3,000 Feet with Mühle Glashütte
By: Jeffrey P. Hess
As a watch collector, I am always on the lookout for small watch brands that have an unusual look, a feel that is substantial and a bit of flair for the dramatic. As a small retailer - always looking to improve my watch lines - I look for up-and-coming brands that produce watches that are very saleable and that in telling their story actually help me to sell that brand. And cumulatively, as a collector and a retailer, I look for brands that I would wear myself and brands that have a proven record of making fine watches that are out of the normal mold and which are not afraid to step up to promote themselves.
The firm of Mühle Glashütte is a rare one that fits the bill on all counts. Mühle Glashütte, known for years as a maker of fine nautical instruments, has built on that reputation to make watches that, while originating from what is unarguably one of the biggest watchmaking capitals of the world, have an appeal that extends to every inch of the globe. Mühle Glashütte watches are highly sought after by casual wearers, professionals and collectors from Japan to the USA and back to Germany. They have secretly made important parts for many of the world's most well-known watch companies.
Hans-Jurgen Mühle is the uber boss of the reborn firm that has over 130 years of tradition since the firm was founded as "Robert Mühle & Sohn" in 1869 while making fine mechanical tools and measuring instruments that have been the specialty items manufactured at the House of Mühle.
Founded anew by a direct descendant one year after exproopriation in 1946, the renewed Mühle company specialized in drive and braking mechanisms, as well as measuring instruments for a myriad of uses.
Hans-Jürgen Mühle, who naturally felt indebted to the heritage of the house of Mühle, took over the family business after the death of his father in 1970 in the midst of the East German difficulties. This state participation and compulsory nationalization was a bit of a problem to be sure. But it did not hold down the fire nor temper the innovation. Even through the takeover of the company by Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe in 1980, he kept the faith. And soon - in 1994 - Hans-Jürgen Mühle, again the sole owner of "Firma Mühle, Nautische Instrumente & Feinmechanik," was back at the helm of the family erterprise and once again sat down to the drawing board with unlimited ideas. Not surpringly, he was immediately successful in combining 21st century manufacturing and free-thinking innovation with the proven German tenaciousness and values of the past, along with innovative ideas for the future in the third coming of the Mühle company in Glashütte. By quickly expanding Glashütte's traditional product range with a forward look towards uncharted horological territory, his successes have been numerous.
Mr. Mühle quickly expanded Glashütte's traditional product range of marine chronometer and ships watch fittings by adding a collection of ambitious percision wristwatches. The most visual successes have been the "Business Timer" and the "City Timer," both a bit of underground rage in 1999 and 2000 respectively to their current runaway hit, the "SAR Timer." The latter has been on fire since its inception just over one year ago - with most retailers selling out quickly and demand far exceeding supply. As a small retailer, I can attest to the underground success and fervent, almost rabid, need that collectors exhibit in trying to obtain the "SAR Timer." This watch typifies the Mühle motto, roughly translated as:
"Pure simple mechanics from Saxony, combined with 21st century high tech" with its very heavy footprint that out-Rolexes the "Submariner" with a 4 mm think (over 67 carats) double windowpane think sapphire crystal and its certified designation as the official watch of the German Search and Rescue team. Heck, the Chancellor of Germany has made the sojourn to the factory and has gone on record as being a staunch supporter of the Mühle gang. And with such heavy hitter customers like Bill Gates, our sources also say that the Wizard of Washington bought scores of Mühle clocks for his ship, (although Mühle will not confirm nor deny this) and with another sort of well-known little German company called "Mercedes," is reportedly involved with Mühle Glashütte in a project that is soon to come to fruition,
Well, it is more than mind-boggling when you realize that this company has only been producing wristwatches since 1995.
Mühle Glashütte just introduced 14 months ago at Basel 2002 the "SAR Search and Rescue Timer." See specs:
Automatic, ETA 2824 with Incabloc shock absorbing system and a specially treated hairspring, sweep secons and a date window
Monstrous solid stainless steel case with a diameter of 42 mm and a height of 13.5 mm with a sapphire crystal that weighs over 67 carats and is a whopping 4 mm thick, with an internal date magnifier
It has a specially made screw-down crown and is conservatively rates with a water resistance to 3,000 feet.
The band is made of extremely heavy rubber and is ver long - fitting a wrist of over 9 inches with a fold-over clasp
The official watch of the German Search and Rescue Team, the company has a video that outlines its success from the manufacturing to actual use in the water by the German Search and Rescue Team and the Team's subsequent tests under extreme conditions. The watch reportedly has been approved to depths of 6,000 and is virtually indestructible.