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Continuing with the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum at Furtwangen … from ancient time keeping devices to clocks and watches …


This museum is not to be confused with the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Glashütte  which was opened in 2008 at Glashütte near Dresden.


Glashütte is the watchmaking capital of the former East Germany while Furtwangen is in the traditional clockmaking area of Germany.The well-known brand A. Lange & Söhne is located in Glashütte, started by Aldolf Lang in 1845 initially making pocket watches. See engravings below.


Some of the early pocket watches had really plain exteriors, due not because of the lack of skills, after all they were very expensive and worn by the rich and noble, but because protestant cities in the 17th century enforced strict moral standards and banned ornamentation.


So the jewels and decorations were on the inside. In the 1700’s many goldsmiths became watchmakers.


In the 18th century, pocket watches were no longer made by a solo watchmaker – instead, the parts were made by specialists and increasingly by machines in different regions, notably Geneva and the Jura region on the border of France and Switzerland.  This division of labor made inexpensive pocket watches possible.

In Switzerland, the watchmaking industry is centered around La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle which is only about 30 minutes drive from my office. We blogged about La-Chaux-des Fonds here.


But of course times changed … no ornamentation? How about the graphical display of carnal pleasures …”C’est inci q’on passe le temps”.


The photos shown here are mostly pocket watches but they do have a wristwatch collection. Apparently, the collection including many famous brands had been stolen once before. So they are protected by burglar-proof glass (so it says on a little card on display).


The pocket watch shown below is by DuBois et fils. The company was founded in 1785 and one of the DuBois’s sons or someone who licensed the name raised new money to continue the business. It announced a 1.5 million swiss franc investment to kick start the brand on its website :

We are happy to report that in January 2013, after five months of raising, the successful DuBois et fils Crowd Funding came to an end. More than 587 persons from 20 different countries subscribed to shares of DuBois et fils and are now partial owners of the oldest Swiss watch factory. …  Thus the Crowd Funding project of DuBois et fils, which raised CHF 1.5 Mio to produce the new watch collection, is pure pioneer work. …


Some of the parts for the pocket watches (the escapements shown here) are so delicate.


The Deutsches Uhrenmuseum at Furtwangen does have a collection of wristwatches. Interestingly, according to a publication from the museum, wristwatches were originally worn only by women in the 19th century. Only until around 1930, the production of wristwatch overtook that of the pocket watch and watch repair became part of a clock-maker’s training.


Up to that time, the exterior of watches had to be adapted to their interior movements, but technology has advanced to the point that the movement could fit the shape of the watch and as a result, many different shapes emerged. In the 40’s the round shape became popular again because it is easier to make a round movement flat and waterproof. The second world war made the wristwatch a professional tool for many soldiers.


Long before Swatch, the French company – Lip – already tried plastic, witty design but it was not commercially successful. Lip is still around and it had quite a bit of history worthy of a whole book – go online and look …


Staiger quartz clocks from Germany (above) and some fun alarm clocks (below).


In the museum, we saw a lot of alarm clocks, an appliance which we hate but cannot live without … this is what they looked like in the beginning.


Fascinating history. Part 1 of this post is here.


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