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A Primer On Specialist German Watchmakers
Swiss watch brands do like to take the credit, perhaps understandably so, when it comes to the global acclaim of high quality luxury timepieces. Once one acquaints oneself with the finer intricacies of modern horology, he will find that the Swiss actually do face fierce competition from their German and Japanese counterparts. Today, we will focus on some of the finest brands from Germany that are little known outside watch enthusiast circles.
This short list of impressively high quality watch brands beautifully illustrates the potential in the German watch industry of today: from low-production, highly customizable pieces from Lang & Heyne, through Nomos’ sublimely clean and Sinn’s high-tech looks. If you want to steer away from the pack and get a quality watch that was not made in Switzerland, with these brands you won’t have any trouble with finding what you are looking for.
While A. Lange & Söhne and Glashütte Original are better known, Lang & Heyne, Moritz Grossmann, and Nomos Glashütte are also based in Saxony in east Germany. Standing out from this exclusive club is Sinn Spezialuhren, a Frankfurt-based manufacturer of some of the coolest watches specially designed for professionals – but let’s not get ahead of themselves.
Nomos Glashütte made a splash by bringing modern German design into the world of watches with tremendous success. If you are all into the smooth but defined lines, clear surfaces and tangible substance of Bauhaus, Nomos is the brand you will definitely want to check out. Offering a wide range of collections powered by sourced or in-house movements, you can keep things super sleek with the time-only Tangente, or spice it up with the Metro Lux collections. With affordable prices, instantly recognizable, pure German design, and comfortable-to-wear case size options, Nomos is as sensible and sleek as German watches get.
Noteworthy development from Nomos is the Neomatik, a term first used to refer to the brand’s first in-house movement, the DUW 3001. This merely 3.2 millimeter thick movement was equipped with automatic winding, mixing the comfort of self-winding calibers with the thin profile of a new and modern movement that can be fitted to Nomos’ proudly slender case designs.
Proof, that Nomos wanted and did go beyond designing solid-looking German timepieces, winning the hearts and appreciation of many watch enthusiasts with such a great first-go at producing a new in-house caliber.
Nomos Glashütte Metro Neomatik
If you want something more rugged to match your hectic lifestyle, worry not, as Sinn has got you covered – yes, even if you are a navy diver or air force fighter pilot. Sinn Spezialuhren has dedicated itself to designing and producing remarkably well-built and, to the fan of durable high-end products, no less beautiful watches.
Sinn has become a powerhouse when it comes to developing and implementing new technologies in watches to improve robustness. This include its Ar-Dehumidifying technology (that absorbs moisture inside the case), HYDRO oil-filled watchcases for unparalelled water-resistance, and the TEGIMENT hardening technology that makes watch cases extra-tough.
Take the Sinn U1 for example, this purpose-built and –designed dive watch, completely made of “high-strength, seawater-resistant German Submarine Steel”, with a TEGIMENT coated bezel and a depth rating of 1,000 meters, the U1 is a perfect example of Sinn pushing the limits of what a dive watch can do and how it can be built – and you don’t have to break the bank to get it in your hands either.
Put through actual crash tests, arctic expeditions and missions in outer space, Sinn to this day remains the underdog and one of the few best kept secrets in the industry when it comes to beautifully over-engineered watches – perfect for both arctic and desk diving or flights in fighter jets or first class cabins.
And then there are the exotic independent watchmakers. Marco Lang of Lang & Heyne says they only produce about 50 watches a year, a remarkably low amount even by independent watch manufacture standards.
With a small team of only about a dozen or so people, the family-run Lang & Heyne workshop in Dresden focuses on manufacturing a total of seven different types of calibers, designed to power nine different collections. All dressed into traditional trademark German watch design elements including exquisitely finished, intricate hands, bold Roman or Arabic indices and smooth cases of powerful proportions, Lang & Heyne proves that you need not go to the Swiss Jura mountains for some terrific traditional watchmaking.
Lange & Heyne Friedrich III
Recently revived watch brand Moritz Grossmann has joined an impressive club of watch manufactures in Glashütte. Named after a genuinely iconic figure of 19th century German horology, the brand today carries on the heritage of a man who travelled across Europe to learn watchmaking before returning to Glashütte to set up shop, and also establish the German School of Watchmaking in 1878.
Today, the brand is run by Christine Hutter, who as a female watchmaker-CEO is a rarity in the business, who strives to turn today’s Moritz Grossmann into one of the few true manufactures, with a focus on traditional finishing and manufacturing techniques of movement components, balance wheels and hands. The designs are more 21st century though, with a typically cool, but never soulless German stylistic language wrapped around their mechanical calibers.
Moritz Gossman Atum
Our quick look into this small but versatile universe of German watchmaking has revealed a beautiful variety of small and large, affordable and luxurious, traditional and modern brands, most all of them nestled in beautiful Saxony. If you haven’t yet considered buying into German watches, we are sure that from at least one of the brands mentioned above, you will have no trouble finding a watch that will set you apart from the rest today, and accompany you forever after.
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