The model of the famous five-minute clockHow time came to Glashuette
The collection of historical timepieces in the Mathematisch-Physikalischen Salon in the Dresdner Zwinger is one of the most important collections in the world. It provides an overview of the history of precision clock- and watch-making from the 16th to 19th century, which was at its peak in Europe at that time. In this unique setting, the art of watchmaking in Saxony is very prominent.
Under the patronage of the Electors of Saxony – first and foremost, August the Strong – it had reached a level of achievement by the early 19th century which established the city’s reputation as the centre of clock- and watchmaking, and which extended far beyond the borders of Saxony. Thanks to their brilliant constructional ideas, the Court Watchmakers and Principals of the Mathematisch-Physikalischen Salon, with prestigious names such as Seyffert, Schumann and Gutkaes, became the protagonists of a success story that culminated in the establishment of the watchmaking industry in Glashütte in 1845 by the Dresdner Ferdinand Adolph Lange.
Since the spring of 2007 the Mathematisch-Physikalische Salon has been closed for extensive renovation work. Until it reopens in 2009 with almost double the display area, around 40 selected items from the timepiece collection of the Salon are on display at the premises of A. Lange & Söhne in Glashütte. One of the showpieces of the exhibition is indubitably the model of the famous five-minute clock in the auditorium of the Semper opera house. According to legend, its design dates back to the Saxon King Friedrich August II who was irritated by the repeater pocket watches that were fashionable at the time. To remedy this state of affairs he ordered that a silent stage clock should be built for the new court opera house, “which would differ from the usual time display with dial and hands”. This very tall order was given in 1841 to Gutkaes, later watchmaker to the Court, who came up with the extraordinary idea of building a digital display. When the Lange Company was re-established in 1990, this clock inspired the outsize date that was to become the identifying feature of the Lange brand.