Timekeeping: Guide to German Watches

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Timekeeping: Guide to German Watches

Post by andrema on Fri 16 Dec 2011, 11:43 am

This is a great article on German watch brands that was written by Jason Heaton ("suddha" over at DWC). Enjoy!

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Timekeeping: Guide to German Watches



Ask the average guy where the best watches in the world are made and he will undoubtedly say, “Switzerland.” After all, most of the recognizable brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Rolex and Patek Philippe hail from that neutral Alpine nation. It is partly the neutrality of Switzerland that has allowed these great names of horology to continue their rich histories, uninterrupted by wars, going back, in some cases, to the mid-18th century. But look across the border to Germany and you will see a renaissance of some great names in watchmaking, and some upstart brands, that are hitting their stride and turning out great timepieces that rival those of their Swiss neighbors. The great centers of German watchmaking, Pforzheim and Glashütte, are once again at the fore of the industry after half a century of dormancy and recovery from World War II and a Communist government that squashed individualism and discouraged innovation. This article is a guide to the characteristics that make German watches stand out and a survey of some of the top brands.

German watches are distinctively unique, often purpose-built, with innovations both outside and inside their cases. This should not be surprising, given the reputation Germany has for its superb engineering and craftsmanship. On the one hand, you have brands like Damasko and Sinn, who focus on the durability of their watches, with super-hardened steel cases that are virtually scratch-proof, the latter also using injected Argon gas and copper sulfate capsules to keep the movement free of moisture. The German tradition of metalworking is alive and well at case manufacturers Fricker, Ickler and SUG and German watch cases are renowned for their durability and precision tolerances.

On the other hand, the great watchmakers of Glashütte focus on movement innovation, with fusee-and-chain mechanisms, month-long power reserves and monthly mechanical alarms. Traditionally, movements from Glashütte were made from nickel steel (“German silver”) and had three-quarter sized baseplates which provide a sturdy anchor point for the gear train and the modern German-made movements are still distinguished by this characteristic. The rich history of delicate and difficult decoration in Glashütte is still evident in the movements of A. Lange & Söhne, where all movement parts are intricately hand-engraved, front and back and the balance co@) signed by the artisan. Something we’ve witnessed in person.



Styling of most German watches is stark and minimalist, following the Bauhaus aesthetic of clean lines and form following function. There is a refreshing lack of writing on the dials, sober use of color and an emphasis on readability. Cases often have straight edges, angled lugs and beveled flanks. Even to the untrained eye, the DNA of a German watch is apparent, not unlike the purposeful elegance that makes that country’s automobiles, tools and cameras instantly recognizable.

German watches run the gamut from eminently affordable to stratospherically expensive based largely on materials used, the extent to which movements are developed, built and decorated in-house and availability and exclusivity. What this means is that there really is a German watch for just about everyone, whether you’re looking for a durable timepiece to stand up to the rigors of daily life or an investment-grade work of mechanical art. Here’s an overview of a few of Germany’s watch brands.

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The article then goes on to go into detail on some of the more well known (to some) brands and models...a very good read! Here is a link to the orginal content:

http://gearpatrol.com/blog/2011/12/15/timekeeping-a-guide-to-german-watches/
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andrema
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Re: Timekeeping: Guide to German Watches

Post by andrema on Fri 16 Dec 2011, 11:44 am

BTW - Jason has a cool blog too: http://jasonheaton.wordpress.com/
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Re: Timekeeping: Guide to German Watches

Post by porschefan on Fri 16 Dec 2011, 2:12 pm

"This article is by no means a comprehensive overview of all the German watch brands. We had to leave off some fine names like Mühle Glashütte, Damasko, Archimede and Union Glashütte. But hopefully you’ve acquired an understanding of the gestalt of German watches and a new appreciation that will inspire further exploration."

He must really dislike Tutima.
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Re: Timekeeping: Guide to German Watches

Post by andrema on Fri 16 Dec 2011, 2:20 pm

porschefan wrote:He must really dislike Tutima.
Shhhhhhh.......

Tim, that fine brand is just OUR secret!! Huh?
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