VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe

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VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe Logo
VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe

VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe GUB
later: VEB Uhrenwerk Glashütte im Kombinat Mikroelektronik


Merger of nationalized watch companies in Glashütte

The VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe arose on Juli 1, 1951 from the merger of the 1946 nationalized Glashütte companies as follows:

  • VEB Lange Glashütte (former Lange & Söhne),
  • VEB UROFA with UFAG (former UROFA) and Basalt (Uhrsteinfertigung),
  • VEB Feintechnik (former Gössel & Co. or Burckhard),
  • VEB Meßtechnik (former Mühle & Sohn),
  • VEB Estler,
  • VEB Liwas (former Otto Lindig) and
  • Lehrkombinat Makarenkow.

From the beginning, according to the Glashütte tradition a high level of quality at the wristwatch production was specified and persevered through all movement designs. In the GDR the Glashütte watches were the top quality and in terms of income costed a fairly high price. High quality movements, coming from own production, were used, and also the quality of the cases was remarkable.

Interestingly, the watches were sold not only in Eastern Germany, but also in West Germany - there often in department store chains and under a different name - and till 1970 they contributed to the esteemed additional designation "Made in Germany". On the whole the models were good watches, but however they could never compete neither with the horological sophistication or with the outstanding reputation of the well-known Swiss brands.

Fusion with further companies

The concentration process of watch manufacturing in the GDR was continued in March 1967 with the merger of the

  • VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB),
  • VEB Uhren- und Maschinenfabrik Ruhla (UMF), and the
  • VEB Uhrenwerk Weimar

to the VEB Uhrenkombinat Ruhla, with totalled about 8,000 employees.

Products

During the communist era, VEB produced many watches and movements. These were generally not luxurious or even costly, but they were stylish and technically sound. Today, Glashütte watches from this period are considered collectible.

Introduced in 1964, the Glashütte "Spezimatic" was the most popular watch line in East Germany. Many millions of these watches were produced through 1980. The last new movement created by VEB was their Calibre 11-26, called "Spezichron". This would form the basis for the series of movements that brought Glashütte Original back to life in the 1990's and 2000's, laying the foundation for today's successes.

After the reunification of 1990

After the reunification of 1990 the VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe GUB became the Glashütter Uhrenbetrieb GmbH. This acted as legal successor of all previous watchmaking companies in Glashütte.

In the quartz watch production after 1990 temporarily Swiss Quartz movements of the type TTC Longlife were used in addition to own mechanical movements.

After the Treuhand (trust), at the completion of the privatization, in early 1993 had found the French ebauche manufacturer "France Ebauches" from Besancon as desired buyer, the future of the company seemed assured. However, it soon became apparent that the French were also in need of rehabilitation and not only lacked a coherent concept of survival, but also did not have the necessary capital for further investments. Only several months later, the fiduciary had to look for new owners.

The number of employees had shrunk from 2,000 to only 70. In October 1994 one was finally able to launch a new beginning, after a long search for a buyer. Under the direction of Heinz W. Pfeifer one took the only right step to the rescue: Instead of trying to engage in a continuation of the previous low-cost and mass production, the founders refocused on the still residual competence in manufacturing mechanical movements. The company was completely repositioned as a luxury brand under the name Glashütte Original. Both the model range and also the advertising campaign experienced a complete reorientation. The venture proved successful, because it succeeded in subsequent years and revived alongside the also Glashütte-based manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne, which was revived with the support of IWC or LMH. It was possible to develop a new, considerable reputation as watch producer in the upper price segment.

Literature