The German jeweler and watch manufacturer Wempe exclusively produces chronometers in Glashütte, Germany. The manufacturer started the only official chronometer testing institute in Germany on the grounds of the Glashütter Observatory.
- Glashütte watches with chronometer certificates
- In-house calibers power the Chronometerwerke collection
- Top model: Tonneau-shaped platinum watch with tourbillon
- Zeitmeister collection features affordable chronometers
- A complicated watch: The Zeitmeister chronograph with a moon phase indicator and annual calendar
Wempe: Certified Precision
Wempe is known for producing precise, high-quality timepieces. With the acquisition and restoration of the Glashütte Observatory, this family business proved their goal of creating precise watches: Today, the grounds of this former observatory are home to the only chronometer testing institute in Germany. A chronometer is an incredibly precise watch. A testing institute, such as the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), must certify a watch's precision in order for it to carry the chronometer label. The COSC exclusively tests Swiss watches, thus German timepieces are tested on the Glashütte Observatory grounds. Wempe also produces their own high-quality luxury watches here. The watches from their Chronometerwerke collection are prime examples of haute horlogerie. The highlight of this series is a platinum model with a tonneau-shaped case, tourbillon, and in-house, manual-winding caliber. The tourbillon was invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795 and serves to offset any deviations in time caused by gravity. Tourbillon watches are considered exceptional watchmaking masterpieces.
The Zeitmeister collection hosts a large number of different mechanical watches. From stainless steel sport watches to classic, manual-winding dress watches to intricate watches with chronograph, moon phase, and annual calendar complications, this collection has it all. You can even find pocket watches in this collection. These watches are incredibly precise; Wempe has all of the watches in the Chronometerwerke and Zeitmeister collections certified as chronometers.
If you're looking for a certified German chronometer, then watches from Wempe are exactly what you want. A pre-owned quartz watch in very good quality is available for only 700 euros. Pre-owned automatic watches are available for a little over 1,000 euros. For around 1,400 euros, you can buy an automatic chronograph. Pre-owned watches with moon phase displays and annual calendars are available in a similar price range. Pre-owned pilot's chronographs cost around 2,000 euros. Watches from the Chronometerwerke series with in-house movements are more expensive, costing around 10,000 euros.
Zeitmeister: Wempe's Introductory Chronometer
If you decide on a watch from the Zeitmeister series, then you're sure to find a reasonably priced chronometer. Wempe offers a watch for every taste in this collection. The most affordable models have quartz movements. The main advantage of a quartz watch is obvious: It's much more precise than a mechanical timepiece. Wempe's quartz watches are mostly targeted towards women and are stainless steel timepieces with either a leather or steel band or gold-plated and adorned with diamonds. They are available in diameters of 31 or 38 mm.
Automatic watches with chronograph functions are just one highlight of the Zeitmeister collection. You can use a chronograph to time events. Wempe utilizes the ETA Valjoux 7753 caliber, a modification of the 7750. The Valjoux 7750 is considered the most successful automatic chronograph movement in history. The 7753 differs from the 7750 in that it has the minute counter at three o'clock instead of twelve. Furthermore, Wempe uses the Valjoux 7751 in some models. This caliber features a moon phase indicator and an annual calendar in addition to the chronograph function. An annual calendar displays the current day, date, and month. In months with less than 31 days - so five times a year - the calendar has to be manually corrected. You can do this via the crown and quick date correction on the 7751. In terms of design, Wempe chronographs are sporty-elegant. They combine classic materials such as crocodile leather straps with sporty features like tachymetric scales. Tachymetric scales are used to measure speed over a certain distance.
You can also find simple three-hand watches in the Zeitmeister series. These are powered by either manual-winding or automatic movements. Manual models have a timeless design with decentralized seconds. There are also variants with a central seconds hand and a power reserve at six o'clock. The automatic watches in the series are powered by the natural motion of your wrist. The motion causes an oscillating mass, the so-called rotor, to move, which winds the mainspring. The stainless steel watches are available with a date display and a leather or metal band. Roman numerals emphasize the watches' classic look. They're available with stainless steel or gold-plated cases.
Those who travel often should consider the world time watch from the Zeitmeister series. This watch displays the time in all 24 time zones around the world. In order to do this, the watch has two rings: an inner, rotating 24-hour ring and a second, fixed ring on the edge of the dial. The usual three central hands display the local time. The other ring has the names of 24 cities, one in each time zone. The inner ring displays what time it is in another place somewhere in the world. You can also easily determine if it's day or night since the 24-hour ring is bicolor.
Zeitmaster Collection Features
- German chronometers at affordable prices
- Timeless, elegant designs
- Some models with a chronograph function, moon phase indicator, and annual calendar
Chronometerwerke: Exquisite Watchmaking by Wempe
The Chronometerwerke collection contains Wempe's masterpieces. These streamlined, classic watches are powered by in-house calibers. Thus, the watch with small seconds has just three hands and delicate stick indices. The subsidiary seconds dial is located at six o'clock. It's powered by the in-house manual caliber CW3.1. Using the balance stop, you can set the watch to the exact second.
The Chronometerwerke Power Reserve model adds a power reserve indicator at 12 o'clock to the simple, manual-winding watch with a small seconds at six o'clock. The power reserve indicator displays when you need to wind the watch. After winding, the watch will stay powered for 42 hours. The timepiece is available in either stainless steel or 18-karat yellow gold. You have the choice between stick indices or Arabic or Roman numerals.
Wempe's true masterpiece is their tourbillon watch, which is limited to a run of 25. A watch featuring a tourbillon has its entire swing and escapement systems placed within a cage which makes a full rotation on its axis once every minute. This rotation compensates for deviation caused by gravity. The watch is made of 950 platinum and features a silver-coated dial and Arabic numerals at three, nine, and twelve o'clock. The tourbillon is located at six o'clock and is visible from the dial-side and case back through sapphire glass. The tonneau-shaped case measures 51 mm x 40.90 mm x 13.70 mm.
Chronometerwerke Collection Features
- Watches with a chronometer certificate
- Platinum watch with tourbillon
- Tonneau-shaped watches
Wempe and the Glashütte Observatory
Wempe Jewelers has a long tradition of precision timekeeping. In 1938, the company bought Hamburger Chronometerwerke GmbH from shipbuilders based in Bremen and Hamburg, Germany. The company was founded in 1905 with the intention of ending German dependence on English marine chronometers by manufacturing their own.
At the time, England was the leading producer of marine chronometers. Sailors required incredibly precise watches to determine their position. Directional errors and shipwrecks were common until the 18th century. This all changed in 1759 when the Englishman John Harrison created the first chronometer, allowing sailors to determine their longitude and thus their exact position.
Wempe laid the foundation for their own chronometer production with the purchase of the Hamburger Chronometerwerke GmbH. Shortly thereafter, Wempe and Otto Lange, the grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, began working together. F. A. Lange was the founder of the watch industry in Glashütte. Wempe and Otto Lange envisioned founding a research and training facility for watchmakers in the Glashütte Observatory. However, the Second World War and subsequent splitting of Germany prevented them from realizing their plan.
Together with the Office of Consumer Protection and the Office for Weights and Measures in Thuringia in 2006, Wempe founded the only independent chronometer testing institute in Germany. Since then, watches can also receive a chronometer certificate from within Germany. Since 2006, Wempe has produced their Chronometerwerke and Zeitmeister collections on the observatory grounds, which they acquired in 2005. Today, Wempe repairs and services watches from all major brands in their workshop, which is the largest retail workshop in Europe.
Chronometer Certification in Germany
DIN 8319 is the German standard for testing the accuracy and precision of chronometers. The standard is the same as the international ISO 3159 standard used in Switzerland. However, there is one important difference: In Germany, the entire watch is tested. In Switzerland, just the caliber is tested and receives certification. The movement is placed into the case only after it has been certified.
The DIN 8319 standard requires the watches to pass a 15-day test. They are adjusted in five different positions: dial up, dial down, crown left, crown up, and crown down. During these 15 days, the watch's mean variation of rates must fall between -4 and +6 seconds. The watches undergo these tests at 23 °C, 8 °C, and 38 °C, as well as at 50% humidity. After 24 hours, the deviation is measured. Furthermore, a machine winds the movements. If the movements have any complications, they're turned on on the 10th day. This tests the impact of the complications on the rate of the watch.
Wempe: The History of a Family Business
The history of Wempe began in 1878 when Gerhard D. Wempe started his own small workshop in Northern Germany. There, he repaired and sold used watches. He put a lot of effort into his display windows, bringing in more customers than his competitors with this innovation. His success earned him the nickname "Gülden Gerd" (Golden Gerd). Today, a uniform store design and decorative display windows are hallmarks of Wempe.
Wempe expanded to Oldenburg in 1894, where they opened a second store. That same year, Wempe traveled to Switzerland and began selling more expensive watches. Thirteen years later, Wempe opened a store in Hamburg, where the head office is still located.
After the death of Gerard D. Wempe in 1921, his son Herbert took over the company. Following in his father's footsteps, he invested in the future and developed a uniform store design for all Wempe stores. Unusual at the time, this is now known as "corporate identity." He also expanded their customer service. Wempe repairs all watches
, even those from other companies such as A. Lange & Söhne
, and Patek Philippe
Hellmut Wempe took over the company in 1963. Under his leadership, Wempe grew to be an international company with 29 stores. Aside from stores in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Cologne, they also opened one in New York. Not just anywhere in New York, either, but on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Following the opening of their New York Store, Wempe opened stores in Paris, London, Vienna, and Madrid. Wempe even has their own boutique on the cruise ship "MS Europa."