Assessment of hand strength is used in a wide range of clinical settings especially during treatment of diseases affecting the function of the hand. This investigation aimed to determine age- and gender-specific reference values for grip and pinch strength in a normal Swiss population with special regard to old and very old subjects as well as to different levels of occupational demand. Hand strength data were collected using a Jamar dynamometer and a pinch gauge with standard testing position, protocol and instructions. Analysis of the data from 1023 tested subjects between 18 and 96 years revealed a curvilinear relationship of grip and pinch strength to age, a correlation to height, weight and significant differences between occupational groups. Hand strength values differed significantly from those of other populations, confirming the thesis that applying normative data internationally is questionable. Age- and gender-specific reference values for grip and pinch strength are presented.