly transformed it into a modern company that produced packaging for various pharmaceutical firms in Basel for several decades. Originally an enthusiastic collector of watches, in the little spare time available to him Heinrich Weiss also developed an interest in music automatons, which he often acquired in a poor state of repair and then meticulously restored to their former glory as working masterpieces of technology. His success in business gradually enabled him to devote himself more to his hobby. Over the years, he accumulated one of the world's most extensive collections of music boxes, disc music boxes, orchestrions and other mechanical music automatons.
In 1976, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Philosophy and History at the University of Basel, in recognition of his services to mechanical music. In 1978, he was awarded the culture prize of the canton of Solothurn, and was made a freeman of the community of Seewen in 1990.