PRECISE MEASUREMENT SINCE 1869
The History of Mühle‑Glashütte
Nautische Instrumente Mühle-Glashütte is now the only watch manufacturer in the German town of Glashütte that is still owned by a long-established local family. Our family has been based in the Glashütte region for more than 700 years and has been working in the town’s watchmaking industry over a total of now fifth generations without interruption.
A FAMILY OF THE WATCH INDUSTRY
The family company was founded by Robert Mühle in 1869. He initially produced highly precise measuring instruments for the watch manufacturers in Glashütte and then went on to also make speedometers and rev counters. The company’s current focus emerged under the management of the fourth generation of the Mühle family: the production of high-quality wristwatches, marine time systems and other nautical instruments. Although the type of measuring instruments manufactured by our company has changed over the last 150 years, we are proud to declare that the name “Mühle” has now represented precision and precise measurement in Glashütte for five generations.
A LONG-ESTABLISHED LOCAL FAMILY
The history of the Mühle family has its roots in the German federal state of Saxony and goes back a long way. The family already existed in the area surrounding the town of Pirna, which once formed part of the Kingdom of Bohemia, back in as early as around the year 1300. The members of one branch of the family were even bestowed the noble title of barons. The bourgeois line of the Mühle family also produced a number of family members who were very famous back in their day, for example the musical director Nicolaus Mühle and the pastor Johann Georg Mühle.
“WITHOUT HOPE, WITHOUT FEAR”
Our ancestors have been defined by their courageous, quick-witted and active personalities over many centuries. One of our forefathers was even made a baron after allegedly saving the Elector of Saxony from a predicament. Our family has been the proud owner of a family crest ever since, the most important element of which is our family ethos of “without hope, without fear”. This means that we are down-to-earth realists who tackle even the toughest of problems in a courageous manner.
THE FIRST GENERATION
THE YEAR OF BIRTH OF ROBERT MÜHLE
Robert Mühle was born under the name of George Albert Mühle in Lauenstein, a town located a few kilometres away from Glashütte, on 28th June 1841. He assumed the name Robert at a later point in time, probably after the early death of his first wife and their son Robert.
MÜHLE’S APPRENTICESHIP AS A PRECISION TOOLMAKER
Robert Mühle completed an apprenticeship as a precision toolmaker with the watch manufacturer Moritz Großmann. During his time at the company, he helped to manufacture high-precision measuring devices used in the production of pocket watches.
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A FAMILY COMPANY RICH IN TRADITION
The year 1869 marked the start of a new era for our family. After all, despite the fact that our ancestors had already made a name for themselves as musical directors, pastors and barons in the Glashütte region, it was up to Robert Mühle to shape the destiny of the Mühle family right through to the present day. Already during his employment for Moritz Großmann, Robert Mühle established his own company in Glashütte. He began to work at his company on 22nd April 1869. The “Robert Mühle Glashütte” precision mechanical workshop subsequently developed into the sole manufacturer of measuring instruments for the watchmaking companies based in Glashütte and for the German School of Watchmaking.
THE GOLD MEDAL OF THE CITY OF DRESDEN
FRobert Mühle very soon became renowned for the quality and innovation of his measuring instruments. At an exhibition in Dresden, for example, he received the city’s Gold Medal in 1896:
“Upon recommendation by the members of the jury, the toolmaker Robert Mühle in Glashütte is hereby awarded the gold commemorative medal of the City of Dresden for the measuring tools of his own creation and innovation for watchmakers and precision toolmakers shown at the 1896 Saxony exhibition of craftsmen and artists in Dresden”,
according to the official certificate issued on September 28, 1896 and handed over along with the Gold Medal. As a recipient of the Gold Medal, Robert Mühle joined the group of dynamic entrepreneurs who played an essential role in shaping the reputation of Glashütte as a centre of German watchmaking, with the great precision used by the Mühle family encouraging and enabling others able to do the same.
A THOUSANDTH OF A MILLIMETRE
At the beginning of the 20th century, our family company was flourishing. As the sole manufacturer of dial gauges for Glashütte, Robert Mühle offered a comprehensive range of high-precision measuring instruments. In fact, his mechanical Robert Mühle dial gauge enabled users to record precise measurements that were accurate to the nearest thousand of a millimetre. Back then, providing such a high level of precision was unheard of and therefore an extremely impressive achievement. We ultimately still produce components for our wristwatches that are accurate to the nearest thousandth of a millimetre – nowadays, however, with the help of our state-of-the-art CNC machining centres.
THE YEAR OF BIRTH OF HANS MÜHLE
Hans Mühle (1903-1970) was born as the son of Paul and Elisabeth Mühle and was one of Robert Mühle’s grandsons. After completing his university studies, he worked as a production engineer. Hans Mühle was born with a passion for precise measurement, not only due to his paternal background, but also thanks to his mother, whose maiden name was Stübner. The Stübner family boasted a strong reputation as manufacturers of chronometers used to time the lighting of beacons.
THE Second GENERATION
ALFRED, MAX AND PAUL MÜHLE
In recognition of the sons’ involvement, the company was renamed “R. Mühle & Sohn” on 1st July 1905. Max and Alfred were the first sons to join their father’s company before Paul Mühle followed suit at a later point in time. Otto Paul (1872–1931), Arthur Max (1874–1944) and Alfred Otto Mühle (1878–1940) are Robert Mühle’s sons from his second marriage. After losing his first wife just one year after their wedding, Robert Mühle married Bertha Alwine Franke (1846–1913) in 1867.
EXPANSION OF PRODUCTION
Ever since it was founded in 1869, R. Mühle & Son had established a superb reputation as a manufacturer of precise measuring devices. On the basis of this reputation, Paul, Alfred and Max Mühle – the second generation of the family-owned company – were able to successfully expand its production activities into a new field. From 1918/19 onwards, our family therefore also produced speedometers, rev counters and car clocks. The fact that the company also supplied dial gauges for the first automotive manufacturers in the city of Zwickau in Saxony played an important role in the expansion of its production activities when one of these manufacturers asked Mühle to develop a speedometer. The company rose to the challenge and initially developed a speedometer for Horch before gradually welcoming new customers such as the Elite factories in Brand-Erbisdorf and DKW in Zschopau. It wasn’t long before many different motorcycles equipped with Glashütte Mühle speedometers were on the road, for example those from Wanderer in Chemnitz, BMW, D-Rad, Triumph, A.J.S. and many more.
VEREINIGTE WERKE GLASHÜTTE/SA.
The faces of many Mühle speedometers bear a windmill, which is the English translation of the German word “Mühle”, with the insignia “Vereinigte Werke Glashütte/Sa.”. In January 1920, R. Mühle & Son merged with other Glashütte companies to create a general partnership under the name of “Vereinigte Glashütter Rechenmaschinenfabriken, Tachometer- und Feinmechanische Werke A. Burkhardt & Cie. – ‘Saxonia’ Schumann & Cie. – R. Mühle & Sohn”. After the dissolution of the so-called “Vereinigte Werke”, speedometers and car clocks were once again sold under the “R. Mühle & Sohn” insignia.
A CORPORATE VISION
The extension of Mühle’s manufacturing activities by adding speedometers and car clocks to its existing range of dial gauges proved to be an extremely successful move for our family company. It provided R. Mühle & Sohn with a second string to its bow, which was particularly important during typical economic periods such as the Great Depression, when many watch manufacturers in Glashütte were forced to close down. From 1930 onwards, R. Mühle & Sohn additionally manufactured car clocks for lorries and time measuring instruments for motorcycles produced by the company Wanderer alongside its range of speedometers. In addition to these products, Mühle also manufactured more and more on-board clocks with an off-centre second hand for military use in order to keep up with increasing demand.
A PASSION FOR PRECISE MEASUREMENT
All of the characteristics of the highly precise measuring instruments made by Robert Mühle also apply to the high-precision rotating pendulum speedometers that the company started producing in 1918. These devices, for example the new speedometer designed for DKW in 1938, were able to achieve a deviation of less than one percent from the speed or total number of kilometres displayed.
NATIONALISATION IN GLASHÜTTE
R. Mühle & Sohn’s success story continued right up until the period of commotion that took place after the end of the Second World War, when a large number of companies in Glashütte, including our family business, were expropriated and dismantled. Only 20 percent of their equipment and production facilities remained in Glashütte and were incorporated into the Zeiss factories in the city of Jena under the name of “Messtechnik Glashütte” (‘Glashütte Measurement Technology’).
THE Third GENERATION
Hans Mühle was born as the son of Paul Mühle in 1903. After completing his degree, he worked as an operating engineer in the Heliowatt factory in the Polish city of Świdnica. When he returned to Glashütte in 1945, he was classified as a war refugee by the Soviet administration. The fact that the Soviets did not recognise his connections with his previously expropriated family, the experienced engineer was appointed as Sales manager of “VEB Optik Messtechnik Glashütte”.
THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FAMILY COMPANY
The expropriation of the company “R. Mühle & Sohn”, which had been operating successfully for over 75 years, was a huge blow to our family. Nevertheless, thanks to the third generation of our family company, the name “Mühle” continued to be associated with precise measurement. Hans Mühle founded a new company in December 1945 and as a result, the family company was given the new name of “Ing. Hans Mühle”. Hans Mühle not only founded this new family company alongside his work as the manager of the expropriated company “R. Mühle & Sohn” but also based its headquarters in the very same building. While the first two floors of the original Mühle building contained speedometer production and repair facilities, its top floor was home to the production of motion works for pressure and temperature measuring devices or the “Kontolina” ruling device.
PRECISION AND FINE MECHANICS
Under the name “Ing. Hans Mühle”, our family company manufactured an extremely wide variety of measuring equipment, for example travelling mechanisms and escapements for the photography and cinema industries or motion works for pressure and temperature measuring devices.
A FAMILY BUSINESS REMAINS STRONG IN THE FACE OF SOCIALISM
The number of staff working at the company increased from three to an impressive total of 60 employees within just a few years. At the time, “Ing. Hans Mühle” was the only manufacturer of motion works for pressure and temperature measuring devices in East Germany and remained a privately owned company despite the political circumstances in the German Democratic Republic.
THE Fourth GENERATION
THE FOURTH GENERATION TAKES THE HELM
When Hans Mühle passed away in 1970, his son Hans-Jürgen Mühle took over his father’s company. Hans-Jürgen Mühle (*1941) had studied Precision Engineering and Optics in Jena before going on to work at one of his father’s company’s suppliers. He was therefore very familiar with Mühle’s business activities and was able to carry on his father’s work until our family was expropriated for a second time in 1972.
THE NATIONALISATION OF “ING. HANS MÜHLE”
In 1972, our family company was expropriated for a second time and converted into the state-owned enterprise “VEB Feinmechanik Glashütte” (‘Glashütte Precision Engineering’). Hans-Jürgen Mühle continued in his role as the plant manager of the enterprise, which was operated as an independent company for eight more years.
INCORPORATION INTO THE GUB
After being converted into “VEB Feinmechanik Glashütte”, the family company “Ing. Hans Mühle” also lost its independence in 1980, when it was incorporated into the “VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe” (‘Glashütte Watchmaking Plants’), known as GUB for short, as “Plant Area 7 – Measurement and Control Technology”. Hans-Jürgen Mühle was then employed in the GUB sales department and went on to become the Sales Manager of the conglomerate. In this role, he was responsible for GUB’s global sales and distribution activities for marine time systems and marine chronometers and the sales and distribution of its wristwatches in Eastern Europe.
HANS-JÜRGEN MÜHLE IS APPOINTED AS THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF GUB
The reunification of Germany opened up a world of new business opportunities for the Mühle family. As the Sales Manager of VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe, Hans-Jürgen Mühle and four other colleagues were appointed as managing directors and given the task of converting the company into the newly applicable economic system in 1990. After successfully completing this task, Hans-Jürgen Mühle left Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe GmbH in order to pursue his true calling in another area.
NAUTISCHE INSTRUMENTE MÜHLE-GLASHÜTTE
In 1994, Hans-Jürgen Mühle re-established the family company under the name of “Mühle-Glashütte GmbH nautische Instrumente und Feinmechanik”. By doing so, he wanted to reinstate his full commitment to precision and precise measurement. As the GUB Sales Manager for marine chronometers and marine time systems, he had already established a network of contacts containing shipyards and yacht manufacturers all over the world. The fact that the company Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe GmbH was no longer producing nautical timepieces meant that the demand for traditional marine time systems and marine chronometers from Glashütte was huge. Mühle therefore began his production activities with two employees on 1st April 1994 and was able to successfully establish the new company.
THE FIRST WRISTWATCHES
In 1995, one of the shipyards to which we supplied our products asked us if we could also supply a number of robust water-resistant wristwatches to be used on its ships. Our history had already taught us that when it comes to precision engineering, nothing is impossible for the Mühle family. After all, we had already successfully manufactured high-precision measuring instruments, speedometers and car clocks. Hans-Jürgen therefore quickly responded to the shipyard’s enquiry: of course we can! This response signalled the start of Mühle-Glashütte’s wristwatch production activities, with the company’s nautical values incorporated into the watches’ DNA, so to speak, right from the word go. It therefore comes as no surprise that the first two Mühle wristwatches available to purchase were its “Herren-Sporttaucher-Uhr” men’s sport diving watch and “Marinefliegeruhr-I” marine pilots’ watch. The first ever wristwatch to be produced by our company, however, had no name. The predecessor to the men’s sport diving watch was simply part of the equipment used on ships – a time measuring instrument designed to perform a task.
THE Fifth GENERATION
A FAMILY COMPANY IN ITS FIFTH GENERATION
Thilo Mühle (*1968) joined the family company in the year 2000 and became the fifth generation of the Mühle family to do so. With his down-to-earth approach typical of Mühle-Glashütte, he initially took on responsibility for the product development of our wristwatches. Four years later, he went on to become a Managing Director alongside his father.
56 S.A.R. RESCUE-TIMERS FOR THE SEA RESCUE CREWS
On 15th February 2002, the first S.A.R. Rescue-Timers were presented to the captains Erwin Borchardt and Lutz Griesberg in the seaside resort of Warnemünde, a district of the city of Rostock. The watch had been developed in cooperation with the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS). All 56 S.A.R. Rescue-Timers have been facing an ongoing endurance test on the vessels of the DGzRS since autumn 2002.
THE PATENTED WOODPECKER NECK REGULATION
The patented woodpecker neck regulation is a further development of the renowned swan neck fine regulation from Glashütte. Its special shape, which resembles the head and neck of a woodpecker, makes it particularly shockproof. The woodpecker neck regulation therefore not only facilitates the particularly sensitive adjustment of Mühle watches, but also makes them extremely robust.
THILO MÜHLE ASSUMES SOLE MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITY
In 2007, the fifth generation of the Mühle family officially took the helm of Nautische Instrumente Mühle-Glashütte. Thilo Mühle had already joined the company seven years earlier and was initially responsible for product development before being appointed Managing Director alongside his father. His career path is a good example of what we mean when we refer to continuity, tradition and passing on knowledge to the next generation. After all, these are essential elements for ensuring that the expertise incorporated into our wristwatches and nautical instruments will be preserved for many years to come. They also enable us to rest assured that our time measuring instruments will be constantly further developed because future generations will help to progress our development activities with their new ideas.
THE NEWLY DEVELOPED MÜHLE THREE-QUARTER PLATE
The three-quarter plate is a typical characteristic of high-quality Glashütte watches. It gets its name from the fact that it covers approximately three quarters of the watch movement. In line with the Glashütte tradition, our newly developed plate is also fitted with the classic Glashütte click and a removable escape wheel bridge. In 2008, the Mühle three-quarter plate was launched and was initially used in the company’s chronograph movements. The basic movement was then modified so profoundly that it had to be given its own, and Mühle’s first, calibre designation: MU 9408.
THE FIRST HAND-WOUND MOVEMENT DESIGNED COMPLETELY IN-HOUSE
The MU 9411 hand-wound movement was the first movement to be fully designed by Nautische Instrumente Mühle-Glashütte from start to finish. The majority of the components that play an essential role when it comes to the quality and precision of the movement were, and still are, manufactured at the company or especially for the company. Our CNC machining centres are used to manufacture parts such as the solid Glashütte three-quarter plate, in which the crown wheel and ratchet wheel are mounted in a visible position. The hand-wound movement was premiered in the Teutonia III Handaufzug.
MÜHLE CELEBRATES ITS 145TH ANNIVERSARY WITH A MANUFACTURING LINE
Under the leadership of Thilo Mühle, the company not only developed its first hand-wound movement, MU 9411, but also, and above all, the Robert Mühle RMK 01 and 02 calibres. These calibres form the magnificent centrepiece of the “R. Mühle & Sohn” manufacturing line, which was unveiled on the 145th anniversary of the founding of the company by Robert Mühle.
ROBERT MÜHLE ZEIGERDATUM
The Robert Mühle Zeigerdatum with the mechanical hand-wound movement RMK 03 was presented in 2016. It is equipped with the power reserve display Auf/Ab and the Mühle pointer date. The exclusive timepiece is limited to 100 pieces.
FAMILY COMPANY IN THE 6TH GENERATION
Dustin Mühle (* 1991) is the son of Thilo Mühle. After completing his training as an aircraft mechanic, he studied industrial engineering at the Dresden University of Applied Sciences with a focus on corporate management in medium-sized companies. Dustin Mühle has been working permanently for Mühle-Glashütte since February 2018 and, among other things, carries out an analysis of our production processes and organizational structure. Together with his father, he is setting up the family business well for the future so that Mühle-Glashütte will remain an independent family business for many generations to come.
CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF EXISTENCE WITH 150 ELEGANT TIME MEASURING INSTRUMENTS: THE ROBERT MÜHLE MONDPHASE
For our family, 2019 is a year of very special celebrations, not only marking 25 years of “Nautische Instrumente Mühle-Glashütte” but also, and above all, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the company by Robert Mühle. This marked the start of our long-term commitment to achieving precise measurement and our strong passion for manufacturing high-precision mechanical time measuring instruments, which are still going strong in the present day. This mission has now been defining the history of our family company for 150 years, every step of the way. In the company’s anniversary year of 2019, Mühle-Glashütte’s manufacturing line is now welcoming its third new complication designed in house. Alongside its new moon phase display, the impressive 42-millimetre-large platinum, red gold or stainless steel case of this limited special edition also houses the company’s very own up/down display and the Mühle hand date.
AN INDEPENDENT FAMILY COMPANY
Mühle-Glashütte started the year 2022 with a total of 66 employees, 39 of whom are involved in the company’s production activities.