A watch is an 1)intricate piece of machinery. A mechanical jigsaw puzzle with as many as 460 pieces. Kerstin Richter sometimes works for two months on a single model, so it's no surprise she grows attached to them.
Kerstin Richter (Watchmaker): (via translator) When I've finished a watch like this then a small part of my soul has gone into it.
In the next workshop, Richter's colleague explains the most important attribute a watchmaker can have.
Watchmaker 1: (via translator) Patience, a lot of patience. Sometimes you have to start again from the beginning, although you were certain you'd done everything properly. The 2)chime might not sound the way it should, so you have to start all over again.
Time is something people here in Glashütte have in abundance. There is not a lot going on in this small town in eastern Germany, home to 7,000 people. More than 500 of them are watchmakers, and their products are in demand around the world.
3)Nomos Glashütte is one of the local brands. For the past 20 years it's been successfully marketing watches in 4)Bauhaus designs. Peace and quiet is apparently an advantage.
Resident 1: (via translator) It's quiet and remote. During the winter we are almost snowed in. That's when you can concentrate on making watches. You need that to make a good watch: calmness and reliability.
There is a long tradition of watchmaking in this town. In 1845, Ferdinand Adolph Lange set up the first business of its kind here, and his watches were quickly among the most exclusive available. He encouraged his apprentices to set themselves up in business, and a culture of watchmaking developed.
Under communist rule, the firms were 5)amalgamated and concentrated on mass production.
The 6)Glashütte Original company is what's left of the communist-era firm, but nowadays its products occupy the luxury segment of the market. 7)A. Lange & Söhne was refounded in 1990 after German reunification. The flagship, 8)Lange One, has won a lot of awards and is under constant9)revamping. Nomos Glashütte was likewise re-established in 1990 by entrepreneur Roland Schwertner. The design is rooted firmly in the past.
Roland Schwertner: (via translator) We had to reference the past in Glashütte. When we do new things in Glashütte, we can and we should connect them to the past. Searching through old books and documents on the history of Glashütte, we found lots of very fine pocket watches and devices.
But the mechanical workings are as modern as they can be.
Watchmaker 2: (via translator) The mechanics work very well. Nothing is 10)superfluous. We only need a few parts to solve all the technical problems. That makes the watch very reliable.
That's the case with 11)Nomos Tangente, one of the company's most successful models.
Schwertner: (via translator) Of course we have to keep developing this watch and improving it. It's not the same as it was. But there's still plenty of room for styling. That's the advantage of a classic: It never goes out of date.
Many of the watches from Glashütte are modern classics. And every new model becomes part of the town's legacy of watchmaking.