Specialist Ryan Chong hails Germany’s growing strength in the horology market as brands such as A. Lange & Söhne and, more recently, Moritz Grossman become increasingly sought after
While the ‘Swiss made’ signature has been seen as the ultimate mark of quality and craftsmanship in the world of haute horology for decades, the Swiss have seen a sizeable increase in international competition in recent years. The United States, Japan and Hong Kong have all become formidable players. But Germany, in particular, has become Switzerland’s direct rival.
Since the reunification of Germany in 1990, watchmaking operations have quickly caught up with the Swiss, putting Germany on the map as both an aesthetic and a mechanical innovator in the vast world of watchmaking. Today, the ‘Made in Germany’ label is now recognized as a force of its own, with watchmakers both big and small contributing to timekeeping in ways once unimaginable.
Glasshütte and Pforzheim — and the names to know
To understand the world of German watchmaking and its history, one must first become familiar with the regions of Glashütte and Pforzheim, which have largely come to define the country’s watchmaking efforts.
Watchmaking in Pforzheim began in the late 1700s with the opening of a watchmaking facility in an orphanage, and would eventually lead to the creation of horological schools, along with the founding of utilitarian-focused watchmakers such as Laco and Stowa.
Glashütte is best known as the birthplace of A. Lange & Söhne, founded by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in 1845 and now owned by Richemont. The town is also home to the German School of Watchmaking, which opened its doors 1878.
The star of Glashütte: Moritz Grossman
Moritz Grossmann has been a source of wonderment for German watchmaking enthusiasts. Despite having been founded just a decade ago, the principles and ethos that define Moritz Grossmann date back to the 19th century, when Karl Moritz Grossmann founded the German School of Watchmaking, inspiring connoisseurs of German horology for generations to come.
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Crafted from a human hair
In just 10 years, the firm has already set itself apart from other watchmakers through the incorporation of a stop-seconds system which pauses the balance wheel using a brush crafted from human hair, in watches such as the flagship Benu Tourbillon.
A lighthearted design aesthetic
It’s worth noting that Moritz Grossmann’s innovative spirit is not limited to its mechanical developments alone. It has also carved out its own aesthetic niche, while still adhering to traditions of the industry within Germany. Like other German timepieces, Grossmann’s designs are highly legible and functional, although with pieces such as the Benu 37 Butterfly and the Benu Tourbillon in orange and titanium, it has demonstrated an openness to more lighthearted designs featuring its strong, signature lug design.
This not only inspires confidence in the future collectibility of the brand, but in the bright future of German watchmaking as a whole.