Watch-and clockmaking has a long history in Germany, as evidenced by the fifteenth-and sixteenth-century timepieces from the Nuremberg/Augsburg territory and the academic discussions of Peter Henlein , who is said to have made the world’s first pocket watch around 1505.
Watches and clocks were also made in the Black Forest area from the seventeenth century just as the close by “gold city” Pforzheim beginning around 100 years after the fact, which was (and stays) famous for gems as well.
Germany’s comprehensive history in clock-and watchmaking is fascinating, yet here I focus on the historical backdrop of a little Saxon called Glashütte as it celebrates its 175-year commemoration in 2020. Glashütte is the most famous German center for top of the line watchmaking today. Its extraordinary history and exacting ascent from a few arrangements of remains qualify it as quite possibly the most steady phoenixes in watchmaking circles.
Glashütte early history
Glashütte (pronounced gläs-hyu-teh) is located in the German province of Saxony, around 30 kilometers from state’s capital city Dresden to its north and about a similar distance from Czech boundary toward the east. The town is settled in the valley glutted from the Erzgebirge (German for “iron mineral mountain range”) by the Müglitz river.
The town of Glashütte was established in the year 1450, and its foundation had a ton to do with mining in the Erzgebirge mountain range encompassing it. Silver was discovered here, and this is the means by which Glashütte (German for “glass cottage” or “gleaming hovel”) received its name. In 1506 the town officially became a city.
Silver was dug in the area for years and years, after which the little, yet flourishing town fell upon tough situations. The 90 Years War, the Northern War, and the Seven Years War harmed the territory for about a century. The price of silver decreased because of discoveries in the New World, and by 1780 just 500 individuals were living in Glashütte.
In 1791 Glashütte endured a catastrophic fire that consumed about portion of the apartments. The battle of 1806, which went on until 1813, brought at this point another round of misery, and individuals escaped to Dresden and compliment ground.
In the nineteenth century, Saxony demonstrated a mechanically solid locale inside a not-yet joined Germany. A sovereign state, Saxony was at the front line of numerous businesses at that point, and its first railroad – which ran among Dresden and Berlin – commenced in 1839.
But the eastern Erzgebirge locale was not included in the rise as it was excessively confined. In 1831, Glashütte’s city council sent its first solicitation to the Saxon government for help. The public authority required a long time to react (a few things never change!), and when it did, it put out public notices to search for merchants to create industry in “emergency” areas.
If this had been a film script, I envision Ferdinand Adolph Lange would have played the deus ex machina now, diving down to save the failing city. Yet, the circumstance was reality, not a Hollywood film, regardless of whether its telling makes for a decent story today.
Ferdinand Adolph Lange and the bit by bit foundation of a watch industry
F.A. Lange – who passed by “Adolph” – wound up filling the role of knight in sparkling shield, noting the public authority’s call with a far-reaching, far-seeing concept intended to help the declining locale as well as to set up a whole, completely new, coordinated watchmaking industry one stage at a time.
Watchmaking by and large was on a rise in Saxony, with clocks and marine chronometers in incredible interest. It was 1843, and Lange, the court watchmaker in Dresden, answered to the call, sending Privy Councilor von Weissenbach a nitty gritty concept for a pocket watch factory in this poor region.
Lange stood by right around a whole year for an answer – without much of any result. On May 14, 1844, he re-sent his concept, after which things started to move quickly. After five days he received an answer; the contract among Lange and the province of Saxony was officially endorsed on May 31, 1845.
At the start, Lange’s commitments were numerous however his prizes not many. As his aims were to create a whole grass-pulls industry for everyone’s benefit of the structurally powerless community, he consented to numerous obligations past that of a normal financial specialist hoping to begin his own business.
Lange consented to educate 15 new apprentices in watchmaking inside three years. These apprentices came directly from the Glashütte zone, so Lange peered out the ones appearing to have the most manual ability – and a significant number of them were bushel weavers. None were prepared in watchmaking.
The service distributed Lange 6,700 talers (the currency of the ideal opportunity) for fire up, 1,170 of which were saved for education and devices. The apprentices were obliged to work for Lange for an additional five years in the wake of completing their apprenticeships. During those five years they were needed to repay the public authority 24 Neugroschen each week (30 Neugroschen = one taler) for their education and devices, which they got to keep.
For some thought with regards to how much cash this may have been, the week by week income of a student, who worked a normal of 12 hours per day, including Saturday, was somewhere in the range of three and six talers. Lange was also committed to take care of his advance of 5,530 talers somewhere in the range of 1848 and 1854.
Despite the lacking, insufficient credit from the public authority and apprentices not familiar with the work, Lange leased a little workshop on Glashütte’s Hauptstraße (“Main Street”) and arranged a yearly production of 600 watches.
This is an extreme measure of watches for the time without huge scale machinery. Lange’s thought was to isolate the work with the goal that each of his representatives was answerable for completing certain components. Division of work was new in German watchmaking at the time.
Additionally, Lange’s concept included something that stays a critical component in contemporary Glashütte: to have the best rate precision conceivable when the watch leaves the factory. All Lange timepieces were to be controlled and planned prior to leaving the workshops, also another concept in watchmaking: so far, watches were typically coordinated and directed by the watchmaker who sold them at retail.
Another development was the estimations Lange utilized. Up to that point, the typical size estimation in watchmaking was the French ligne, which is equivalent to 2.5558 mm. Lange introduced the metric framework and utilized it exclusively in his workshop, despite the fact that it wasn’t officially utilized in Germany for estimating until 1875.
Ahead of his time from numerous points of view, F. A. Lange even imagined a couple of new apparatuses still utilized today to accommodate the new estimating system.
Growing Glashütte: the four establishing fathers
Although Lange’s factory was later to reach overall fame, his soul was benevolent: his aim was to create an industry for the more prominent good.
In light of this, it is not difficult to perceive any reason why he didn’t have the entirety of his apprentices satisfy their commitments to stay in his service for a very long time. He encouraged them to specialize and become free in the wake of completing their apprenticeships. Along these lines, the limited business in Glashütte would develop into a cottage industry, steadily growing and producing free watchmakers, yet specialist providers as well.
One of the ones who Lange could convince to join his experience in Glashütte was Friedrich August Adolf Schneider (1824-1878). A previous apprentice of Lange’s father-in-law in Dresden – Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes – simultaneously as F. A. Lange, Schneider was also related by union with him as he had pledged the more youthful sister of Lange’s better half, Antonia née Gutkaes.
Schneider, Lange’s first “factory foreman,” was the underlying watchmaker Lange encouraged to set up a second headquarters. Furthermore, in 1855 Schneider started producing his own watches, despite the fact that they were never to become as famous as Lange’s. Glashütter Uhrenfabrik Adolf Schneider was taken over by his child Woldemar Schneider after Adolf Schneider’s passing in 1878.
Julius Assmann (1827-1886) came to Glashütte to fill Schneider’s situation after Schneider had become autonomous. In 1852, Assmann established his own factory – the J. Assmann Deutsche Anker Uhren Fabrik – for the manufacture of precision pocket watches. Assmann was acceptable at his specific employment, and in their time his watches were too viewed as Lange’s. This company stayed in business until 1926. Assmann also wedded F. A. Lange’s most seasoned little girl, Marie Antonie Lange, after his first spouse passed away.
Another two factories were established during the 1890s: Uhrenfabrik Union Dürrstein & Co. furthermore, Ernst Kasiske – however Dürrstein’s didn’t make it past 1926.
Kasiske, a controller in Lange’s factory, was an early advocate of machine production. For financial reasons he took on an accomplice in 1904, a legitimate distributer from Berlin, and together they established Glashütter Präzisionsuhrenfabrik Akt. Ges. This present factory’s yearly production was around 1,000 watches.
Perhaps the main Glashütte watchmaker after Lange, and the fourth of what is known as Glashütte’s “establishing fathers,” was Moritz Grossmann. Grossmann established the German School of Watchmaking in 1878, subsequently fixing Glashütte’s future fame as an incredibly famous center of watchmaking.
Grossmann was also encouraged by Lange to strike out all alone, and he started to manufacture estimation apparatuses according to the two his own and F. A. Lange’s concepts, alongside precision pocket watches and different accessories. Grossmann was the most intellectual of the business’ unique establishing fathers and his first book, The Detached Lever Escapement, was distributed in 1864 by the Horological Institute in London. This was trailed by a few additional books, putting Grossmann on the map in worldwide horological circles.
Glashütte’s developing watch industry, and the public and worldwide interest that emerged from it propelled various new companies both directly engaged with watchmaking and in precision designing. In 1869 Robert Mühle established his company for the production of estimating instruments – a significant provider in Glashütte as this was the one city associated with horology that was at that point estimating in millimeters and tenths of millimeters.
Although the watch business was significant for Mühle’s company, it wasn’t his solitary source of income. He also produced different other estimating instruments, including tachometers and fire up counters. When the new century rolled over Mühle also started to manufacture dashboard instruments for automobiles.
The future: capitalizing on the great Glashütte name
An fascinating chapter of Glashütte’s set of experiences, and one that would in the end rehash itself as it were, opened in 1908.
Capitalizing on the great name that Glashütte had acquired because of the difficult work of its establishing fathers, Nomos-Uhr-Gesellschaft Guido Müller u. Co. Glashütte was established. Money manager Guido Müller got comfortable Saxony with his brother by marriage and a watch technician from Biel, Switzerland with a forceful promoting plan: they introduced their watches, fueled by Swiss developments, to different respectable people of the district, asking just for certain comments and a photograph.
From this they made a catalog – the first of its sort. This catalog was shipped off dissolvable farmers and town preachers. The arrangement was so successful toward the starting that Müller quickly expected to enlist ten new watchmakers for guideline and control of the Swiss watches before they left the Glashütte premises.
The publicizing and catalog messages didn’t clarify where these watches came from, and now Lange’s successors stepped in to protect the standing of F. A. Lange’s labor of love; Ferdinand Adolph Lange had died in 1875 and his children Richard and Emil presently drove the company. A. Lange & Söhne and Müller battled through the courts for around five years, yet in the end Lange won out and Müller was requested to be clearer with the composed word. That was the finish of Guido Müller’s Nomos, and in 1911 the company was liquidated.
This chapter of Glashütte’s set of experiences exposed that few out of every odd piece of a Glashütte watch was actually manufactured in Glashütte in each case at this point. In any case, the court’s decision made the law understood: at any rate 50 percent of the estimation of a Glashütte watch should come from Glashütte for the name Glashütte to be shown on the dial. The first Guido Müller Nomos company couldn’t do it and resigned from the scene.
World War I
World War I broke out in 1914, leaving a path of closed factories afterward. After the war, pocket watches were not, at this point popular – it was the newfangled wristwatches that were in vogue.
So not exclusively did the factories need to reconstruct from the war, they must be re-furnished to accommodate the coming trend.
Although Glashütte’s pocket watches were generally precise, Switzerland’s were comparably accurate – and much cheaper as the unbiased Swiss had just started producing components by machine. For comparison: a Glashütte pocket watch in a gold case cost 400 imprints in 1914, while a comparable Swiss timepiece would sell for 250.
The whole German watch industry came to a full quit during World War I, and around 1917 the country’s unified government frantically attempted to inspire a portion of the watchmakers to return. It was struggling getting Swiss timepieces on credit and could scarcely supply its formally dressed soldiers with dependable timekeepers.
The future was uncertain, yet on November 19, 1918, Deutsche Präzisions-Uhrenfabrik Glashütte e.G.m.H. (DPUG) was enrolled specifically to manufacture precision pocket watches in a supported, industrialized way, making them less costly than their predecessors. Really enthusiastic, this new endeavor got off to a quick beginning. Before the finish of December DPUG previously had 50 representatives, despite the fact that the new company experienced difficulties beginning with its production from scratch.
Affected by such a plague – sourcing components – Glashütte could not acquire watch crystals. The crystals had recently came from the Alsace-Lorraine locale, an industry that had fallen toward the finish of the war. DPUG had the option to import some from Czechoslovakia, yet they weren’t enough.
This caused DPUG to establish the autonomous company Uhrengläser deutscher Uhrmacher e.G.m.b.H. in 1919 in close by Teuchern. In 1921, DPUG fabricated another factory working to house its 212 employees.
DPUG was creating a yield of 350 watches each month – a number that the whole Glashütte watch industry combined had always been unable to reach until that point. Things were looking much better for the unassuming community when Glashütter-Feinmechanischen-Werkstätten e.G.m.b.H. was established in 1923 to make watchmakers’ instruments, yet as it turned out appearances were deceiving. Both the tooling factory and DPUG went under in 1925.
Meanwhile, A. Lange & Söhne was pushing ahead with the occasions, assuming gradually, to endure the difficult economic climate. The company, presently under the authority of F. A. Lange’s grandsons Otto, Rudolf and Gerhard, built up another, more affordable watch that went into production in 1928: OLIW, which represented Original Lange Industry Watch.
The word “Industry” in the name signalized that this was a mechanically manufactured watch and not, at this point one completely produced by hand. The objective here was to make more affordable, contemporary watches and cases. Classic Glashütte watches were simply excessively costly and antiquated for the advanced, post-war market.
During the time frame encompassing World War I, both the Alpina Union Horlogère Glashütte Sachs. G.m.b.H. furthermore, Uhren-Fabrikation Otto Estler Glashütter Sa were established. Both of these companies utilized Swiss ébauches with select Glashütte components and completed them in Glashütte. The two companies closed after the war, Estler because of the demise of its proprietor in 1924, while Alpina was exchanged in 1922.
A. Lange & Söhne became the lone Glashütte company to endure Germany’s economic crisis following World War I. Around 6,000,000 individuals were jobless in Saxony at the time.
Between the wars: industrialization, expansion, and a will to survive
At this point, one of Glashütte’s most intriguing periods with regards to time commenced. Dresden’s Giro-Zentrale Sachsen, a non-benefit bank, had recently apportioned DPUG a lot of credit, which were lost when the company failed in 1925. The bank decided to establish another company to compensate for these misfortunes. Spurred by Pforzheim’s recent successes, the bank’s barricade was in support of setting a factory to make ébauches in Glashütte.
On December 7, 1926 – 81 years to the day after the Glashütte watch industry was officially established by Ferdinand Adolph Lange – Giro-Zentrale Sachsen established Uhren-Rohwerke-Fabrik Glashütte AG (Urofa) and Uhrenfabrik Glashütte AG (Ufag).
Owned 100 percent by the bank, Urofa was created to manufacture ébauches to be sold both in Glashütte and different locales of Germany, particularly Pforzheim.
Ufag, then again, was called to life to manufacture whole watches utilizing around eight percent of Urofa’s yield: these were known as Tutima-level developments and were exclusively manufactured for the company.
Ufag had a lot of success with its first in class brand Tutima (for more data on this, if it’s not too much trouble, see 90 Years Of Tutima: An Abbreviated, Complete History ).
The first ébauche factory ever in Germany, Urofa was coordinated according to Swiss models. Its ébauches comprising base plates with spans, cocks, winding, and hand-setting mechanisms were conveyed, prepared for gathering including gems, decorated surfaces, and galvanic treatment, to special factories and get together specialists, who set up everything according to the desires of their clients and added the managing framework. Everything without exception else was finished by the “manufacturers.”
The two companies, under joint administration of Dr. Ernst Kurtz and set up in DPUG’s previous structures, quickly acquired great notorieties inside the watch industry.
World War II
By 1934, Urofa was productive. Be that as it may, beginning in 1938 both Urofa and Ufag were forced to work for the deadly implement industry in anticipation of World War II. By 1940, the companies’ own productions were halted in lieu of working all day for the government.
In 1941, Urofa received the errand of building up its most famous wrist chronograph: Caliber 59. This is also the development that would give Tutima its most famous watch to date, the first 1940s Tutima pilot’s chronograph. Urofa and Ufag manufactured around 1,200 of these watches for the German military per month.
Meanwhile, A. Lange & Söhne was also experiencing such a renaissance toward the finish of the 1930s because of increased marine and avionics activity. The professionals in these fields required precise timepieces for their navigational necessities, and Lange manufactured numerous excellent marine chronometers during this era.
Glashütte bombarded to the ground and down comes the Iron Curtain
One hundred years after its establishing, the Glashütte watch industry was not just grounded; it was besieged to the ground. On May 8, 1945, simply scant hours before the war officially finished, Russian soldiers bombarded Glashütte, leveling a large portion of the factories actually located there. What wasn’t besieged was given over to the occupying forces – including intellectual property – and shipped to Russia.
You can’t hold a decent watchmaker down, however, and optimistic Saxons are the last to surrender, regardless of how awful the circumstance may appear. Notwithstanding the dreary standpoint toward the finish of World War II, what came after that was actually worse.
Tutima fared the best as Dr. Kurtz escaped Glashütte before the war finished, taking Tutima with him toward the West. For the full story see 90 Years Of Tutima: An Abbreviated, Complete History .
Lange started producing its Calibers 28 and 28.1 once more, the solitary wristwatch development A. Lange & Söhne manufactured before the division of Germany, and had the option to convey it in 1949.
Urofa and Ufag made a decent attempt to recover financially, producing a few watches in 1946 on crude machines from extra parts.
But it was to no end: on June 30, 1946, the vast majority of Glashütte’s watch and precision designing companies went into the ownership of the German Democratic Republic’s “kin” to become VEB Mechanik Dresden. VEB represents volkseigener Betrieb, “individuals’ company.” VEB Urofa existed freely for some time, however, and by 1947 could once again start producing serially.
But on July 1, 1951, VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB) was established, and the remainder of Glashütte’s autonomous watchmakers were completely confiscated and crowded into the one enormous conglomerate. The companies making up GUB were as per the following: VEB Urofa including Ufag, VEB Lange, VEB Feintechnik (once Gössel u. Co.), VEB Messtechnik (some time ago Mühle & Son), VEB Estler, VEB Liwos (in the past Otto Lindig), and the Glashütte School of Watchmaking.
During the hour of communist East Germany, GUB was the solitary watch company in Glashütte. It was a colossally enormous concern, utilizing around 2,000 individuals. GUB continued to manufacture mechanical watches, even automatic timepieces from around 1954. At the point when the quartz watch hit the Swiss business in the last part of the 1960s, GUB also sorted out quartz technology for the East Bloc.
German reunification prompts the advanced age
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and following German reunification also achieved another arrangement of huge changes for Glashütte.
Walter Lange , incredible grandson of F. A. Lange and a watchmaker in the family company, had escaped toward the West after the war. The new political changes, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, achieved the hotly anticipated chance for him to restore this generally conventional of all Glashütte companies.
With the assistance of the business virtuoso of Günter Blümlein, a man who had just revamped IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre following the quartz crisis, and the financial backing of the Mannesmann-VDO gathering, who claimed the two previously mentioned manufactures, on December 7, 1990, exactly 145 years after its underlying establishing, Lange had the option to restore his family’s company in Glashütte where it should have been. The first current A. Lange & Söhne collection showed up in the marketplace in 1994 (see Why The A. Lange & Söhne Tourbillon Pour Le Mérite Is One Of The Most Historically Important Wristwatches for additional on that).
Not to stay the solitary extravagance manufacture in the humble community, the East German goliath Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe was purchased by Heinz W. Pfeifer and accomplices in 1990, a finance manager from an adjoining western state. Pfeifer restructured GUB such a lot of that it has become a more than respectable, productive delegate of Glashütte on the planet’s business sectors, with its first new watch gave in 1991.
Since GUB was initially the conglomerate of the entirety of the companies left in the town before seizure, GUB actually claimed the rights to these names. Notwithstanding creating the Glashütte Original brand, GUB also re-established the Union brand as a “younger sibling” in typical Rolex/Tudor practice. This company acquired such a lot of remaining in the business for its horological excellence that it was purchased by the world’s biggest watch company, Switzerland’s Swatch Group, in 2000.
Hans-Jürgen Mühle, incredible grandson of Robert Mühle, worked in dispersion at GUB, becoming one of five overseeing directors before the fall of the Berlin Wall. After GUB was successfully sold, Mühle went to re-establishing the company that drag his own name: Nautische Instrumente Mühle Glashütte .
And that maverick – Nomos – experienced an exceptionally productive renaissance (in name just) when Roland Schwertner, a Düsseldorf money manager engaged with watches, saw the chance to create something special. He purchased the name Nomos and established a little watch company in Glashütte in 1990, becoming the first brand in Glashütte after German reunification.
History appeared to rehash itself toward the beginning, however, as Nomos watches were fueled by the Swiss Peseux Caliber 7001, yet a historical update from A. Lange & Söhne and GUB (Glashütte Original) quickly settled the circumstance. Nomos Glashütte’s timepieces are currently advanced to the point that they are fueled by manufacture developments .
For Schwertner, it was imperative to keep up the first soul of Glashütte. Thus Nomos developed such a lot of that it has spread to a few locations around the town, one of them being the city’s first retail source for a Glashütte-made watch. Furthermore, this little store for Nomos Glashütte’s watches is located at Hauptstraße 12 – in a similar structure where F. A. Lange started the whole Glashütte industry 175 years ago.
Other brands have come, some have gone, however some have remained. Outstanding “newcomers” include Wempe Glashütte and Moritz Grossmann .
Since the re-introduction of western capitalism in Glashütte, the town has experienced bunch changes. The undeniable economic rise brought a flood of new structures and reconstruction with it.
But Glashütte once again needed to contend with calamity: in August 2002 the surge of the century – for all of eastern Europe – caused a dam to break over the town in the slopes of the Erz range, expanding both the typically manageable Prießnitz and Müglitz streams and causing a cascade of seething waters to desolate the town. In any case, in typical Glashütte custom, the 2,500 inhabitants and their partners got back up, cleaned themselves off, and re-began the machines that worked.
Today, the city is dedicated completely to watches and is home to current machinery, huge brands, and famous horology. Its watch industry is developing, and new providers are being attracted to the district and its outskirts.
And with the quantity of fine products the city currently ends up, it will definitely continue to introduce the horological world with great products made in Saxony for quite a while to come.
Happy birthday, Glashütte: 175 years look great on you!
For more detail on the advanced period of Glashütte if it’s not too much trouble, see Made In Germany: The Glory Of Glashütte .
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