The story behind Moritz Grossmann watches – by Robin Young
Part 1: “No Moritz Grossmann, no Glashütte”
2018 is Moritz Grossmann’s tenth anniversary. We are new and less well-known to many people, but our story is very rich. I’m telling it in small bites, week by week, starting with a bold assertion: today’s extraordinary Glashütte watch industry couldn’t exist without Grossmann’s contribution.
If you don’t know Glashütte, it is a tiny town tucked away in beautiful Saxon hills, near Dresden in eastern Germany. 7,000 people live there, yet it is home to ten high-end watch brands, including A. Lange & Sohne, Glashütte Original and Nomos.
Although these brands have sprung to life since reunification – Moritz Grossmann being the newest – Glashütte’s watchmaking history goes way back. With support from the Saxon court, F.A. Lange moved his watch business from Dresden to Glashütte in 1845 to save the former mining town from destitution. Lange persuaded three of his close friends – Julius Aasmann, Adolf Schneider and Moritz Grossmann to follow him. They built a world-renowned industry within a generation.
All four were prolific technical innovators and exquisite watchmakers. So why do I say no Grossmann, no Glashütte? He provided the social glue. He saw that for a town to thrive, it needed more than merely work. So he ran the social club; he ran the sports club; he led the choir; he started the fire brigade – he even had the railway built so that people could travel easily to and from Dresden.
But his master-stroke was to start the German School of Watchmaking in 1878. This one act secured the pipeline of talent to enable the town to be entirely self-sufficient.
And it won him many hearts. When you visit today, the Watch Museum is housed in Grossmann’s old school building. When I first visited, my guide Julia almost cried when describing how Grossmann died too young, leaving a widow, a two-year-old son and a legacy – but no on-going business.
The museum has a very rare Grossmann pocket watch with a 7.5 minute repeater, chiming eight times per hour. I guess he made it because he achieved eight times more each day than any normal person could imagine.
Lange had the vision. Grossmann added the soul. Today’s Moritz Grossmann is bringing that soul back to life.