Saturday, September 8, 2007

WEMPE Chronometer Certification

To earn the right to be called a chronometer, a watch must prove the accuracy of its rate during a standardized testing procedure, and the timepiece’s precision must be certified by an official testing authority. The reason for this elaborate process becomes understandable when one considers the historical background that led to the invention of the chronometer.

As late as the mid-eighteenth century, most mariners were unable to precisely determine their position at sea because they lacked a reliable means of measuring time. This knowledge is essential for the calculation of a ship’s current longitude. Unnecessary detours and seagoing accidents were frequent consequences. This unsatisfactory situation persisted until 1759, when Englishman John Harrison invented the chronometer. Harrison succeeded in constructing a timepiece so accurate that it could be used to calculate the difference between the time at the vessel’s home harbour and the actual time on board, also making it possible to determine longitude. Combined with the known latitude, the two values precisely indicated the vessel’s current position.

Crafting a chronometer requires time and patience. The labour invested by the watchmakers bears fruit in the pleasure these timepieces give their owners. When Wempe decided to establish its own production site for chronometers in Glashütte a few years ago, only one location seemed truly appropriate.

Our production site is situated where the air is cleanest and the heavens most clearly visible: At the observatory that towers high above Glashütte in Saxony. Though this is a comparatively small town containing only 4,500 inhabitants, its name raises the pulse rates of watch aficionados all over the world.

The observatory’s campus now includes a facility where watches are tested in accordance with the German chronometer norm. Wempe collaborates at the restored observatory with the state offices for weights and measurements of Thuringia and Saxony. Some sixty years after Wempe’s first activities in Glashütte, the company is once again helping to make sure that Glashütte remains a synonym for superlative German watchmaking. And the town’s observatory has finally become what it was always intended to be.

All year round, the night sky offers an incredible variety of fascinating views. Visitors can experience this fascination by means of a telescope at the Glashütte observatory.

An increasingly large number of renowned watchmakers began settling in Glashütte during the second half of the nineteenth century. Their trailblazing inventions contributed to the outstanding reputation enjoyed by this Mecca of German watchmaking, and their unconventional timepieces earned praise and recognition beyond Germany’s frontiers.

(if you are interested to know more, check the site)

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