While Switzerland is the country that comes to mind when you think of the fine art of watchmaking, Germany isn’t far behind either. And since they’re well known for their high end craftsmanship in everything they do, Germans should be held in high regard in the watchmaking world as well.
Because they’ve got an equally rich tradition and offer astounding timepieces, with a craftsmanship comparable to that of Swiss watchmakers.
And there are plenty of German watch brands that you should know about, from the more artistic microbrands to the better known German watchmakers that have a rich heritage behind.
To show appreciation for the fantastic timepieces that come from Germany, we’ve decided to round up and present some of the best German watch brands that are still around today, both old and new.
For some of you, Leica might ring some alarm bells. Something’s wrong, isn’t? Leica is one of the most well regarded camera manufacturers in the world. What do they have to do with watchmaking?
Well, if you didn’t know yet, find out now that starting in 2018, Leica entered the watchmaking world. And they did so with the same design and technical excellence that brought them the fame in the world of photography.
Their first two timepieces, the L1 and the L2, have already impressed watch enthusiasts all over the world, bringing subtle, yet recognizable elements from their cameras into their watches. For the photography buffs out there, the crown on these watches will look very similar with a Leica camera shutter button.
But the similarities go beyond just looks, as the crown is designed to be pushed in rather than pulled out to stop the watch’s movement. Also of note is that the watches are made in Germany, and not anywhere else in the world, which is a very good thing.
Stefan Kudoke is an independent watchmaker, native from Germany, whose skills and expertise have been honed working for big names in the Swiss and German watchmaking industry, such as Breguet, Glashutte Original, Omega, or Blancpain.
He’s well known for specializing in skeletonizing and engraving existing movements, giving them a unique touch before fitting them inside some of the most interesting timepieces we’ve seen.
Hanhart’s story goes back to 1882, in the city of Schwenningen, where the center of Germany’s watchmaking tradition lies. They began crafting hand held stopwatches for athletes, but the early signs showing a looming WWII during the 1930s forced them into pilot chronograph watches.
Some of their best creations being from that period were the monopusher Calibre 40 models that came out in 1938, and the renowned Tachy Tele (featuring tachymeter and telemeter scales on the dial) that came out a year later along with the Calibre 41.
The innovations that the 1939 timepieces introduced have become the trademark of the company and are still present on their latest creations as well, including the bright red return-to-zero pusher, and the red marker at 12 o’clock that allowed recording longer times than 30 minutes recorded by the chronograph sub-dial.
Wempe is a family owned watchmaking company located in Hamburg, one that serves as a top retailer for other watch manufacturers, but also crafts their own timepieces. They were among the many clockmakers to be drafted during World War II to manufacture military equipment for the war effort.
The war left Hamburg in ruins, and the company was forced to start back from scratch. But the following decades saw a successful rebuild of the company, becoming one of the most well regarded watchmakers in Germany.
16. Daniel Malchert
Though recently established as a brand, Daniel Malchert garnered the watchmaking world’s attention with its first watch, the “Schlossberg”. An artist and individual master watchmaker, Daniel Malchert has set up his workshop in Quedlinburg, in Germany.
Besides creating his own collection of watches, he’s also working his magic for the likes of Longines and Omega, among many other names.
Founded back in 1921 as a small engineering shop in Frankfurt that is most known for its electric shavers and beard trimmers, Braun does craft watches and clocks as well.
Don’t expect anything like those that come out from the big names in horology, but they’re perfect for anyone who’s looking for something affordable, practical, minimalist, and built with respect to engineering principles.
If there’s one thing that should convince you of their design, is that since 1955, when the legendary designer Dieter Rams started collaborating with Braun, Apple began to draw the inspiration for their laptops, phones, and gadgets from Braun’s products.
14. Alexander Shorokhoff
Though Alexander Shorokhoff was born Moscow, today he crafts his gorgeous limited edition timepieces in Bavaria, since he set up shop there in 2003.
Shorokhoff’s inspiration are the iconic authors and artists that Russian culture gave to the world. Among them, there’s Fyodor Dostoevsky, Peter Tchaikovsky, Wassily Kandinsky, and Leo Tolstoy.
Its timepieces are distinct, unconventional, revolutionary, and blend together the creativity and that artistic style with a courageous exploration of what’s possible in the world of horology.
13. Lang & Heyne
Lang & Heyne is a younger watchmaker, founded in 2001 in Dresden, but it’s one of the most ritzy watch brands to have ever come from Germany. They work in the purest watchmaking tradition, crafting their timepieces by hand, using time-honored techniques only.
Their most impressive piece to date is the Georg, with its rectangular shaped case, and its astounding movement, called the Caliber VIII, one that strays far away from the traditional elements typically found in German made movements.
What Caliber VIII uses instead are impeccably finished bridges and wheels that combine together with a large screwed balance wheel held by a large balance bridge. The result is of an incredible beauty.
Established in 1927 by Walter Storz, Stowa reached its peak productivity during the 1930s and the 1940s, crafting Bauhaus style timepieces, and later, pilot watches for the Luftwaffe, to aid the German pilots fighting in Second World War.
The luxury watch company was passed on from father to son, and in 1996, it was acquired by Jörg Schauer from Werner Storz, Walter’s son. Recently, in 2021, Stowa eventually became part of Tempus Arte GmbH & Co. KG.
These days, Stowa conducts its operations exclusively online, and it’s well known for the impressive Flieger and Antea watch collections.
Though its manufacturing facilities are located in Switzerland, Montblanc is a German luxury watch brand founded in 1908 by engineer August Eberstein and German banker Alfred Nehemias. The company’s headquarters are in Hamburg, so we’ll go ahead and call this a German company.
Another interesting thing about this watchmaker is that it’s not just a watchmaker and it wasn’t one for a very long time. Montblanc started as a luxury pens and leather goods manufacturer, and only entered the watchmaking world in 1997.
But instead of just buying a decent watch and strapping their name onto it, they chose to built them from the ground up, getting them very well regarded in the world of watchmakers.
MeisterSinger was started in 2001, with the sole goal of creating watches that are “unmatched in simplicity and clarity”.
That lead to an interesting concept of watches that have one hand only, something that was seen in the first clocks that were ever produced in the world, inspired by the sundial of times past. MeisterSinger chose to go back to the origins.
Though incredibly simple, their designs are among the most unique in the watchmaking industry, with their most famous being the No. 01. Just one hand and large Arabic numerals around a nice and clean dial.
9. Mühle Glashütte
As the oldest family owned watchmaking company in Germany, Mühle Glashütte comes with a rich history that started back in 1869 in Saxony.
The interesting part is that their first ever wristwatch came out in 1996, having only produced time measuring instruments for the German Watchmaking School and motorcycle speedometers, automobile dashboard counters and onboard timers for military planes, forced by the needs sparked by the two world wars.
Some of their most famous timepieces are the S.A.R. Rescue Timer, produced for the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service, and the S.A.R. Flieger Chronograph, for search and rescue pilots. Despite the military origins, Mühle Glashütte’s line of watches includes today several luxury and sports models as well.
Damasko, founded in 1994, started from the idea that the high performance materials that the company’s founder developed for the aerospace industry would make for some of the most durable watches in the world. And so Konrad Damasko set out to crafting some of the world’s toughest timepieces.
Damasko even used to supply Sinn with hardened watch cases up until 2002. The company makes its own, in-house movements, and also has made other innovations in the field as well, developing its own silicon balance spring, known as the EPS spiral, and a silicon escape wheel.
Archimede is a family owned company that was established back in 1924, but only recently, in 2003, started to make watches commercially. What’s special about Archimede is that it’s one of the few watch companies to design, prototype, craft, and finish all their cases completely in house.
The Ickler cases, as they’re called, are machined from a single block of stainless steel, and used for the entire range of Archimede watches, but also provided to other German watchmakers as well.
6. A. Lange & Söhne
As one of the top end and most iconic German watch brands to come from Glashütte, the A. Lange & Söhne name should sound extremely familiar to most watch enthusiasts. The company story begins in 1845, after being founded by the legendary watchmaker Ferdinand Adolph Lange.
The level of artistry and the exceptional attention to detail that characterizes all the A. Lange & Söhne timepieces have made this company one of the most reputable in the world.
The stunning Lang floral pattern, engraved by hand on each of their timepieces’ balance cock, is their signature and company trademark, as a proof of their astonishing craftsmanship and artistry.
5. Glashütte Original
Though Glashütte Original as we know it today was founded in 1994, the company’s history is a bit more complex and its roots go a long way back, as far as 1845, when the first watchmakers came to the small town of Glashütte, in Saxony, making it the center of German watchmaking.
After World War II ended, the Soviet Union brought all the watch companies in Glashütte under the same umbrella, called the Volkseigener Betrieb Glashutter Uhrenbetriebe, or GUB. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, and of course, the Berlin Wall, this watchmaking conglomerate was allowed to be privatized in 1994, giving birth to Glashütte Original, as we know it today.
The company still keeps all the traditional watchmaking techniques that have been used during its long history.
4. Nomos Glashütte
Nomos Glashütte is another one of the companies that rose after the fall of the Soviet Union. It was founded right after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in January 1990, by Roland Schwertner, with its first collection released only two years later, in 1992.
They’re well known for their highly cherished Bauhaus style watches such as the much impressive OG Tangente 38, but they’ve strayed away from this path with sportier collections such as the Ahoi divers and the Autobahn racing timepieces.
Unlike other companies that have their roots in the rich heritage of Glashütte, Sinn was born in 1961 in Frankfurt, under the name Helmut Sinn Spezialuhren, founded by Helmut Sinn, a former WWII pilot, hence the company’s specialization on pilot watches.
Later on, in 1994, it was acquired by Lothar Schmidt and renamed to Sinn Spezialuhren, continuing with a heavy emphasis on highly functional tool watches and departing even more from the traditional German aesthetic.
Among their most cherished timepieces is the U1 dive watch, crafted from German Submarine Steel, with a bezel treated with the company’s Tegiment technology, which increases the hardness level even more.
Erhard Junghans started his eponymous company back in 1861. Junghans produced clocks, and in 1903 it was the largest clock manufacturer in the world, with a production of more than 3 million clocks that year.
The company’s first wristwatch was born many years later, placing the company on the path to becoming one of the big names in the watchmaking industry during the 1950s.
Junghans, as we know it today, collaborates with Siwss designer Max Bill, who helped the company create some of their most iconic timepieces, inspired by the Bauhaus movement.
Born as Lacher & Co. in 1925, in Pforzheim, Laco has been one of the companies that were contracted to produce pilot watches for the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War.
Keeping to its tradition, Laco continues to produce some of the most popular flieger watches in the industry, some, very high end timepieces that use Swiss movements, but also more affordable ones that are powered by Japanese movements, so that they can make them available to more people.
But that doesn’t mean they stick to aviation style pieces, as they’ve got a range of divers as well, and even a superb collection of dress watches.
The German watchmaking world is pretty big, comparable even to the Swiss watchmaking industry. That makes them a top player when it comes to anything, from high quality affordable watches to high end timepieces with exceptional craftsmanship.
Some of the watch brands we’ve presented come with a rich horology heritage, and naturally high prices, but there’s also a few that create more affordable watches for people who are just starting their journey into the mesmerizing world of watches.