Clockworks Ruhla

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Gebrüder Thiel GmbH
VEB Uhrenwerke Ruhla
Gardé watches and precision mechanics Ruhla GmbH
legal form
founding between June 25, 1861 and March 1, 1862 (as a metal goods factory in Ruhla )
Seat Ruhla , Germany
Number of employees
  • 80 (1871)
  • 10,000 (1945)
Branch Watch industry , mechanical engineering

Uhrwerk Ruhla, main building

The VEB Ruhla watch movement was an operation in the DDR , based in Ruhla . The most famous products of the state- owned large company are watches .


Gebrüder Thiel GmbH

Advertisement for Gebrüder Thiel GmbH with a view of the factory (around 1920)

When the brothers Christian and Georg Thiel founded their metal goods factory in Ruhla / Thuringia, Köhlergasse 29 is not documented. The time is between June 25, 1861 (Christian wedding) and March 1, 1862 (first known inventory). The inventory shows an initial capital of 2,452 thalers . The company at that time started with pipe fittings as its main product and was one of several companies in Ruhla, which is explained by the metalworking that has been based there for centuries. After a short time, further small metal articles were produced, so that from 1871 sales were also generated abroad. At that time the company had 80 employees.

The profits allowed the company to expand rapidly. Georg Thiel founded his own company in 1867 and Christian Thiel bought into Bardenheuer's largest operation in Ruhla. In 1873 the company moved to the premises of the Reiss'schen Filzfabrik in Ruhlaer Grund, where the headquarters of the plant was until it was broken up. By using the water power through the hereditary current flowing through the area , the effectiveness could be further increased. Large-scale industrial production began in 1874. The triggering article was the children's music box. This was sold in large quantities to England and the USA. The total turnover in 1879 was 500,000 marks .

At the end of the 1880s, with the Ruhla pocket watch from 1891 , the company specialized in the future core business of watches, especially in inexpensive, but nevertheless reliable pocket watches. In 1897, 4,000 pieces per day were produced, and a further developed pocket watch was offered from 1901. At the same time, the development of special machines and tools for the manufacture of watches began.

The greatest profits were made in the First World War with the manufacture of fuses for grenades . In the course of the armament of the Wehrmacht , the subsidiary Gerätebau GmbH was established in the Mühlhausen city forest in 1937 , which was the main supplier of detonator movements for flak shells ( 8.8 / 10.5 and 12.8 cm flak ) during World War II . The office “Beauty of Work” awarded the company the title of “ National Socialist Model Company ”. At the end of the war, Thiel employed almost 10,000 people, the majority of whom were forced laborers and " Eastern workers ". After the occupation of Ruhla by US troops on April 8, 1945, work was initially suspended and the entire workforce was then dismissed.

publicly-owned business

Quartz wristwatch from 1982 with the dial signet 'Ruhla'
Pocket watch from Ruhla
A GARDE chess clock from the Uhrenwerke Ruhla

Production was resumed in the first half of July 1945 and in 1949 the highest production volume of 1938 was even surpassed. On May 1, 1952, the company was nationalized by decision of the government of the USSR . In the meantime, in what is now the VEB Uhren- und Maschinenfabrik (dial signet: UMF), the focus has been on large-scale production. In 1961, the first electric wristwatch in the GDR, the Ruhla electric, was presented as an in-house development at the Leipzig trade fair . The most successful model of this time was the caliber 24 . Wristwatches with this caliber were sold more than a hundred million times from 1963 to 1991. Of the model that was exported worldwide, up to 30,000 pieces were produced per day. On March 1, 1967, the watch factories Ruhla, Glashütte and VEB Uhrenwerk Weimar merged to form VEB Uhrenkombinat Ruhla (dial signet : Ruhla ), of which the former UMF plant manager Heinz Wedler became the director of the combine . From 1978 onwards, the company was renamed VEB Uhrenwerke Ruhla (UWR). As this he was the lead company of the newly created VEB Kombinat Mikroelektronik Erfurt , which also came under Wedler's direction.
In addition to watches, the factory also produced high-quality machine tools that, especially in the 1970s, met international standards.

Successor companies

After the fall of the Berlin Wall , the publicly owned combine was privatized in several parts by the Treuhandanstalt . The VEB Uhrenwerk Ruhla initially became the company "Uhrenwerke Ruhla GmbH", then about 40 new companies emerged from this or through the establishment of a new one, in Ruhla and Seebach these included Ruhlamat Automatisierungstechnik GmbH , SMR Sondermaschinen GmbH and DECKEL MAHO Seebach GmbH . Gardé Uhren und Feinmechanik Ruhla GmbH remained the only watch manufacturer in Ruhla . The company manufactured watches with the designation "Gardé" - under this name chess clocks were marketed in the GDR - as well as clocks with the designation "Ruhla".

After the insolvency of the Gardé company in summer 2019, the watch assembly and its employees, as well as the watch museum and the building were taken over by the long-standing customer POINT TEC Products Electronic GmbH , one of the largest German watch manufacturers. In the course of the takeover, the company was renamed Uhrwerke Ruhla GmbH again.


After 1990, the majority of the factory and production buildings were demolished, most recently in 2014 the administration tower built in the 1970s, popularly known as the “blue wonder”. The administration building from 1929, which today houses the Uhrenwerke Ruhla GmbH and a watch museum, was preserved.

The six-storey reinforced concrete skeleton building with clinker cladding was built in 1929 according to designs by the architectural office Schreiter & Schlag, who also designed the Zeiss Südwerk, the planetarium and the Capitol cinema in Jena .

See also


  • Hans-Heinrich Schmid : Lexicon of the German watch industry 1850–1980: company addresses, production program, company logos, brand names, company histories . Ed .: German Society for Chronometrie eV Erw. Edition. tape 2 . Historical watch books publishing house , Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-941539-99-0 .
  • Jürgen Schreiber: Watches - machine tools - armaments. The family business Gebrüder Thiel from Ruhla 1862-1972 , Cologne; Weimar; Vienna: Böhlau Verlag 2017 ISBN 978-3-412-50688-9 .
  • 125 years of Uhrenwerke Ruhla. In: Old clocks. Volume 4, 1988, p. 7 f.

Web links

Commons : Uhrenwerke Ruhla  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gardé company homepage. Retrieved November 19, 2017 .
  2. a b c d e History of VEB Uhrenwerke Ruhla , requested on January 7, 2009
  4. a b Burgseekurier: Zeitzeichen from the Thuringian Forest ( Memento from May 30, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  5. The ruhlamat company history
  6. accessed on May 25, 2013
  7. Takeover of Gardé employees - GZ-Online. Retrieved March 2, 2020 .
  8. ↑ The Blue Wonder in Ruhla is being torn down , Thüringer Allgemeine from January 16, 2014
  9. Dietmar Grosser: 30,000 clocks a day came from Ruhla , Thüringer Allgemeine from October 31, 2014

Coordinates: 50 ° 54 ′ 10.5 ″  N , 10 ° 22 ′ 3.2 ″  E