The Best of German Watchmaking

The Best of German Watchmaking

| 05.02.24

You’d be forgiven for operating under the assumption that the horological buck stops with the Swiss. Indeed, for much of watchmaking history, this was the case. But since 1994 — the year that A. Lange & Söhne launched its first four models — German watchmaking has been experiencing a grand resurgence. Since then, Lange itself — but also brands such as NOMOS, Sinn, and others — have had an outsized impact upon the greater watch industry. And that impact, far from being relegated to high-end pieces, runs the gamut from affordable, Bauhaus-influenced everyday watches to hard-wearing tool watches to exquisite, one-off creations.

A 19th-century view of Glashütte.

Much of this watchmaking prowess is concentrated in Glashütte, a town not far from Dresden and the historic home of German horology. In the early 19th century, Ferdinand Alfred Lange, having observed the Swiss cottage-based watchmaking model, founded a similar industry there, training young watchmakers and producing high-end pocket watches. Others, including names now familiar to us via their eponymous brands —  Mortiz Grossmann, for example — soon joined the fray. By the early 20th century, some of this industry was dying off, having ignored the ascendency of the wristwatch following WWI. Rampant inflation and a widespread economic downturn also played its part, followed closely by the German defeat during the Second World War.

Walter Lange - (Image by A.Lange & Söhne)

After decades of Soviet occupation, the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 meant fresh opportunities for the German watch industry — and once again, it was a Lange who came to the rescue. Walter Lange, great-grandson of F.A. Lange, had been waiting his entire adult life to wade into the family business. In 1994, A. Lange & Söhne launched its first collections, and its success once again shed light on Glashütte, and German watchmaking more generally. These days, one can purchase a Lange for several tens of thousands of dollars (and more) — but also, a NOMOS for a few thousand dollars, or a Glashütte Original at a price point somewhere in between.

Screw-mounted gold chatons on an  A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1

German watchmaking also has its own telltale hallmarks: The three-quarter plate, for example, or the use of screw-mounted gold chatons, or Glashütte striping — which, while similar to côte de Genève, is wider. Other hallmarks — the influence of the Bauhaus movement upon dial and case design, or the use of serious, teutonic typography — are readily visible in many designs stemming from German marques. Quality, utility, and reliability are of course expected from any German product, and watches from the likes of Lange, Sinn, and others do not disappoint. 

At Analog:Shift, we maintain a variety of German-made timepieces in our inventory, from humble and affordable (but beautiful) examples from NOMOS to unique pieces from smaller outfits such as Kudoke. Check back wit us frequently to see what’s in stock, and as always, give us a shout if there’s something specific you’re searching for. 

NOMOS Orion ($1,700)


Founded, like A. Lange & Söhne, in the wake of German reunification, NOMOS builds excellent, Bauhaus-inspired watches in Glashütte. Powered by in-house movements, its wares are incredibly affordable given their quality and the company’s vertical integration. This Orion, for example, with its 35mm steel case; dark grey dial; simple ‘stick’ hands and indices; and mechanical, in-house Alpha calibre gives you everything you want — and nothing you don’t — in a handsome, highly comfortable package.

Sinn 756 Chronograph ($2,950)

Sinn 756 Chronograph - IN THE SHOP

Few watch companies, German or otherwise, put as much thought into their tool watches as Sinn. (Being founded by a renowned pilot and flight instructor, Helmutt Sinn, certainly doesn't hurt.) This 756 rethinks the traditional dual-register chronograph layout by placing a 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock and a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock. This — combined with the ample lume, “tegimented” case treatment, automatic Valjoux 7750 movement, and matching H-link bracelet — make it a highly compelling proposition, indeed. 

Heuer Bundeswehr ($4,400)

HEUER Bundeswehr - IN THE SHOP

This Heuer is admittedly a Swiss-made watch — but its end client is distinctly German. In the 1960 and ‘70s, it was issued to the air force West German Bundeswher, or armed forces, and has since taken on iconic status. Housed in a substantial 43mm case, it features a bi-directional count-up bezel; a dual-register, 30-minute chronograph; tritium lume; dual barrel pushers; and a Bundenswher-signed caseback. Powered by the hand-wound Valjoux 230, it also hides a secret: flyback functionality, meaning it doesn’t have to be stopped before being restarted.  

Glashütte Original Sport Evolution Panorama Date ($11,950)

Glashütte Original Sport Evolution Panorama Date - IN THE SHOP

Similarly to fellow Saxon brand A. Lange & Söhne, Glashütte Original makes use of the outsize date function to add interest to its dials. Unlike Lange, however, G.O. makes a largely traditional dive watch with a rotating timing bezel and a black dial. The outsize date, present at 4 o’clock, is powered by the automatic Glashütte Original Caliber 39-42 movement with 44 jewels and a power reserve of 40 hours. The 42mm rose gold case, meanwhile, lends a touch of elegance and refinement not present in the majority of tool watches.  

Kudoke 2 Black Piece Unique ($16,500)

Kudoke 2 Black Piece Unique - IN THE SHOP

We bet you’ve never seen a watch quite like this one before — frankly, neither have we! Fashioned by German watchmaker Stefan Kudoke, this incredible, 39mm piece is a compelling mixture of classic watchmaking tropes — an ‘onion’ crown, a handcrafted dial, a beautifully decorated, manually-wound movement — and contemporary touches: Take a closer look at the dial, and you’ll notice the beautifully designed day/night indicator below 12 o’clock; flip it over, and you’ll find a rose gold balance cock and brand plate, which were personal requests from the watch’s commissioning buyer.  

Lange & Söhne Lange 1 ($36,250)

Lange & Söhne Lange 1 - IN THE SHOP

Upon its debut in 1994, the Lange 1 came to define not just the rebirth of A. Lange & Söhne, but the potential of German watchmaking as a whole. With its outsized date inspired by the Semperoper opera house in Dresen; its asymmetric dial layout; and its exquisitely finished, hand-wound movement, it quickly became a modern classic, blossoming into its own product family and becoming the signature piece in many a collection. This particular execution, with its 38.5mm rose gold case and its Caliber L901.0 movement, is not only a beautiful everyday watch — it’s also arguably one of the most important watch designs of the past 50 years.