BOOKREVIEW by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

Die Quarzrevolution – 75 Jahre Quarzuhr in Deutschland

By Johannes Graf (Editor) et al.


Die Quarzrevolution – 75 Jahre Quarzuhr in Deutschland. Vorträge anlässlich de Tagung im Deutschen Uhrenmuseum Furtwangen am 20. und 21. August 2007 [The Quartz Revolution – Papers given on occasion of the Symposium at the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Furtwangen on August 20/21 2007]. By Johannes Graf (Editor) et al. Published 2008, as Volume 2, Furtwanger Beiträge zur Uhrengeschichte, Neue Folge, by Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Furtwangen; in German; Paperback, 250x200 mm; numerous illustrations in b&w; ISBN 3-922-673-27-9.

In the summer of 2007 some of the historians who have studied the history of the quartz timekeeper assembled at the German Clock Museum in Furtwangen for a scholarly symposium. Now the thirteen papers presented there are available in book form, and the organizers deserve the gratitude of the horological community for enriching the horological literature in an area where there is little published research.

The papers are reproduced in the language they were presented, one in English, 12 in German. Given the focus of the symposium nine of the papers deal with the German contribution to quartz timekeeping, but the other four point beyond Germany:
• “The First Quartz Clock” (1927, USA), by Carlene Stephens of the Smithsonian
• “Quartz Timekeeping in England and France 1930-1950”, by Eduard Saluz
• “The first portable, battery powered quartz timekeeper by Patek Philippe” (Switzerland, 1957), by Michael Schuldes
• “The eight paths to quartz wristwatches”, by Lucien Trueb.

The papers focusing on Germany include
• “Adolph Scheibe & Udo Adelsberger”, exploring the contribution of these research physicists to develop quartz timekeepers in Berlin in the 1930s, by Horst Hassler.
• “The Challenge of Quartz Timekeepers”, an industry wide look at the problems facing the German horological industry in the 1970s, by Johannes Graf.
• “Quartz clocks from St.Georgen 1970-1990”, the history of product development at Staiger GmbH, by Reinhard Jäckle.
• “Development of Quartz Timekeepers at Junghans”, by Friedrich Assmus
• “Quartz at Hanhart – a detour before returning to mechanics”, by Manfred Schwer
• “Quartz watches from Thuringia” explores the development in communist eastern Germany, by Artur Kamp
• “Quartz from the perspective of a clockmauufacturer” explores the quartz challenge that the Hermle company faced, by Gerd Hermle.
• “Quartz Clocks at VDO”, covers the topic from the perspective of Germanys leading manufacturer of automotive instrumentation, by Günter Hahlgass
• “The path toward the first German quartz wristwatch”, presents a summary by Alfred Leiter.

The greatest value of this series of papers is that most of them speak in the voice of the people who were in the midst of this revolutionary technology change from the 1960s to the 1990s. The majority of authors were in key management roles in the horological industry at that time, but then could not document and publish what was going on for competitive reasons. The timing for the symposium was perfect, the key actors are still alive to tell their story, but technology has moved on and there is no longer the need for secrecy concerning what the companies were doing then.

The resulting book documents a key chapter in the horological history, the technological history and the industrial history of Germany. The Deutsches Uhrenmuseum deserves the appreciation of the global community of horological scholars for organizing the conference and publishing the book.


Fortunat Mueller-Maerki
Sussex, NJ
July 2008