Wel­come to Glashütte, the eastern Ger­man vil­lage over­run with world-class watch­mak­ers

▶ Glashütte’s watch­mak­ers pros­per as Switzer­land re­trenches ▶ “We’re a very well-kept se­cret, al­most like stealth wealth”

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Con­tents -

The eastern Ger­man vil­lage of Glashütte doesn’t look like much: just a hand­ful of streets stretch­ing up and down a nar­row val­ley from a bare sta­tion plat­form, where trains de­part once an hour for the 45-minute trip to Dres­den. Look more closely, though, and you’ll find

that the town of 7,000 is home to the great­est con­cen­tra­tion of world-class watch­mak­ers out­side Switzer­land—with a busi­ness that’s grow­ing even as Swiss pro­duc­ers re­trench. The town pro­duced more than 32,000 watches last year, with a to­tal re­tail value of at least €500 mil­lion ($565 mil­lion), ac­cord­ing to an­a­lyst es­ti­mates. These aren’t Timexes. Glashütte’s 10 watch­mak­ers tend to­ward the high end, and the prici­est lo­cal pro­ducer, A. La Lange & Söhne, has b built a repu uta­tion that com­pares fa­vor­ably with those of giants Patek Philippe and Aude­mars

Piguet. Some ofo its watches topto €1.9 mil­lion, and the brand car­ri­escarri an av­er­age price of roughly €50,000.€50,0 “Our cus­tomers like that not ev­ery­one knows what they have around their wrist,” says Wil­helm Sch­mid, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Lange, whose prod­ucts have been spot­ted on the arms of Brad Pitt and Clint East­wood. “We’re a very well-kept se­cret, al­most like stealth wealth.”

The Ger­man in­dus­try, though far smaller than Switzer­land’s, is less de­pen­dent on sales to China, where the watch busi­ness has been ham­mered by an an­ti­cor­rup­tion ef­fort that has re­duced gift- giv­ing. And with most ex­penses in eu­ros, pro­duc­ers have been able to keep costs in check, un­like Swiss ri­vals that have to deal with the ris­ing franc. Switzer­land’s

Richemont said in Fe­bru­ary it may cut as many as 350 jobs in the coun­try, but the two main brands in Glashütte say they’re hir­ing. Ger­man watch ex­ports last year jumped 14 per­cent as Switzer­land’s fell 3.3 per­cent, govern­ment data show.

Still, the Ger­mans may soon face the prob­lems that have hit the Swiss, cau­tions René We­ber, an an­a­lyst at Bank Von­to­bel in Zurich. Europe’s

A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Re­peater, $498,000 It can strike dif­fer­ent tones hourly and at 10and 1-minute in­ter­vals.

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