The Germans and the Swiss are known for their punctuality. It's no wonder their watch industries are among the best in the world, says Annabelle Mallia.
A watchmaking industry that matches the German obsession with punctuality.
Watches from Swiss manufactures have rightfully earned their status as the crème de
la crème of timepieces. There's the technical perfection and timeless allure of a Rolex wristwatch (Kurfürstendamm 184), the pure luxury of Chopard (Kurfürstendamm 54, www.chopard.com), and the extraordinary pieces by Maurice Lacroix (Friedrichstr. 166, www.mauricelacroix.com), with particular expertise in chronographs and moon-phase indications. Then there's Hublot (Kurfürstendamm 56, www.hublot.com), best known for its avant-garde sports watches worn by stars such as Usain Bolt and combining centuries-old craft with innovative technology.
However, brands based here in Germany have definitely caught up with the exclusive club of Swiss manufacturers. The undisputed center of the German watchmaking industry, the town of Glashütte, is once again thriving after half a century of dormancy, having recovered from WWII and communism. This little village near Dresden has a watch company on almost every street. Glashütte
Original is particularly noteworthy, as is A. Lange & Söhne, the granddaddy of them all. Using only gold and platinum and astounding attention to detail, it produces some of the best timepieces in the world. A more affordable newcomer thriving in the midst of the old masters is
Nomos, mixing Bauhaus style with an element of fun.
The Black Forest town of Pforzheim is another watchmaking hub and home to the brand Stowa, selling updated models of the original Flieger watches worn by Luftwaffe pilots in WWII. Another favorite among adventurers is the Sinn name, said to be able to survive an apocalypse. Their use of clever innovations, such as submarine steel and injected Argon gas, makes the watches almost indestructible. While these brands don't have boutiques of their own in Berlin, they can be found at luxury jewelry stores such as Wempe (Kurfürstendamm 215, www. wempe.com) and Bucherer (Kurfürstendamm 45, www.bucherer.com). But for a watch with a Berlin heart, check out Lilienthal Berlin. Their lively and colorful designs are all the rage among young Berliners, and can be bought online on www.lilienthal.berlin.
The colorful "Götterfunken" set by Lilienthal Berlin. Inset, below: Chopard