Take a tour of this incredibly passionate watchmakers workshop here...
Sometimes you really can’t beat a long summers evening in London. From the chilled out sunny parks to the bustling streets of Covent Garden London really does have it all. And it was at the latter where Ben and I first met Veit and Dirk from Dornblüth in person at the Watchmakers Club event.
After the initial introductions, one thing was refreshing clear about Dornblüth. For a company who manufactures handmade watches at a price that doesn't break the bank, these guys approach watchmaking the right way.
For the price of a retail priced Rolex Sports, you could have yourself a handmade completely in house Germany timepiece made by a small, dedicated, passionate team that value traditional techniques of watchmaking.
Fast forward a month or so, and four Dornblüth’s arrive on my desk to be featured in our Online Magazine (check that piece out here if you missed). Continue fast forwarding another 2 months (or rewind a couple of weeks from today) and we find ourselves two hours outside of Berlin deep in the German countryside at the Dornblüth workshop to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Joined with around 50 or so other friends, collectors and press from around the world we were fortunate to not just get an exclusive behind the scenes look of this passionate watch brand, but also get hands-on with their latest limited-edition releases to mark this special occasion.
Let’s take a look at these new editions from a special brand to kick things off...
The Quintus-2010 Kraftzwölf
First up we were presented with a big date complication from Dornblüth. Fortunately, the date window is the only thing that is big on this piece as the case comes in at 38.5mm wide, a welcomed addition to the Dornblüth line up. This feels beautiful on the wrist, appropriately sized with all the necessary information you need and nothing you don’t. The big date towards the lower half of the dial adds a great amount of balance and cohesiveness to the overall aesthetic of the watch.
The more I look at this watch the more I love it.
The Dornbluth 99.1 Medium
Next, we took a look at the new 99.1 and this time its in a medium case size, 40mm. There is a positive theme happening here with each new release all having smaller sizes. This is certainly where the market seems to be going, so it's fantastic to see Dornblüth embrace this. One thing I noticed at the workshop is Dornblüth’s approach to not refer to these smaller releases as women’s watches. The line is becoming blurred between 'women's watches' and 'mens watch'. Thankfully case width doesn’t seem to be the main contributing factor to define a watches demographic.
The Dornblüth Quintus-2010 Jubilar
Last but not least we have the new limited edition model to celebrate 20 years of the brand’s existence. The Quintus-2010 Jubilar will only be available in 20 examples, 15 in stainless steel, 3 in rose gold and just 2 in platinum. This is quite a different look from what we are used to seeing from Dornblüth as we now see a sub-seconds register, fine short indices and alpha hands.
This release actually looks to the first watch that Dirk gifted to his father Dieter for design inspiration however with up to date Dornblüth watchmaking.
This is a beautiful watch executed in a perfect size. When compared to the original it’s inspired by the team have done an incredible job to honour that piece without directly copying the design.
The initial sketches for the brand actually began between Dirk and Dieter over a long conversation where napkins were selected as their sketchpad out of necessity. A nod to this is also included with every Quintus-2010 Jubilar as an incredible Cleo Scribent fountain pen made from grained wood and notepad with handmade leather case is included.
The people and workshop of Dornblüth
Initially, the brand was started by Dirk and his father Dieter in 1999. Since then the brand has grown to around 10 members of the team and one thing was very clear from the outset as all the team lined up in front of us on Friday morning. This is such a close-knit, passionate warming bunch of people.
The family feel of the brand remains which is something I immediately picked up on as a comparison to us here at WatchGecko.
This compact set up is something that translates to their workshop which over the years has slowly grown in size when the team felt it was time. Walking into the workshop you can't help but notice all of the old traditional watchmaking tools pride of place on work stations. Dirk was actually saying that although he isn’t a big fan of the Swiss and Switzerland, he will make the trip there occasionally to do some traditional watchmaking tools shopping.
These pieces are not something you see every day with the likes of Hauser & Jean Widmer-Steiner living under the Dornblüth roof.
A VIP tour of local watchmaking attractions with Dirk and the team
The following day Dirk and the team picked Ben and I up for a little watch themed sightseeing tour of the local area. The first stop was about an hour away in a town called Seehausen. This typically German town was quiet and full of charm. Down a small alley, we came across a clock museum.
Here the owner of the museum explained through Veit from Dornblüth (not many people speak English in this area of Germany) how the museum was originally set up to preserve a wide selection of clocks. A lot came from the local area but to be honest, they clearly had a bit of everything.
A lot of the larger movements you’re seeing in these images came from old clock towers with dates beginning in the 1700s.
The people of the museum restore the clocks when needed always with the intention and desire to preserve these artefacts for their historical importance. Grandfather clocks, school clocks, clocks in artwork, clocks from different regions and countries such as the Black Forest, France and the local area. You name it, they have it.
St Mary's Church and an astronomical clock, Stendal.
We then took a trip to Stendal which is easily the largest town for quite a few hours around Dornblüth HQ. Here we met Detlef Roever of Goldschmiede Roever who has an incredible portfolio of work to his name in the shape of fixing a 500-year-old clock (dating back to 1552 to be precise) found in the St Mary’s church in Stendal.
Completed with his father, the duo worked on this incredibly old and accurate astronomy clock returning it to its former glory. What is incredible about this clock is how it sits in a monumentally large church, almost hidden at the back. If you weren’t looking for it you would be forgiven for missing this artefact.
The skilled Detlef who worked on the clock then out of nowhere opened a hidden door below the clock revealing an almost completely vertical ladder up to the inner workings. At the top of this ladder, there was barely enough space for three people to stand still and look around let alone work on a clock.
To be able to experience an up-close and personal tour of such an old beautiful clock was such a rare occasion, let alone meet the man who restored it.
A whistle-stop tour of Berlin
Once finishing up with the guys from Dornblüth Ben and I had some time in Berlin before heading home. Our flight was at 4pm so we only had around five hours to try and see as much of Berlin as possible. If anyone reading is lucky enough to have visited Berlin you’ll understand a few things.
One, it’s a very large, extensive city. Two, there is a lot to see; From museums, important historical monuments, cultural experiences and fantastic social scenes. And three, you can’t really see a lot in five hours… or can you?
Fortunately, a lot of the must see spots are all within 5 - 15 minutes from each other so it is very possible to experience a healthy chunk of what Berlin has to offer. Amongst many other big cities, Berlin is one who has adopted a new personal form of transport making city exploring 10x easier. Public use electric scooters are dotted around the city. Simply download an app, find a scooter, scan it and you’re off. You can park your scooter anywhere once you’re done as long as it’s left neatly and responsibly. These are very cheap, insanely useful for exploring and cost next to nothing when compared to the cost of a taxi.
So, 5 hours in Berlin what can you see?
We'd like to take this moment to thank everyone at Dornblüth for being so welcoming to Ben and myself. Their honesty and thoughtfulness is clearly reflected in their work. The result is a collection of watches all made for the right reasons by people who clearly excel in their craft.