Every key in Switzerland is unique because of the precise pattern drilled into it so it can fit just one door - even the edge is encoded.
OK, not just one door when you live in an apartment building because the same key opens the common front door of the building, the laundry room, the basement/garage doors, your personal storage locker, and your mailbox. All residents of the building have a similar key "family", but each is slightly different enough so that only your key will open your own apartment door.
Also, every key here has a serial number that identifies who it belongs to (building owner):
Another interesting aspect of these keys is that they can be inserted into the door in either orientation. As you can see the slot/divot pattern seems to be the same on both sides of the key.
If you lose a key it can be a NIGHTMARE. First of all, you can't just go to the local hardware store or locksmith and get a new one made. Nope. Each Swiss key starts with a unique key blank that is unique to a specific locksmith. If you lose your key, you have to notify your landlord and/or the police immediately. The landlord can decide how long to wait to see if it turns up as to what action (how much it is going to cost you) to take.
An awesome thing about the Swiss is that for the most part they return stuff that does not belong to them. Like keys. Apparently it is common knowledge that if you find keys on the bus/train or on the street, you simply drop them in the nearest mailbox. The Swiss postal system (Die Post) forwards them to the Police Department who has a database of which key serial number goes to which property owner.
But let's say you lost your key while skiing or while abroad and it never turns up. In those cases the landlord will charge you to replace it. And being that it is Switzerland, it will cost you. Obviously if your keys were stolen and the suspected thief knows your address, then the entire building and all your neighbors would need new locks and keys and you would have to pay BIG bucks. But if the risk of the key falling into the "wrong hands" is low, the landlord may just replace your individual lock/key with one from the key "family". I have read stories of people being charged anywhere from 100CHF to 1,000CHF to replace keys - mostly due to how many locks have to be replaced.
We have all been trained to always know where our keys are at all times. This handy-dandy post it is the last thing we see when we leave the house:
My poem today unlocks the mystery of holding on to your keys:
is to never
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.