Ulrike Kranz - Glashütte Original
For its May meeting, the Horological Society of New York welcomes a special guest from Germany, Ulrike Kranz. Kranz will lecture on the history of the German Marine Chronometer, a topic she is very familiar with after her time working at the German Watch Museum and position today at Glashütte Original. In addition to the evening lecture, a selection of historic timepieces from the German Watch Museum will be on display.
With the founding of the German Empire in 1871 and growing interest in international trade, the German Navy became more and more important to the German government. To reduce reliance on English imports (including the well-known English marine chronometers), significant support was provided to encourage the production of marine chronometers in Germany. In 1886 the first marine chronometers from Glashütte were sent to the German Naval Observatory in Hamburg for testing. In the following years, numerous innovations and technical improvements brought international attention to marine chronometers manufactured in Glashütte.
After World War II Germany was divided, but the production of chronometers in Glashütte continued. The state-owned company VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe took up the tradition and manufactured a large number of both mechanical and quartz marine chronometers. These were deployed primarily on GDR ships but also exported worldwide.
Although today navigation at sea is performed around the world using GPS, Glashütte in Saxony remains a significant location for the production of marine chronometers and observation watches. Following the reunification of Germany, the Glashütte astronomical observatory was restored. Today it houses a chronometer testing facility, which also officially certifies the chronometers made by Glashütte Original – the legal successor of the VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe.