Kriegsmarine KM 720
It is astonishing the number of timepieces of each kind which were budgeted for every type of ship. Many of the watches and clocks came from the little town of Glashuette in the mountainous area of the Erzgebirge near Dresden in Saxony. This is the home of the famous pocket watch and chronometer firm of Lange & Soehne, as well as other firms like Assmann.
The German Bureau of Ships in Hamburg tested chronometers in Gesundbrunnen near Glashuette, far away from the coast. Many timepieces for the Navy were manufactured on the coast, e.g., the best known is “Chronometerwerke Hamburg,” later owned by Wempe. In some cases they used movements by Glashuette, like those of the “eGmbH,” a.s.o. Later, during World War II, chronometer production was contracted to the “Einheits-Chronometer” and built as well by Wempe and by Lange & Sohne. As they could not produce a sufficient number of chronometer movements, they reconstructed the pocket watch caliber 48 in a gimbeled chronometer box, the well-known Lange-B-Chronometer.
Beside German-made items, there were many of Swiss origin, made like the very nice chronometer by Ulysse Nardin, or the navigation watches of IWC, Ulysse Nardin and Vacheron & Constantin. As well, there were German manufacturers, especially in the Black Forest, completing navigation watches with Swiss movements, such as Stowa (cal. Unitas). Lacher & Co. took the movement of Durowe (Deutsche Uhren-Rohwerke of Pforzheim) and Alpina had Minerva chronograph movements.
The Navy used some special watches for particular purposes, such as locating submarines with water bombs. The stopwatch used for this purpose has special scales to measure sea miles and depth of water. For normal use, there were more simple wrist and pocket watches of German and Swiss origin, (Alpina, Minerva, Berg, Zentra, Cortebert, Solvil…) marked “KM” on the dial. The Navy artillery used pocket chronographs with the “KM” for “Kriegsmarine” on the dial.
Info by Konrad Knirim (Germany) ‘NAWCC Bulletin’ Dec. 1996