12 German watches from all price points you must know about!
When one thinks of watchmaking and horology, most will instantly think of Switzerland. Along with cheese, chocolate, skiing and banking, Switzerland also has watchmaking as another stereotypical trait of their country. The French would also argue they deserve to be in with a shout of claiming watchmaking; likewise the British.
But another country that also has a remarkably impressive catalogue of watch brands is Germany. Their engineering skills are not just limited to automobiles, with a pedigree in watchmaking as vast as their population.
Today we wanted to highlight some of the best German watch brands available today. There is a wide breadth of price points here but just know, phrases such as ‘value proposition’, ‘bang for buck’ and ‘under the radar’ are going to be commonplace. In fact, a lot of that is down to the lack of ‘Swiss made’ on the dial...
NOMOS GlashütteLet’s waste no time here and jump straight into one of the most popular German watch brands operational today. NOMOS Glashütte is the king of Bauhaus design in horology, offering clean, whimsical watch designs that somehow manage to stand out despite their simplistic design approach.
Although NOMOS watches are not exactly loose change (prices can start from around £1,000 but commonly sit around £2,000 - £3,000), they offer unrivalled value for money. With NOMOS movements featuring an entirely in house escapement, the prowess of German engineering is fully on show with NOMOS. Specific models we’d recommend include the NOMOS Club Date 731 and the Tangente.
Both are quintessential NOMOS models (the Tangente was the brand's very first watch) and shows how playful yet serious the brand is able to be within Bauhaus design.
Eza, unfortunately, wasn't immune to the wide adoption of quartz watches in the 70s and 80s, resulting in their doors being shut. However, back in 2016, the brand was relaunched with a focus on staying true to original watches from their past.
Their current range focuses on tool watches, specifically divers and pilots watches.
Both the 1972 and the AirFighter offer desirable, purposeful visuals wrapped up in well-proportioned cases (39.6mm and 41mm, respectively). The icing on the cake however is the movements powering these watches: the ETA 2824-2, a movement that is quickly becoming a unicorn and one that many brands charge 3x what Eza are here.
StowaStowa tick many boxes with their range of well built German watches. Said boxes epitomise a traditional German watchmaking mindset including fliegers, Bauhaus focused designs as well as tough, reliable tool watches.
Their classic Fliegers range in size and variation from 36mm to 41mm and can be found in either steel or bronze. The Antea Classic offers textbook Bauhaus design and how about the Seatime or Chronograph? They provide you with the textbook dependable German tool watch.
They even have models such as the Partitio and Marine that are inspired by styles you don’t see often.
Stowa really does have a little bit of everything available with a build quality that is remarkably impressive. The best part? You can have a Stowa on your wrist for around €800…
We just cannot talk about the best German watches and not talk about Laco. They’re one of the original watch brands who were commissioned to make fliegers back in 1940 and incredibly, they still offer such watches at prices that won’t make your eyes water.
Laco harnesses this history and pedigree with its modern offerings, creating watches that have a strong preference for craftsmanship, quality and reliability. Laco has German pilots watches in their range starting from just a few hundred pounds in wearable sizes (39mm - 42mm) using automatic movements (commonly Miyota).They’re not a brand that rests on its laurels though. They continue to push the boundaries of what is possible both as a German brand and at this price point. Take their Erbstück range of watches for example. These are brand new models straight out of their factory that are then forced patinaed by hand in a controlled manner to replicate 100 years of wear and tear. Each model is completely unique because of this.
Good luck finding a watch brand with the same history as Laco offering the same product, with the same attention to detail and care.
WatchGecko are proud to say we’re an authorised dealer of Laco watches for the UK! Check out their range of watches on the site right here. Carefully curated using our expertise and passion for horology.
From one German watch brand icon to another: Sinn Spezialuhren. Famed for their roots in manufacturing navigation cockpit clocks, now they have an undivided focus on producing tough as nails, no-nonsense tool watches. Many of their watches make the most of advanced technology such as Ar-Dehumidifying (the reduction of oils in mechanical watches due to air inside), Tegimented steel to increase the scratch resistance as well as submarine steel.
Ranging from £1,000 - £4,000, Sinn continues to gain a loyal following of passionate fans who appreciate how they go above and beyond. Unsurprisingly, it only takes a few minutes of handling one of their watches to understand why.In 2020 we spent one week away with a Sinn U50 - click here to see how the watch performed in real-world situations.
Much like NOMOS, Mühle Glashütte is based in the German mecca of watchmaking, Glashütte. However, where Mühle is slightly different to other brands we’ve mentioned is down to their keen focus on water-resistant, sea-worthy timepieces.
Nowadays, the brand also creates pieces that could be regarded as more dressy, however, the brand's core is purely based around the ocean hence the presence of 'Nautische Instrumente’ ( that means Nautical Instruments) in their logo.
Popular models from the brand include the likes of the Promare, the S.A.R range and of course the 29er.
With prices around £1,000 - £2,000, Muhle is yet another brand from Germany that offers a ton of value at an incredibly competitive price point.
Tutima Glashütte SA
We’re going to hang around the town of Glashütte a little longer now and take a browse at what Tutima has to offer.
Where previous brands on this list have focused on keeping their feet close to the ground, Tutima is destined to fly with their range of watches all having a relationship to aviation.
Typical characteristics of German watches apply perfectly to Tutima. Refined both in design and watchmaking, Tutima has a diverse range of watches with each family owning a strong design language.
The M2 from Tutima is their most popular tool watch with visuals that focus heavily on legibility and a heightened sense of purposefulness. Starting around £1,400, the M2 range is well worth your attention. To show the diversity of the Tutima brand, they also have the capacity to produce a beautifully finished minute repeater costing a quarter of a million pounds. There aren’t many brands out there who offer stunning watches at both ends of the price point scale (maybe with the expectation of Seiko). Crazy, right?
See, we weren’t lying when we said Glashütte is the watch obsessed place to be.
Dornblüth & SohnIf your passion for watches runs deep, this next brand might be one that is already on your radar. Dornblüth & Sohn are a small independent watch brand run by Dirk Dornblüth under the watchful eye of his father Dieter. Based out of an equally small German town of Kalbe, Dornblüth focuses on making handmade and hand-finished watches.
Due to their small size, they’re able to take custom, bespoke orders from customers and really develop ideas with the client in mind. Focusing on marine chronometer aesthetics as well as dress watches, Dornblüth excels at offering unbelievable value for money in watches that have a level of care, attention and quality never seen on watches at their price point.
Starting from around €4,000 you get a hell of a lot of bang for buck here.
Click here to find out more about Dornblüth & Sohn watches as we took a tour of their workshop and HQ a few years ago!
A. Lange & Söhne
Another brand that needs to be included in a list of the best german made watches is Lange & Söhne. Arguably the most well known German brand in the luxury space, Lange & Söhne was originally founded in 1845, however, it returned to the scene in the 1990s creating purely wristwatches.
Lange & Söhne is everything that is wonderful about German watchmaking. Unique, alternative and distinctive designs, watchmaking craftsmanship with a commitment to finishing and engraving are all offered from a watch brand with an honest reputation and loyal following.
Their star of the show is the Lange 1 which has been on the scene since 1994. Since then has been equipped with all manner of complications including tourbillons and moon phases. The watch really shines however in its simplicity and ability to add a sense of occasion. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but once you understand why the Lange 1 is special, you won’t be able to get it out of your mind (guilty).
Next up we have a curious brand from Germany called Kudoke. Named after its founder Stefan Kudoke whose CV includes working at Glashütte Original, Breguet, Omega and Blancpain. Kudoke is driven to create high-end luxury watches that harness the best of traditional watchmaking techniques to explore the imagination and creativity of the watchmaker and their clients.
The brand creates some highly detailed skeleton dials that are more considered to be artwork than for timekeeping, however, it's their Kudoke 1 that really steals the show. With its twisted hour hand, sub seconds at 9, 39mm width and 9.5mm thickness, the Kudoke 1 is a stunning watch from Germany. Inside that case is their in house Caliber 1 hand-wound movement with gorgeous hand engraved details.
It's no wonder they won the ‘Petite Aiguille’ GPHG award in 2019 for their incredible moonphase version called the Kudoke 2.
Producing just 200 pieces a year, Moritz Grossmann occupies the top spot of German watchmaking along with only a handful of other watchmakers. They’ve only been on the scene since 2008, but in that time they’ve developed both a unique style that plays with traditional watchmaking as well as an expansive range of watch models.
Catering to both men and women, Moritz Grossman has the talent and ability to offer 36mm, clean, fine women's watches whilst also offering a yellow gold tourbillon. Not bad, right?
Lang & Heyne Dresden
Lang & Heyne are a fascinating luxury watchmaker based out of Dresden, Germany. Its small team of watchmakers produce only a few handfuls of watches a year, however, the ones they do create are magical pieces of art that combine ancient watchmaking techniques with modern technology.
You’re likely to see something from Lang & Heyne that you cannot find anywhere else with an unrivalled level of attention. Take their Caliber VII movement found in the Lang & Heyne. Here you’ll see the distinct lack of plates in favour of immaculately finished bridges and blued screws contributing to a movement that looks both stripped back and incredibly detailed at the same time.
This of course isn’t an exhausted list of the best German watch brands available today. The reality is that there are many great watch brands based in Germany producing fantastic watches. Some other must-see brands include:
Damasko - Think of Sinn’s build quality and professional approach to watchmaking with a splash of fun and colour added for good measure.
Junghans - If you’re looking for a watch brand that epitomises everything German watchmaking has to offer, Junghans is the one for you. With Bauhaus design watches to tough, purposeful tool pieces in their collection, Junghans is a one stop show for all things German.
Hanhart - Specialising in creating chronographs for the German Air Force, there is a reason why Steve McQueen chose to wear a 417 Chronograph from Hanhart.
Glashütte Original - a great alternative to Lange & Sohne at a lower price point, GO has a build quality to rival any Swiss brand within its price point such as the German dive watch SeaQ.
Let us know which German watch brand is your favourite to wear in the comments below as well as the watch and brand that is next on your shopping list!