3.05 – Clockmaking in Austria

Last Update: 07-23-2022 @ 04:04

3.05.1 – Highlights

14th c.

The first Austrian watchmaker lived in Olmutz, Bohemia, in 1392. At the time, anybody building clocks without belonging to the Clockmakers Corporation could be imprisoned. Each city or county could have its own corporation. In Vienna, a clockmaker could receive one or the other degree Common Master or Vienna Clockmaker Master. The Imperial Court could give clockmakers the right to add one of the mentions after their name: By Her Imperial Highness, Court Appointed or By Her Highness Privilege or Protected by Privileged Guild Relationship.

15th c.

The first half of the 15th century saw the apparition of the so-called watchman clock. The watchman was lodged in high towers, its main task being to watch for enemies or fires and give time to the town inhabitants. To do so, they had iron-made weight-driven skeleton movements with one hand. At each hour, or when a particular event occurred, they blew a horn or struck the tower bell. They had sundials and sand glasses to correct the imprecision of these rudimentary movements. More prosperous towns had turret clocks mounted in the secular or church towers, some of them able to give the hour but with no great precision.

End of the 15th c.

In Graz, Styria, a smaller dial containing the Roman numerals I to IIII was added inside the figures of the hours in several clock turrets capable of giving the hours.

End of the 15th c.

Austrian domestic clocks were metal shelf Gothic style.


Nikolaus Lanz of Innsbruck produced a spring table clock. Andreas Illmer did the same in 1659.


The famous “Bohemian” wooden clock belonging to Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol, on display at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, is known from this period.

18th c.

Many furniture clocks were produced in The Cities of Austria, modeled after the English Clock Brackets but more decorated.

C. 1700-1725

The introduction of the pendulum affects the development of so-called Kuhschwanz clocks, literally “cow tails.”

1770 and ff.

The Austrian Marie Antoinette became the wife of Louis XVI, which influenced the Austrian clockmakers who modeled their creations on French clocks. The dials are smaller and Arabic numerals replace Roman numerals. Many Swiss and French immigrant clockmakers opened workshops in Vienna. They produced for a wealthy clientele watches, travel clocks, and astronomical clocks in the French style with gold and silver ornated cases.

Late 18th c.

The famous Viennese regulators were born at the end of the 18th century. These are high-precision clocks because of their long pendulum and a recoil-free anchor-type escapement known as the Graham escapement. Because of the Vienna Clockmakers Corporation’s strict rules, the name Vienna Regulator was applied only to those manufactured within the city’s limits. That is why the major German 19th-century manufacturers of regulator clocks were never authorized to use the name Vienna Regulator in their catalog, although Vienna-made regulators inspired their forms.
The most popular clocks are mantel clocks with dial and movement supported by pillars that form a series of arcades. The other popular type is a table clock with a small dial in the middle. In the market for cheap clocks, the people’s clocks, we have the Bretteluhr, a small wall clock with exposed weights and clocks, and even smaller, the Zappler with a very short pendulum.


Founding of the Karlstein School of Clockmaking (UHRMACHER SCHULE).


With the influence of the “Black Forest” and Silesia clocks, Austrian clocks became larger again.

1945 and ff.

Austrian clockmaking died after the Second World War, and the Austrians imported clocks from Germany and France.

3.05.2 – Famous Clockmakers


Father Aureliano taught mathematics at the Monastery of the Imperial Court of Vienna. He fabricated (c. 1770) a highly decorated and mechanically complex astronomical clock.

BEHAIM, Moritz

Moritz Behaim from Vienna was the clockmaker of the court in the middle of the 16th century.


David Rutschmann(1726-1796) was a joiner, the son of a carpenter from the Black Forest. He entered the Order of the Discalced Augustinians in 1754 as Frater David Cajetano. He then studied mathematics, mechanics, and astronomy in Vienna. He applied his knowledge in developing an astronomical clock with a universal calendar capable of illustrating the movements of the planets, the length of day and night, and the time of sunset and sunrise. He completed the clock for his monastery in Vienna in 1769. It is nowadays on display at the Vienna Clock Museum.
(Educational Fair Use of the image from the Vienna Clock Museum)

ERB, Albert

The clockmaker Albert Erb (1628-1714) was present at the court and as a city councillor in Vienna. He was a specialist in astronomical clocks.

HOYER, Johann Adam

Johann Adam Hoyer (?-1838), a clockmaker from Vienna, developed a clock whose rewinding was powered by hydrogen, as done by the Italian Pasquale Andervalt around 1835.


Anton Reinlein was a clockmaker specializing in musical clocks in the first quarter of the 19th century. He obtained a patent in 1824 to improve Physharmonica in the Chinese tradition. It was a large instrument, almost 1 meter long by 30 cm wide and 38 cm deep (36 x 12 x 15 in.).

ZECH, Jacob

Jacob Zech is recognized as the inventor of the fusee clock hub, but it is known that Leonardo da Vinci had already drawn it before. He would have created a fusee clock around 1525, but Peter Henlein had made one in 1510. He was also responsible for maintaining the Prague City Hall Astronomical Clock.

3.05.3 – Manufacturers


Franz Baumann (mid-19th century) was a court clockmaker and a chronometer and clockmaker. He used the technic of the tourbillon in its watches.


Julius Bellak, a Vienna watchmaker, produced watches, watch movements, dials, and cases for trade between 1903 and 1925. Over this period, he registered many watch trademarks like Angelo, Graziosa, Olgetta, and Pallas in 1903, Bellmona, Fischmarke, and Rival in 1904. JBW, Genoveve in 1906, Edda, Hurra, Togga, Chiama, Rigorosa, and Seneta in 1907, Zenata in 1909. In 1925, he registered many new trademark graphics for Grazioza, Olgetta, Czikos, Nachtigall, and Protection.


At the beginning of the 20th century, Max Boehnel manufactured pocket watches under the 1906 Chronomax brand and timepieces. In 1905, he registered two other trademarks, Amalpha and Helios, and a graphic for the Schutz-Marke Flügel-Anker brand (two wings with an anchor in the middle).


Johann Collman from Tyrnau fabricated travel alarm clocks in the 1850s.


Johann Delucca (1697-1753), a Vienna clockmaker, made floor cases and carriage clocks in the first half of the 18th century.


Josef Pfeiffer, an immigrant from Bohemia, arrives in the Thaya River village of Munchreith, gathers employees, feeds them his watchmaking knowledge, and starts hand-crafting wall clocks made of wood whose wheels were made of pear wood boiled in flaxseed oil. They had only one needle and only worked for 12 hours. They did not yet have a pendulum. Thus, a clockmaking industry was born in Karlstein in 1730. Dworsky & Pfeiffer is recognized as the oldest clock factory in Austria. Johann Ringl, a clockmaker, worked there in 1754, and Franz Pfeiffer in 1762. In 1771, the factory produced clocks with wooden casings and movements. Between 1830 and 1840, it manufactured 140,000 clocks annually. In 1854, there were 80 clockmakers in the factory, but later on, a little more than 30.
In 1877, Michael Andres arrived from the Black Forest in Germany and introduced to Karlstein the small-scale manufacture of “The Black Forest” clocks. In 1903, Micheal Andres’s sister married Johann Dworsky and, together with his brother Max, founded the Andres-Dworsky company that made clocks, regulators, marine clocks, and cuckoos. In 1950, Johann Dworsky’s daughter married the clock manufacturer Johann Pfeiffer, who merged his company with Andres and Dworsky. The company reportedly ceased operations in 1973.

(A. M.) ENGLE -► A. M. ENGLE & CO.

A. M. Engle was a wholesaler and retailer of watches at the beginning of the 20th century. He registered the trademark Titania in 1905. In 1927, his company took the name of A. M. Engle & Co. and registered the trademark Seraph.


Erste Boemische Pendel Uhren Fabrik (First manufacturer of bohemian clocks) in Reichenberg, Boehmen. Gustav Reiss bought it in 1882. Lierse-Gehorsam took over and manufactured and sold floor, murals, and mantel clocks from 1905 to 1918.


Founded in 1882, Erste Karsteiner Karlstein’s Uhren Industrie (First Clock Factory in Karlstein) made small quantities of wooden motion clocks. In 1885, it produced an all-metal pendulum on an experimental basis.


Philipp Fertbauer (1763-1820) made lantern clocks in Vienna.


Joseph Geist (c. 1770-1824) from Gratz in Styria, the largest second city of Austria after Vienna, was the first Austrian clock producer.


Hauser & Hammacher was a wholesaler and retailer of pocket watches and parts registered in 1912.


Philipp Happacher (?-1843) from Vienna made a precision pendulum clock.


M. Herz und Söhn from Vienna supplied clocks to the Austrian Railways, the Ministry of War, and other ministries in 1919.


Isidor Kaiser was a general merchant, and a retailer of pocket watches in Vienna registered in 1912.


Vienna’s general merchant Otto Keberle registered the Imperial brand on September 2, 1939, for horological instruments, timers, alarm clocks, and clocks for the house and office.


Philipp Kohn is a wholesaler and retailer of clocks and watches parts. He registered several brands at the beginning of the 20th century: Fortuna, Vigilant, Renomé, Triumph, and Roskopf.


Lamm und Fleischer was a Vienna merchant, agent, and exporter of watches and alarm clocks at the beginning of the 20th century.


See Erste Boemische Pendel Uhren Fabrik.


Josep Nicolaus (1855-1923) made chronometers in Vienna.


The Oesterreichische Urhmacher Schule Karlstein (Karlstein School of Clockmaking) was created in 1873 in Karlstein, Thaya. It was lodged in an old stable. Gerhard Kern, a German wood clocks maker from the Black Forest, was appointed to manage it. It was more a production center of wood clocks and parts sold to Karlstein fabrics than a training center. It closed two years later and converted into a technical school but lodged in a more modern building. In 1878, Kurt Dietzschold (1852-1922), an engineer born in Dresden, Germany, and former owner of Strasser Und Rhode, a precision watch and clock manufacturer of Glashütte, Germany, was appointed director. He soon elevated the school to a world-class training and production center.


Otto Steiner, an Austro-Hungarian clockmaker, appeared in the clockmaking gazette and described himself as the only clock manufacturer in Vienna. From 1877 to 1893, Otto Steiner-Uhrenfabrik Wein & Karlstein was a wholesaler of American-style clocks, alarms, pendulums, weight, and spring clocks.


The Remember Clock Factory belonged to the Resch brothers when they moved to Ebensee in 1871. It produced more than 15,000 clocks annually under the trademark Remember.


Lorenz Resch, goldsmith and jeweler of the Austrian Imperial Court, founded with his brother Resch-Gebrueder Uhrenfabrik in 1862 in Vienna. It employed 80 persons and moved to Ebensee in 1871. When Lorenz died, his sons took over the company, and it became the largest clock company in the Austrian-Hungarian Danube Federation. In 1901, Junghans A.G., from Schramberg, Germany, bought the company. Its name then changed to Arthur Junghans Ebensee Urhenfabrik. The Ebensee factory was closed after World War I.


Daniel Sheyer (1582-1662) is listed as a Vienna clockmaker in the 17th century.


Stieglitz & Jabloner was a Vienna wholesaler and retailer of clocks, watches, and parts at the beginning of the 20th century. He registered the trademark Klythia in 1909.


Joseph Thaddäus Winnerl (1799-1886) was an Austrian watchmaker who mainly worked in Paris as a marine chronometer specialist.


The Zappler name comes from the sound of the pendulum movement. These small furniture clocks were made of low-cost materials, like wood and metal. Historians suggest that clockmaking students made them by hand. They were miniature clocks with a 30-hour watch movement, sometimes animated. Some of these could be considered nowadays as novelty clocks. They were made in Vienna and were very popular from 1725 to 1850.

Sources : Kochmann, 2007 and Wikis.

Next: 3.06 – Clockmaking in Denmark

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