Good news for Germany’s undisputed capital of fine watchmaking: Last week, the German authorities passed a law that legally protects the designation of origin of timepieces made in Glashütte. As a result, from now on they enjoy a comparable legal protection to “Swiss Made” watches. For the local manufacturers, the new regulation provides a significantly improved legal framework and a more effective protection against copycats. Customers will benefit from this, too. They can be certain that watches displaying “Glashütte I/SA” on the dial have actually been manufactured in this time-honored and highly praised town, including all quality-related manufacturing processes.
The small Saxon city nestled in the eastern Ore Mountains near the Czech border draws on a noble tradition of more than 175 years of watchmaking that was initiated by Ferdinand Adolph Lange (1815–1875). By founding a small workshop in the town in 1845, the legendary watchmaker laid the cornerstone of an unparalleled success story in the world of watches. Thanks to his efforts, clock and watch workshops popped up in Glashütte throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. Soon, the precision pocket watches from the once bitterly poor town made their way to the top and were sought after for their superior quality and craftsmanship.
After a 45-years hiatus under the regime of the former East German social government, when all the once famous brands were combined into the VEB Glashütte watch factories and focused on cheap mass production in the planned economy, Walter Lange (1924 – 2017), the great grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, re-founded his family’s former manufactory in 1990 with great success, laying the corner stone for the renaissance of Glashütte fine watchmaking.
Just like in 1845, this bold decision encouraged others to start up the production of sophisticated watches in the Saxon town. Today, Glashütte is home to approximately a dozen brands, offering everything that makes the watch enthusiast’s heart beat faster, from high-end haute horlogerie complications to state-of-the-art sports watches. Some of them belong to major Swiss concerns, such as Glashütte Original and Union Glashütte (Swatch Group) or A. Lange & Söhne (Richemont). Others have remained independent, like Nomos Glashütte and Mühle-Glashütte.
Today, the characteristic decorative and technical hallmarks of Glashütte fine watchmaking, such as the the famous three-quarter plate crafted from German silver, the swan-neck fine adjustment, the Glashütte ribbing, a striped finish drawn diagonally across the surface, and many more are highly desired among connoisseurs and collectors.
While the “Glashütte Rule”, an unwritten, however binding convention among the town’s manufacturers that at least 50 percent of a timepiece’s value has to be created in Glashütte has been around since 1906, the quality standard hasn’t had a legal foundation until now. Therefore, it is not surprising that the manufacturers welcome the protection of the origin. “The new regulation increases the prestige for this exceptional location”, says Uwe Ahrendt, CEO of Nomos Glashütte, adding that “it is a strong recognition of all that has been achieved since 1845.”
It’s amazing such exquisite watches come from such a small picturesque town.