German clock museum

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Main entrance

The German Clock Museum is located in the center of the city of Furtwangen (Baden-Württemberg) and is part of the Furtwangen University (HFU).

The museum is dedicated to the history of timing devices . One focus is on craft and industrial watch production in the Black Forest . The collection includes early cuckoo clocks from the 18th century and the prototype of today's Black Forest souvenir.

Around a third of the visitors book a personal tour in which clocks and musical instruments are also set in motion. Especially during the holiday season, children can build and design a watch themselves in the “watch workshop”. For school classes, the museum offers themed workshops in modules, some of which are tailored to the educational plan. The collection includes 8000 objects; around 1300 clocks are on permanent display. In addition to watches, the collection also includes a company writing archive and a specialist library for German-language literature.

Interactive tour

In 2006 the museum was selected as one of 365 locations that represented Germany in the Federal President's “ Land of Ideas ” competition . In 2008 the museum received the “Anchor Point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage ” award . The museum was honored as a landmark on the German Clock Route , which connects the watchmaking sites in the region.

In 2010 the museum had 60,000 visitors.


On a wall clock , the first museum building, around 1880 (Inv. 2011-044)

In 1852 Robert Gerwig, director of the Grand Ducal Baden Watchmaking School in Furtwangen, began collecting old clocks as evidence of traditional craftsmanship.

In 1858 the collection was shown for the first time at the Black Forest industrial exhibition in Villingen .

From 1874 the historical clocks and current products from the region could be seen permanently in the newly built industrial hall.

In 1925, the first printed collection catalog of the Adolf Kistner Historical Clock Collection showed over 1,000 clocks.

In 1959 a new building was inaugurated, which had been erected on the site of the dilapidated wooden building.

In 1975, the state of Baden-Württemberg bought the important watch collection of the Kienzle watch factories and handed them over to the museum. Due to the additions to the pocket and renaissance watch sector , the historical watch collection was renamed the German watch museum in 1978 .

In 1992 the current museum building was inaugurated. Today the German Clock Museum is part of the Furtwangen University .

Permanent collection

Since 2010 the museum has shown a permanent exhibition on the development of clocks and the concept of time in occidental culture on 1,400 square meters. In addition to improving the accuracy of the timepieces, the various needs that the watches awakened and satisfied in their respective time are also shown. Therefore, in addition to top pieces, watches are also presented that are historically very important despite their low price at the time. This is what distinguishes the German Clock Museum from clock collections that show rare and expensive pieces that are more typical of everyday life.

The tour is divided into the areas of history from clock and time to industrialization, Black Forest clocks, pocket and wrist watches, modern times and mechanical musical instruments.

History from clock and time to industrialization

Until well into the 20th century, clocks were aligned with the (apparent) course of the sun or the stars in the sky. This connection becomes clear in the works of the priest mechanics of the 18th century, who built clockwork-driven models of the cosmos.

In addition to the astronomical calendar clock from the Benedictine father and later math professor Thaddäus Rinderle from 1787 (inv. 16-0033), the Copernican Planetarium (inv. 43-0002, 1774) and a globe clock (inv. 43-0001, before 1788) by Philipp Matthäus also belong to it Hahn to the collection.

Wooden clocks from the Black Forest

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Black Forest supplied the world with inexpensive large clocks . In many small watchmaker's workshops, clocks with movements made of wood were made, which, thanks to the cheap material, the use of special tools and machines and the division of labor, were unrivaled cheap.

A white primed and brightly painted wooden dial adorned the Black Forest wooden clocks throughout the 19th century. Covered with a colorless protective varnish, the signs were insensitive to moisture and dirt. From the second half of the 18th century, the lacquer shield clock dominated the European market. Later she found her way overseas and to the Far East. The design of the signs varied depending on the destination country. Black Forest dealers, the watch wearers, sold the watches on site.

Watch industry in the Black Forest

In the second half of the 19th century, watch factories replaced traditional home-made watch production. Initially, relatively small companies emerged that specialized in small series production of high-quality clocks based on traditional models. In the long run, however, those factories, above all in the Württemberg Black Forest and on the neighboring Baar plateau, that rely on new types of clocks such as alarm clocks adapted to the industrial work process have proven successful. Most households found “the right clock for every room”, from alarm clocks to kitchen clocks to buffet or wall clocks.

Pocket watches

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the sometimes voluminous neck watches were more valuable pieces of jewelry than reliable timepieces. It was not until around 1800 that the first pocket watches were available for wealthy circles and science, which in the best case showed the time to the nearest minutes. The pocket watch penetrated everyday life through industrial production in the second half of the 19th century.

Wrist watches

The technical prerequisites for the wristwatch were given in the 19th century. Jewelry straps with a built-in clock are preforms of the wristwatch. Nevertheless, their triumph did not take place until the beginning of the 20th century. Many pocket watches were rebuilt from 1900 and worn on the wrist with leather and metal straps. Women, especially those in employment, wore them as jewelry. Men were initially opposed to the new watch fashion; a bracelet was considered unmanly.

It was only athletes and the military who learned to appreciate the quick look at the clock. In the 1920s, the wristwatch also established itself among men.

In the 1970s, quartz movements almost completely replaced traditional mechanics. Mechanical works experienced a renaissance for the luxury market from the late 1980s.

modern times

Since the 1860s, clocks have been determining everyday life to the rhythm of the global machinery. This is why the historian Lewis Mumford (1895–1990) described the clock as the “key machine of the industrial age”.

Like most things in everyday life, the appearance and inner workings of the watch have fundamentally changed due to new production methods. The invention of electrical clocks and clock systems, and later of electronic quartz , atomic and radio clocks , had massive effects on the reality of life. The “Modern Times” section shows not only changes in technology but also how the relationship to time and clocks has changed since industrialization.

Individual evidence

  1. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from September 28, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /


  • Simone von der Geest: "Preserving and Sensualizing" - The German Clock Museum Furtwangen has been developing for 150 years. , in: Museum Aktuell, September 2002, pp. 3583–3586.
  • Helmut Kahlert , Richard Mühe , Magdalena Zeller: Brief history of the Black Forest clock. German Clock Museum, Furtwangen 2004, ISBN 3-922673-10-4 .
  • Katrin Hundorf, Eduard C. Saluz: Brief history of the wristwatch. German Clock Museum, Furtwangen o. J. (2005), ISBN 3-922673-14-7 .
  • Johannes Graf: Modern times. Time measurement on the way to the present. German Clock Museum, Furtwangen 2006, ISBN 3-922673-17-1 .
  • Carmen Haas, Eduard C. Saluz: A Brief History of Clock and Time. German Clock Museum, Furtwangen 2007, ISBN 3-922673-21-X .
  • Eduard C. Saluz: Brief history of the pocket watch. German Clock Museum, Furtwangen 2008, ISBN 3-922673-24-4 .

See also

Web links

Commons : German Clock Museum  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 48 ° 3 ′ 3.3 "  N , 8 ° 12 ′ 28.3"  E