The town of Glashütte, Germany—what is now the center of the German watchmaking industry—is truly in the middle of nowhere. About a 45-minute drive from Dresden, Glashütte is a small village, not unlike Switzerland’s La Chaux-de-Fonds–both places where watchmaking enterprises congregated.
And like that Swiss village, I found the village to be very charming, calm and quaint, and the sidewalks roll up at night and nothing happens.
Unlike La Chaux-de-Fonds, upheaval came to Glashütte in the form of the German Democratic Republic. The thriving independent watchmakers of Saxony were appropriated by the State and a new watch production collective was formed—the VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe(GUB). For more than three decades, these accomplished watchmakers worked on making watches for East German and worldwide customers, focusing on high quality standard timepieces.
When the Berlin Wall fell, and glasnost reigned, the collective economy was dismantled and the GUB was privatized.
Out of the ashes of the GUB was born Glashütte Original, which is still housed today in the (since renovated and transformed) GUB building.