Günter Blümlein: His most important achievements

Günter Blümlein in his office, 2000
Günter Blümlein in his office, 2000
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Günter Blümlein passed away 20 years ago on 1 October 2001, aged only 58. His death left a big gap in the world of watches. His contribution to the renaissance of the mechanical timepiece is a memorable achievement.

Günter Blümlein, Walter Lange and Hartmut Knothe during the first presentation at Dresden Royal Palace on 24 October 1994
Günter Blümlein, Walter Lange and Hartmut Knothe during the first presentation at Dresden Royal Palace on 24 October 1994
  1. Idea generator for the watch industry

Günter Blümlein ranks among the major rejuvenators of the Swiss and German watchmaking industries. With the restoration of IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre as well as the establishment of A. Lange & Söhne, he made major contributions to the renaissance of the mechanical watch after the quartz crisis in the 1970s. The innovative designs and mechanical inventions created under his guidance bolstered the watch industry with inspirations and impulses that still reverberate today. Key developments at A. Lange & Söhne included the LANGE 1 with its new off-centre dial architecture, the first outsize date in a regularly produced wristwatch, and the first chronograph calibre crafted in-house for the DATOGRAPH.

Günter Blümlein with the then Federal President Roman Herzog at the award ceremony "Courageous entrepreneurs the country needs", in July 1997
Günter Blümlein with the then Federal President Roman Herzog at the award ceremony “Courageous entrepreneurs the country needs”, in July 1997
  1. Rebirth of Glashütte’s watchmaking heritage

 Without Günter Blümlein, Glashütte would not have become the centre of the German watchmaking industry again. With systematic and sustainable investments in the site and in training, he created important prerequisites for restoring the city of Glashütte’s status as a centre of international precision watchmaking. He devoted his entire energy to the achievement of this goal and never shied away from personally lending a hand. Today, Glashütte as a provenance is again a synonym of quality among collectors and enthusiasts of high-end timepieces. Thanks to this positive development, “Made in Germany” has established itself as a hallmark in haute horlogerie that is coequal to “Swiss Made”.

Günter Blümlein lays the foundation stone for the renovation of the Lange I building, 1993
Günter Blümlein lays the foundation stone for the renovation of the Lange I building, 1993
  1. Revival of A. Lange & Söhne

One of Günter Blümlein’s greatest achievements was the revival of the A. Lange & Söhne brand, essentially from scratch. Together with Walter Lange, he developed an integrated corporate, product, and marketing concept that propelled the name A. Lange & Söhne back to the pinnacle of precision watchmaking where the brand stood prior to its involuntary hiatus of 40 years. No timepiece underscores this ambitious venture better than the TOURBILLON “Pour le Mérite”. Among the four watches of the first collection, it dominates the domain of horological complications. Its most precious features is the fusée-and-chain transmission, a refined constant-force mechanism that had never before been integrated in a wristwatch.

Günter Blümlein and Walter Lange in front of the monument to Ferdinand Adolph Lange in Glashütte 1994
Günter Blümlein and Walter Lange in front of the monument to Ferdinand Adolph Lange in Glashütte 1994
  1. New approaches in communication

In communication, Günter Blümlein also explored new approaches and demonstrated that he was not only an excellent engineer but also an ingenious marketing strategist. He realised that the issue is not only to craft perfect watches but also to share the know-how related to their elaborate inception. For this reason, he introduced tours of the manufactory and brought people with a passionate enthusiasm for watches together with those who craft them with equal dedication. The advertising campaigns that he inspired and largely designed placed the micromechanical masterpieces of the Saxon manufactory in the focus and communicated their technical artistry both informatively and self-confidently. This was the origin of the famous headline “The Swiss make the world’s best watches. So do the Saxons.” And the motto “The legend comes back to life.” became the mantra for the relaunch.

Günter Blümlein and Walter Lange 1994 in the department of watch assembly
Günter Blümlein and Walter Lange 1994 in the department of watch assembly

Günter Blümlein – Selected Quotes

Quotes by Günter Blümlein

  • A Lange watch is a fusion of the arts. It melds the passion of watchmakers for mechanical solutions and craftsmanship with the inimitable style of the manufactory and its venerable history.
  • We do not intend to just celebrate traditional craftsmanship or to take part in the race for the most complicated watch. One of our goals is watchmaking beauty, another one is perfect craftsmanship. But innovations and differentiating design are key parameters for us as well. Our new Lange watches must appear classical and understated, simple, useful and, ultimately, typically German.
  • We want to again build the world’s best watches, in the quality and tradition of the legendary pocket watches crafted by the former Lange manufactory. In doing so, we must constantly ask ourselves critically how Ferdinand Adolph Lange would have thought and acted if he were alive today.
  • As a newcomer, we cannot afford to show any weakness. Our products have to be perfect down to the last detail.
  • Collectors have not forgotten A. Lange & Söhne in the past fifty years, nor have we forgotten them.
  • We will continue where A. Lange & Söhne is valued at auctions, right at the top.
  • Our contribution to rebuilding the East proves that ideas, courage, commitment, and stamina can lead to success.
  • Great confidence is placed in the Saxons. Let’s trust in their strength!
  • The Swiss make the world’s best watches. So do the Saxons.
    (Headline from 1998)
  • The legend comes back to life.
    (First claim of A. Lange & Söhne)
Günter Blümlein
Günter Blümlein (1943-2001)

Quotes on Günter Blümlein

  • Günter Blümlein knew how to make watches and how to lead people. He was an outstanding manager and strategist. He was also an expert in marketing and understood the A. Lange & Söhne brand. Never before have I met a man who combined so many talents.
    Walter Lange, founder of Lange Uhren GmbH
  • Without Günter Blümlein, A. Lange & Söhne would no longer exist – and Glashütte would not once again be the centre of German fine watchmaking.
    Walter Lange, founder of Lange Uhren GmbH
  • Günter Blümlein represented an exceptional figure respected in the industry – for he was both: a realist and a visionary.
    Walter Lange, founder of Lange Uhren GmbH
  • When I met Günter Blümlein for the first time, I knew he was the answer to all questions related to watchmaking.
    Johann Rupert, Chairman of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA
  • With his charisma and his passion for the mechanical watch, Günter Blümlein sparked my enthusiasm for A. Lange & Söhne. He was an absolute expert in both technology and marketing. He lived the brand and anticipated many developments.
    Anthony de Haas, Director Product Development at Lange Uhren GmbH
  • The memory of Günter Blümlein is like a long-lasting surge of adrenaline. More than anyone else, he knew how to motivate people for the ambitious goal of making A. Lange & Söhne the number one in fine watchmaking. His credibility and persuasiveness were derived from the fact that he never wanted to be at the center of attention but rather focus on the watch.
    Tino Bobe, Director of Manufacturing at Lange Uhren GmbH
  • Günter Blümlein was a manager who had passed through the fire of the watchmaking industry, and no one could pull the wool over his eyes. He was a highly creative entrepreneur who was fascinated by the idea of drawing on his life’s experience to revive a vanished premium brand and to build an entire watch manufactory from scratch.
    Martin Huber, watch collector, book author and one of the first A. Lange & Söhne retailers
  • Everything turned out as Günter Blümlein had imagined.
    Frank Reichel, former mayor of Glashütte/Saxony
  • Günter Blümlein’s favorite discipline is to put a derailed train back on the tracks and push it in a new direction. Lange’s direction – to the top of the luxury watch market – was clear from the outset, but first of all, new tracks had to be laid.
    Manfred Fritz, former editor-in-chief of the German daily newspaper Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung

About A. Lange & Söhne

Dresden watchmaker Ferdinand Adolph Lange laid the cornerstone of Saxony’s precision watchmaking industry when he established his manufactory in 1845. His precious pocket watches remain highly coveted among collectors all over the world. The company was expropriated after the Second World War, and the name A. Lange & Söhne nearly vanished. But in 1990, Walter Lange, Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s great-grandson, ventured to start over again. Today, Lange crafts only a few thousand wristwatches, mainly in gold or platinum, per year. They are endowed exclusively with proprietary movements that are lavishly decorated and twice assembled by hand. With 67 manufacture calibres developed since 1990, A. Lange & Söhne has secured a top-tier position among the world’s finest watch brands. Its greatest successes include brand icons such as the LANGE 1, the first regularly produced wristwatch with an outsize date, and the ZEITWERK, with its precisely jumping numerals. Extraordinary complications such as the ZEITWERK MINUTE REPEATER, the TRIPLE SPLIT and the so far most complicated model, the GRAND COMPLICATION, introduced in 2013 in a limited edition of six, represent what the manufactory always strives for: to drive the traditional art of watchmaking to ever-new heights. The sporty yet elegant ODYSSEUS, introduced in 2019, marked the start of a new chapter for A. Lange & Söhne.

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