BOOKREVIEW: Mechanical Wristwatches from Glashutte, by W. Heinrich (2007)

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Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

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Sep 23, 2001

Mechanische Armbanduhren aus Glashutte, 1950 -1980
By Werner Heinrich

Mechanische Armbanduhren aus Glashutte, 1950 -1980 Werke, Kaliber, Gehäuse [Mechanical Wristwatches from Glashutte, 1950-1980, Movements Calibers, Cases]
By Werner Heinrich. Published 2007 (First edition) by Callway Verlag, Munchen, Germany; hardcover, dust jacket; 255 pages; 1100 illustrations; ISBN 978-3-7667 1719 1. Available from the publisher ( ), approx. US$145 plus postage.

The town of Glashutte in the Saxony region of Germany has a stellar reputation among watch collectors: This is where Adolph Lange, and others, made the finest pocketwatches ever produced in Germany onehundert years ago. It is of course also the location of the rebirth of the “Made in Germany” high-grade (wrist)watch industry in the years since the collapse of the communist regime in East Germany.

What is less known, particularly outside of Germany, is what kind of watches was produced there between those two periods of excellence. The book under review is one of the first attempts to systematically catalogue what kind of horology was produced in Glashutte in the communist era. The leading producer of wristwatches during that time was VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe, commonly referred to as “GUB”. Translated into English that means: “The Peoples’ owned Factory of Glasshutte Watch Enterprise”. This enterprise produced most of the good quality East German watches of the communist era, but unfortunately they neither kept complete records documenting their product range, nor where they in the habit of producing comprehensive catalogs of all the models they offered. But watch collectors still collected GUB mechanical wristwatches.

Now Werner Heinrich, one of the most knowledgeable collectors of GUB products, and a lifelong resident of eastern Germany, has finally filled this void and produced –based on the records of himself and of other prolific collectors of that specialty- a well researched documentation focusing exclusively on wristwatches produced in Glashutte between 1950 and 1980, when mechanical watches were mostly abandoned at GUB in favor of Quartz timekeepers.

The book is structured by eleven different caliber groups in roughly chronological order. Two of the caliber groups (cal.63 and cal.08/09) were used only for ladies wristwatches. For each caliber there are large photographs of the movement from both the dial side and from the balance side, as well as listing the various technical specifications, including dimensions. Years of manufacturing and estimates for number of movements produced are also given. Furthermore for more recent calibers a complete illustrated parts list is also reproduced. Besides movement information images (at 100% of an actual size) of the various case styles used with that movement (including dials and hands) are reproduced. A glossary and short bibliography conclude the book.

Due to its clear and logical structure this book is a most useful reference tool for any wristwatch collector whose interests include Glashutte made mechanical watches from the post Worldwar II era. GUB enthusiasts who can’t read German are of course somewhat handicapped as the text is all in German. But given the nature of the book as a documentation and catalog rather than as a narrative anybody not in command of the German language will still profit greatly from the book, especially id s/he has made the effort to assemble a short translation list of the most often used technical terms.

Heinrich’s book fills a void in the horological literature, and it does so competently and thoroughly. This is a “must buy” for anybody planning to add any East German wristwatches of this era to his or her horological holdings.

Submitted by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki (New Jersey)
31 October 2007


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