One of the things that is exciting about travel is that there can be unexpected finds. When I was a child it was always surprising that there was a small, nondescript building in our relatively small suburban town that manufactured batting helmets for baseball teams around the world. You never know what you’ll find or where you’ll find it. So it probably comes as no surprise, given that setup, that I’m equally fascinated by the fact that there’s a town in eastern Germany manufacturing precision watches. Not Switzerland: Germany. Glashütte to be exact. And the town is on My Must See list this month.
Located in the state of Saxony roughly 20 miles from Dresden and not far from the border with the Czech Republic, Glashütte is considered the “birthplace” of German watchmaking. The town’s history with watchmaking dates back to 1845. Forget about Switzerland. The town are clearly proud of their watchmaking heritage as they use “Hier lebt die Zeit” (“Time lives here.”) as their slogan.
The first stop on a visit to Glashütte for watch fans should undoubtedly be Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Glashütte (the German Watch Museum Glashütte). The museum is full of clocks of all kinds and all sizes from grandfather clocks to pocket watches. One such clock at the museum, an astronomic clock built by Hermann Goertz. The clock took more than three decades to complete and contains 1756 movement and dial components. Another watch in their collection is an 18-karat gold pocket watch with a beautifully detailed case that’s incredible. Needless to say, the museum is full of amazing examples of watchmaking highlighting the engineering, the building and the artisan craftsmanship.
The town continues to be the home for high-quality German watchmaking. Several training centers are in the town in order to teach younger generations this valued craft. In addition a number of luxury watch companies still call the city home. Glashütte Original, A. Lange & Söhne, Union Glashütte are just a few of those high-end companies. Several of the companies, including Glashütte Original, offer tours of their manufacturing facilities. The museum also offers a watch-related city tour.
All photos courtesy the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Glashütte and copyright René Gaens.