Union Glashütte – Time in motion

175 years anniversary of Johannes Dürrstein, founder of UNION Glashütte

Union Glashütte
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Since its foundation over 125 years ago, the Union Glashütte brand has dedicated itself to fine watchmaking, and its collections provide an insight into Glashütte watchmaking history. Right from the start, businessman and founder of the company, Johannes Dürrstein, kept to the principle of making his high-quality, precision watches affordable for a wider range of customers. This objective has remained the same throughout the eventful history of the company but has continually found new ways of expression. It has never yet lost relevance.

 

Union Glashütte

1845

With financial support from the state government of Saxony, Dresden watchmaker Ferdinand Adolph Lange (1815–1875) began manufacturing watches in Glashütte and thus laid the foundations for the development of a Swiss-style watchmaking trade in the Ore Mountains.

On 22nd August 1845, Johannes Dürrstein was born in Niederrad near Frankfurt.

Dürrstein acquired his commercial knowledge at the Ludwig & Fries watchmaking suppliers in Frankfurt/Main. During his travels and time as a sales representative, he established contacts with watch manufacturers and customers in Switzerland and Germany.

Union Glashütte
Lager Uhrengroßhandlung in Dresden©Stiftung Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Glashütte

1874

On 19th January 1874, Johannes Dürrstein established the Dürrstein & Comp. watch wholesaler in Dresden.

In the same year, he took over general distribution of A. Lange & Söhne watches from Glashütte.

Union Glashütte

1878

At the suggestion of Dürrstein, Lange & Söhne established the inexpensive brand “Deutsche Uhrenfabrikation” (DUF).

Union Glashütte

1822

Julius Bergter (1856 – 1944), who worked as a watchmaker at the Moritz Großmann watch factory and a teacher at the German School of Watchmaking in Glashütte, was hired by and quickly became a close technical adviser at Dürrstein & Comp. in Dresden. Many of his designs were patented for Dürrstein & Comp.

Union Glashütte

1886

Dürrstein registered the first trademarks for its own watch brands, including the Swiss watchmaking brand “star with a D” and “Union Glocke”.

Union Glashütte

The watches of the “Union Glocke” brand featured a bell with five stars. The symbol stood for the export to five continents and also served as a trademark.

The range of products included other consumer watches such as “Felsenburg”, “D+C” and “Monopol”, along with tools and accessories.

Union Glashütte

1893

On 1st January 1893, alongside the watch wholesale business in Dresden, Johannes Dürrstein established the Uhrenfabrik Union in Glashütte.

Julius Bergter presided over the company as director. Production initially took place in rented rooms within an apartment building, but soon moved to the workshop of precision engineer and employee Carl Jentzsch.

Still, in the same year, Dürrstein presented and sold a Grand Complication watch at the Chicago World Fair.

Union Glashütte

1894

A stylised temple was introduced as the trademark for the Union brand in Glashütte. The symbol certified to the originality of the Glashütte Union timepieces.

Union Glashütte

1895

The Grand Complication exhibited in Chicago was presented in a modified form as an “anniversary watch” to mark 50 years since the foundation of the Glashütte watch industry.

It was the first Grand Complication built in Glashütte and featured a rattrapante chronograph with dead seconds, 30 minutes display, perpetual calendar, foudroyante, moon phase, minute repetition, grande and petite sonnerie. In total, six copies were made.

Union Glashütte

1899

Union Uhrenfabrik moved to a modern production facility at 41 Hauptstraße.

Union Glashütte

1900

With Julius Bergter in charge, the “Universaluhr” (also known as the Universal Watch) was finished and put up for sale at 12,000 German marks. Two other movements remained unfinished.

In addition to the complications of the anniversary watch, these three watches also had an alarm function.

One of the two unfinished movements was later bought by Martin Seidel (1910–1989) from Rudolstadt and, after years of painstaking work, was completed in 1950 and presented as “La Grandiose”.

The third movement, “La Fabuleuse”, was finished by Richard Danners at the Swiss House of Gübelin in 1985 and was sold for 750,000 Swiss francs.

1900

The product range was expanded to include observation watches.

1901

In January, Johannes Dürrstein died, childless, at the age of 56.

Union Glashütte

1903

Following the death of his brother, Friedrich Dürrstein, his wife, Lina, continued the Dürrstein & Comp. business in Dresden together with her sons.

Watchmaker Emil Leutert (1884 – 1973) was appointed as regulator. He worked as an operations manager until the company closed in 1925, after which he became self-employed, repairing Union timepieces.

Union Glashütte

1907

Introduction of marine chronometers with ébauches made by Paul Stübner in Glashütte.

1918

The cases were made in-house by Otto Rüdiger (1896–1988).

Union Glashütte

1919

Hugo Bogusch (1885–1954) succeeded Julius Bergter and was director of Union Uhrenfabrik until 1925. He attempted to convert the company to efficient production.

In the transition phase, Union produced the flattest pocket watches in Glashütte. Only a few wristwatches were completed. They were fitted with a ladies’ pocket watch movement.

1936

As was the case with many other brands, Union had to stop production due to the consequences of the First World War.

In 1936, Uhrenfabrik Union was removed from the German Commercial Register.

Union Glashütte

1996

On 13th August 1996, Union Uhrenfabrik GmbH was founded again as a subsidiary of Glashütte Original.

Union Glashütte

1997

Union Glashütte entered the market with a wristwatch collection that was designed on its behalf by Glashütte Original and manufactured with full vertical integration.

2000

The Swiss Swatch Group AG took over Union Glashütte. The development of Glashütte Original fully exhausted the production capacities. It lacked the resources to manufacture Union timepieces.

Union Glashütte

2008

The management of the Swatch Group decided to run the two companies separately. Union Glashütte repositioned itself and launched as an independent brand with its own production and collection.

Union Glashütte

Union Glashütte first became the watch partner of the Sachsen Classic rally and subsequently also of other classic car events.

2012

Union Uhrenfabrik obtained a new production facility at 5 Frühlingsweg in Glashütte.

Union Glashütte

To mark 125 years since the foundation of the company, the German Watch Museum in Glashütte will honour the history of Union Uhrenfabrik with the special exhibition “Union Glashütte – 125 Years German Art of Watchmaking”.

With the limited 1893 Johannes Dürrstein anniversary edition, Union Glashütte is paying tribute to its own history. The watch, with manual-winding calibre, combines Glashütte tradition with modern watchmaking craftsmanship.

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  1. Presenting Union Glashütte Belisar Chronograph Moon Phase - Watch I Love

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