Germany vs West Germany watches
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Thread: Germany vs West Germany watches

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  1. #1
    Member JP71624's Avatar
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    May 2013
    Asheboro, NC

    Germany vs West Germany watches

    A question posed for some of the horologists in F11, and something that could (slightly) interest those who like vintage watches and history...

    Do we have any idea as to loose dates that differentiate "Germany" and "West Germany" appearing on watch dials?

    This comes to my attention, and may come to others' attention, regarding PUW movements...for me, Helbros watches.
    It seems that earlier movements from the 1950's and early 60's seem to display "Germany" on the dial {See: PUW 61, 63, 65 etc....
    Movements appearing and spanning through the mid-to-late 60's often show "West Germany" {See: PUW 1360, etc....

    My question for those who may know, and for future reference of forum members, is do we know when this tended to appear on watch dials?

    In 1968, the constitution of East Germany officially classified West Germany (or Berliners) as “foreigners”. Could this be the sole cause? That seems like it might be a convenient and easy explanation, but worth mentioning.

    From another angle, would the importation of German made movements (by brands like Helbros) be effected due to other unknown reasons?

    Either way, I think this may be of slight interest to some, if we can know the reasoning behind the marking. Thanks, and hope everyone is doing well so far in 2015!

    "Time flies when you're throwing watches."
    What has a man profited, if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul? Mt16:26
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  2. #2
    Member Space Noodle's Avatar
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    Sep 2014
    BC, Canada

    Re: Germany vs West Germany watches

    I have a 1950s UMF Ruhla made in a East Germany that only says Germany on the dual so I posted a similar question here:
    I was told the labelling rules specifying East or West were not instituted until 1970.
    JP71624 likes this.
    - Mike

  3. #3
    Member Tomcat1960's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
    Nuremberg, Germany

    Re: Germany vs West Germany watches

    Wikipedia points out that

    In 1973, the Bundesgerichtshof ('BGH' - Germany's Federal Court of Law) made a ruling that 'Made in Germany' does not enable people to properly distinguish between the two Germanys of the time, so 'Made in West Germany' (or 'Made in W.-Germany') and 'Made in GDR' became popular.
    To make this clear: the BGH did not order the designations 'Made in W.-Germany' or 'Made in GDR' to be used (as it had no jurisdiction in the GDR anyway), it just rejected a claim raised by West German manufacturers to forbid the East German industry to use the 'Made in Germany' label. So while for West German goods a rather clear demarcation between pre-1973 and post-1973 may be seen, the line is somewhat blurry for products made east of the iron curtain. (GDR producers, however, since 1970 had to mark their products 'Made in GDR' in case they wanted to export to West Germany. This was quite common, e.g., in the furniture trade where, for instance, IKEA had much of their range made in the GDR.)

    I remember, we used to buy lightbulbs branded OSRAM (a West German company) but labeled 'Made in GDR' and my mother (who had fled from the GDR in 1955) kept joking that whoever had told OSRAM's management that the GDR industry was capable to manufacture lightbulbs to Western standards should be awarded the 'Eulenspiegel' medal. (Till Eulenspiegel was an imp and zany who fobbed the citizens of 14th century Mölln (on the Lower Rhine) and whose pranks have become legendary, like for instance his suggestion to carry light in buckets into the new town hall which had been erected without windows )

    Indeed, the lightbulbs branded 'Made in GDR' seemed to burn out more rapidly than their 'Made in Germany' counterparts. But then, I guess I once more have become a propaganda victim

    Best regards,
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  5. #4
    Member JP71624's Avatar
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    May 2013
    Asheboro, NC

    Re: Germany vs West Germany watches

    Very interesting info, guys! I really thought I've seen some very late 60's Helbros marked West Germany...maybe it is still possible, but not the rule. Who knows.

    Still, interesting to dig into the history of it!
    "Time flies when you're throwing watches."
    What has a man profited, if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul? Mt16:26
    IG: @BuyingOnTime

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