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Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making. 
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Post Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
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Of course, we all think of Switzerland when we think of high quality timepieces, but I have recently spent a lot time looking into the history of the German aspect of horology and it is fascinating.

Glashuette has and always will be the center of German watch making.

Glashuette’s watch making history goes back quite a ways. In 1845, Ferdinand Adolph Lange opened up a watch making facility that would be the beginning of a localized industrial revolution. Industry in Glashütte was not particularly strong at the time, and with the watchmaking experience Lange had gained abroad, he proposed an initiative to the Saxon government whereby they would invest in the framework of a brand new industry. Lange’s idea accounted for efficient watch production, as well as an apprenticeship program — because of Glashütte’s isolated location, both of these would be key factors in supporting any sort of lasting growth. Before anyone knew it, Glashütte was the most active and important watchmaking city in Germany.

The town is steeped in invention and in military history. In addition to creating precision pocket watches for the open market, they also built almost all of the observation watches and ship chronometers for the navy and air force, as well as the Fliegerchronographen for the Luftwaffe. On the last day of the Second World War (May 8, 1945) Glashütte was bombed and partly destroyed by Soviet pilots.

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After the end of the Second World War the Glashütter watchmakers were expropriated by the Soviet occupation power and the Glashütter watchmaking was combined from 1951 in a total enterprise VEB Glashütter Watchshops (GUB). The individual Glashütter watch brands disappeared from the market. The trademark rights remained with the VEB GUB, but they were not used. Glashütter watches have now been manufactured industrially in large series, but in this time they have also been regarded as the more valuable timepieces due to their higher-quality construction, compared to the bulk of the Ruhla watch factories. Known mechanical automatic clockworks of the VEB GUB were the "Specimatic" (1960-1978), followed by the "Specichron" (1978-1985); After that the proportion of the mechanical clock movements decreased strongly and quartz clocks were built.

The charm of Glashuette lies in it’s traditions and F.A. Lange had established himself as the cornerstone to the industry and way of thinking. There was also another man who was closely linked to F.A. Lange and who also had a fascinating influence: Moritz Grossmann. Both were innovators, successful business men, altruistic, and highly involved in politics as well as the creation of an industry in an otherwise rather isolated part of Germany. Both men also held at different times the position of Mayor of Glashuette and were also members of the Saxon congress. In the watchmaking industry, these two men worked very closely with one another sharing ideas, prototypes, and even creating watches with parts sourced from both companies. Many pocket watches exist with A. Lange cases and Moritz Grossmann movements.

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This also speaks to the energy of Glashuette, that "competing" companies still worked together in order to elevate the craft and the industry in general.


Ferdinand Adolph Lange:

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Ferdinand Adolph Lange, a son of Johann Samuel Lange, who was baptized in Dresden on February 25, 1815, grew up as a child with nurses who gave him a proper education. At the age of 15 he joined the Dresden Polytechnic and later studied at the Saxon court clockmaker Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes the watchmaker's profession. Beginning in 1837, he traveled to France, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom to improve his knowledge and skills with well-known watchmakers. The famous Paris watchmaker Joseph Thaddeus Winnerl offered him a place to live, but Lange returned to Saxony in 1841 and became a part of the "Gutkaes & Lange" company in Dresden with Gustav Bernhard Gutkaes.

On December 7, 1845, Ferdinand Adolph Lange founded his watchmaker Friedrich August Adolf Schneider (1824-1878), financially supported by the Royal Saxon government with a repayable loan of 7,820 thalers, in Glashütte with his later brother-in-law, the watchmaker "A. Lange, Dresden ", who had been co-owner of A. Lange & Söhne since 1868 after the advent of his son Richard Lange. In 1875 the son Friedrich Emil Lange joined the company management. The structurally weak region around Glashütte in the Osterzgebirge offered above all the indispensable low wage level for the start of an economic watch production. At the same time, he fulfilled his commitment to the Saxon government and began to train watchmakers in Glashütte, laying the foundations for the emerging watch industry. Lange further encouraged their further development by encouraging qualified employees to start their own companies.

In contrast to the at that time otherwise still very artisanal watchmaking long sought a division of labor production of items tried the theoretical principles of precision engineering to deepen and to use for the watch manufacturing. Ferdinand Adolph Lange developed, among other things, new precision tools and measuring instruments, for example the tenth dimension. These methods, as well as the technical improvements introduced by Lange in watchmaking, soon led to the production of high-quality and very precise pocket watches at acceptable prices in economical quantities.


Moritz Grossmann:

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Karl Moritz Großmann was born on 27 March 1826 as the son of a letter sorter in Dresden. He attended the elementary school and later switched to a private school. After completion of this training, he received a two-year scholarship to attend the Royal Polytechnic School in Dresden.
At the age of 16, he began a five-year apprenticeship at the German watch and chronometrist Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes. Already as an apprentice, he gave lectures on watchmaking. In 1846 he went as a watchmaker to the journey and took a position at Altona near Hamburg, first at Jansen, then as a chronometer maker at Krille.

In 1848 he volunteered as a volunteer for the German Army, and was assigned to a corps under the direction of the Bavarian Major von der Tann, later general. After the end of the survey of Schleswig-Holstein (Treaty of Malmo), he wanted to emigrate to America, but returned first to his parents in Glashütte. There he met Ferdinand Adolph Lange, who was persuading him to take over a position with him. After only seven months in the service of Lange, the Mai aufstand broke out in Dresden in 1849, and Grossmann was returned to the army. In the spring of 1850 he was able to accept a position at the Hofuhrmacher Biergans in Munich, but in October he moved to La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, where he worked as a visiting consultant. After only one month, Grossmann had to give up this position and return to his home country, since he was mobilized again in Saxony. His military service finally ended in 1852.

He then worked as a watchmaker in England, Spain, Belgium and Sweden to continue his education. After his return in 1854 he founded a watch factory in Glashütte, which he directed until his death. After his death in 1885, the factory was liquidated.

In 1869, he handed over a study entitled "On the construction of a simple but mechanically perfect watch" to the Chambers of Commerce in Geneva. He describes in it the Glashütter clock, as Lange produced on the basis of his formerly mentioned numerous improvements and how it became typical for the manufacture of glash-nutcrafts. Among other things, Grossmann developed a small watchmaker's lathe called "Glashütter Drehstuhl", which also included high-precision precision pendulum clocks, marine chronometers, and, in particular, high-quality pocket watches, including a minute tourbillon with chronometer inhibition and rocker, as well as lectures and articles for domestic and foreign journals In 1866, he was awarded a prize by the British Horological Institute, and his social commitment, the founding of the German Watchmaking School in Glashütte, and the efforts to build a railway connection from Dresden to the rather isolated Müglitz Valley. On January 23, 1885, Moritz Großmann gave a lecture on the "Die Einführung der Weltzeit" ("The Introduction of the World") in Leipzig, shortly afterwards he died a stroke of a comparatively young age.

Both names continue to create fine German watches.

A. Lange und Soehne began their rebirth in 1994 and have since become a name synonomous with the highest quality and luxury. The company was revitalized by Walther Lange, after it’s dismantling during the East German communist regime, with it’s focus on creating watch in the quality and style of the pocket watches created by his grandfather. They were sold to the Richemont group in 2000 and produce roughly 8000 watches a year with production sites around Sachsen, producing some of the finest watches in the world. The amount they produce and the level of quality they maintain is an ode to German production, quality control and craftsmanship.

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Moritz Grossmann began it’s rebirth in 2008 producing high end completely handmade watches in the style of the old town founders. Moritz Grossmann remains much smaller than their neighbours A. Lange, producing around 500 watches annually. They are very strict about their independent status and policies of all in-house production, they even create their own watch hands by hand, which no other German company does, and have no plans of expanding any further. The attitude being that they can only produce a finite number of watches on site in their workshops in Glashuette, any more than this and the production changes taking focus away from the handmade artisan approach.

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Many other noteworthy brands have their presence in Glashuette as well, including: Glashuette (Swatch), NOMOS, Tutima, Muehle, etc;

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The history of the town, these innovating men, and watches cannot be separated. To this day the "village" still produces great pieces and great horological developments. It is a small, quaint, and inspiring place to visit.

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Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:46 am
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
Nice write-up. I have always admired high quality watchmaking as this.

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Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:06 am
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
emilio666 wrote:
Nice write-up. I have always admired high quality watchmaking as this.

thanks. ) It was my pleasure.

Yeah, I have recenty become enamoured with some smaller independent brands. THere is some cool stuff going on with: Ferrier, Morser, Foser, Journe, MB&F, Mortiz Grossmann, etc;

They get pricey, but hey 20-30K for a handmade small batch piece of art in precious metals or 10K for a machine spit out mass produced piece of steel. Hmmmm.

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Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:59 am
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
Beautifully done Benny.

Love that you included a selfie.

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Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:47 am
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
Thanks for the info. Besides their quality, these watches are look great.

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Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:51 am
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
Great write up Ben. Afraid these are well out of my budget but craftsmanship costs it's simple. :thumbup:


Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:31 am
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
I am speechless Ben!!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

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Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:48 am
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
Nice summary Ben.

I had the oportunity to visit the museum there, and went back home with many wishes :o .
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Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:12 pm
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
Very interesting, thanks for sharing!

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Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:22 am
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
That's a whole lotta info.

Where'd you get all this from Benny?

Thanks for sharing


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Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:00 pm
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
And most striking: the Moriz Großmann watch manufacutury is founded and run by a woman..... 8-)


Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:13 pm
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
TitusDH wrote:
And most striking: the Moriz Großmann watch manufacutury is founded and run by a woman..... 8-)

Yeah, I find that fascinating too. She had worked with A. Lange for a long time. Got fed up after Richemont bought the lot and decided to create something with strong ties to the old traditions of the German masters of the 1800's. Going back to extreme handwork and real in house completion.

Hut ab.

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Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:45 pm
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
I have just added this ludwig to my collection. I love watches from Glasshute!

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Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:34 am
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
Very interesting read with my Sunday morning coffee. Thanks. :clap:

One thing I don't understand about these new watches....too much rose gold :sick:


Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:53 am
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
I love the 3/4 movement, nice craftsmanship.


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Sun Apr 30, 2017 12:54 pm
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Post Re: Glashuette: the epicenter of German watch making.
To date my #1 dream watch is the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater
I've had a thing for Glashütte Original for many years and theirs was the first watch catalog I ever collected. I always thought the Meissen series of porcelain dials was a neat nod to history as I'd studied the origins of Meissen when I was a Fine Arts Major.

Other historically noteworthy companies that have major drool factor:
Arnold and Son UK
Louis Moinet - French roots, Swiss address

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