The region between the towns of Glashutte and Pforzheim comprises a great number of prestigious German brands and top manufactures, as well as some smaller companies. However, among this variety there are two names that are enjoying the maximum popularity – A. Lange Sohne and Glashutte Original, which have belonged to the Richemont and Swatch Groups respectively.
The history of Glashutte Original watch-making started in 1845, when Ferdinand Adolph Lange received a state loan and established the first Glashutte watch manufactory. He drew significant support from some mater watchmakers, such as Ernest Kasiske, Ludwig Strasser, Ludwig Strasser, who joined the company and became founding fathers of the Glashutte precision pocket watch which gained a worldwide fame.
After Lange’s death in 1875, Moritz Grossman formed Deutsche Uhrmacherschule (the “German Watchmaking School”.) As the result Glashutte gained notoriety for producing high-quality traditional yet innovative mechanical timepieces.
Realizing that not everybody could afford purchasing high quality timepieces produced by Glashutte, Johannes Dürrstein established the Glashutter Uhrenfabrik UNION in 1893 and concentrated on producing inexpensive Glashutte quality timepieces, by applying non-precious metals while maintaining their renowned accuracy. The end of the first golden era of Glashutte manufacturing came with the Great War.
However, Alfred Helwig, who had attended the school of watchmakers, opened his chronometer workshop in Glashutte. The old workshops managed to get over the crisis and formed watch co-operatives. The name Glashutte Original appeared in 1921. During the Second World War, Glashutte timepieces were called ‘war goods’ and when the war was over, many of the firms were expropriated by the Russians.
The changes in economic and political situation led to the fact that the majority of the existing watch-making firms were united into a single conglomerate – VEB Glashutter Uhrenbetriebe in 1951. Up to the late 80’s, political and economic isolation brought a great number of developments into the field of watch-making and developing precision mechanics.
The German reunification of 1990 the fall of the Berlin Wall helped Glashutte watch-making take over its old facilities and return to the honorable world of Haute Horology. The creation of Karree, Glashutte’s rectangular wristwatch, marked the re-launching of the manufacture.
The VEB Glashutter Uhrenbetriebe was reorganized into Glashutter Uhrenbetriebe GmbH – a limited company – and left A. Lange Sohne, Glashutte Original, Union Glashutte together and Nomos, Glashutte SA, as neighbors.
Nowadays, Glashutte is acknowledged as one of the best watch manufacturers and has reached the highest levels of watch-making superiority.
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