Around the world, there are countries that have established themselves as watchmaking nations. These countries not only have the artisans and technicians making timepieces but also possess related industries or access to such industries relatively nearby to them. Among the countries that have proven watchmaking capabilities are Switzerland, Germany, China, Russia and Japan. Without a doubt, collectors and enthusiasts of timepieces are well aware and tend to seek out watches coming out from these countries. While there are other countries that can lay the claim of having watchmakers residing within them, the aforementioned countries have long established themselves by fulfilling the necessary criteria and producing high quality watches for a truly long time.
Switzerland may easily takes the top spot for being the country that is most related to traditional watchmaking, but Germany is also a nation that has no less of a storied history when it comes to possessing these skills. German watchmaking began in Pforzheim in the 18th century but its real prominence and growth flourished as watchmakers began to gather in Glashütte in the 19th century. It was probably here that German watches began to develop a unique identity separate from their Swiss counterparts. Brands such as Laco began in 1925 making watches for the military. It was during World War II that Laco became famous making watches for the German Luftwaffe. The German pilots required high precision timepieces for navigating their military excursions and Laco (in its original form, Lacher & Co) qualified by supplying them with what would become the first pilot watches.
Laco Erbstück is one of their many Pilot watches. Photo by Laco
Today, Laco’s heritage in making pilot watches during World War II are perpetuated by their world famous timepieces which are seen as a contemporary representative to fulfill the demand for accuracy and functionality in such watches. Conversely, the German watch brand Zeppelin was born only recently in 2002 but retains the values of German watchmaking. Their timepieces hark back to the romance of flying and airships of the past. The name Zeppelin itself refers to the famous blimps in the early 1900s.
LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin. Photo by Zeppelin
Subsequent to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the German watch industry saw the rise of several new brands as well as some traditional brands that have existed prior to World War II regaining their prominence. These brands may craft their watches through either their own watch component supply network within the country or from neighbouring Switzerland. Nevertheless, most of them retain the identity of German watchmaking and their watches display elements that are unique to German watchmaking. The traditional ideologies behind German watches, being high precision engineering and minimalist and functional aesthetics, are continuously retained in timepieces coming out from their watch manufacturing facilities.
(Picture credit: Laco)