Timekeeping in the former East Germany

Ostalgie – Ruhla Watches of the former East Germany (DDR)

Ruhla watches and clocks made in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from 1952 to 1991.

For a short history of Ruhla watches, see Short History of Ruhla Watches and Gebrüder Thiel GbmH

Updated / Added April 2018 – Watches 13 and Ruhla Kitchen Timers / Kurzzeit Wecker

Updated February 2018 – Watches 13 and Ruhla Clocks 5

Updated / Added November 2017 – Watches 13 and Ruhla Watches Decade by Decade

Updated September 2017 – Ruhla and the Soviet Watch Industry and  Watches 13

Updated May 2017 – Ruhla in the life of East German Citizens 3

Updated March 2017 – Watches 12 and added Watches 13

Updated November 2016 –Watches 12

Added August 2016  – Watches 12 and Updated Ruhla in the life of East German Citizens 3

Continue to next page of photos


19 responses

  1. Aitor


    I have two questions about this watch.

    1) Ruhla still makes watches?

    2) I have a Ruhla Digital Jump hour. (Blue). When this watch stopped making?


    December 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

    • Hello Aitor,

      Thank you for visiting my Ruhla collection website. In answer to your questions;

      1) Ruhla does still make watches under the name Gardé Ruhla. Their website is http://www.garde.de/

      2) This is difficult to answer with absolute certainty but Soviet watchmakers started making LCD quartz digital watches from about 1974. Watch production in East Germany followed what was happening in the USSR and so this jump hour watch probably ceased production in the mid 1970s.



      December 14, 2010 at 4:58 pm

  2. Aitor

    Thank you very much for the information.



    December 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

  3. Sue

    Thank you for your very informative Ruhla site. I have just bought (March 2011) a very fine Ruhla Gardé radio controlled watch, I found your information very rewarding.

    April 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

    • Thank you for your kind comments. Enjoy wearing your Ruhla watch!

      April 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

  4. sukie

    Lovely site! Great watches too I had (have but its badly broken) a blue faced rhula with date window for my 4th birthday – a long time ago! Loved it! Do you know anyone who deals in old ones – Id love to find a replacement.

    June 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    • Hello Sukie,

      Thank you for your kind comments. The best place to pick up a Ruhla watch is Ebay. Obviously, as the watches were produced in East Germany, the best ones can be found on Ebay.de. Prices vary but have recently increased slightly as awareness of Ruhla watches has also increased.

      Ruhla movements are very simple and often all you need to do is have the movement serviced (cleaned and oiled) and they will happily tick for many years yet.

      I hope you find a replacement.


      June 15, 2011 at 6:14 pm

  5. Nick U

    Love the website- great resource. I’m reallly keen on the Ruhla children’s watches. Saw this one on ebay. http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/261003265258?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649#ht_500wt_922

    But the hands don’t look right to me – do you think they are replacement?

    April 16, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    • Hello Nicholas,

      Thank you for your kind comments about the website.

      Yes you are correct, these are replacement hands on this watch. These cat Wackelaugen (waggle eyes) watches come up for sale fairly frequently and prices vary. You should be able to find a more authentic one in time.



      April 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm

  6. Russell


    Did Ruhla ever use radium on their watches? I have a metal Ruhla pocket watch from the 50’s (it says Made in Germany on the dial), and was wondering if the glowing paint on the dial is radium?


    February 28, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    • Hello,

      Like most watch manufacturers, radium was used on earlier Ruhla watches. During the 1950s many manufacturers started to use other types of luminous paint. The hazards of radium lume can be found by googling or searching on watch forums. If the lume has crumbled or flaked, do not open the watch case.


      March 2, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      • Russell

        Thanks for the reply. The watch I have is very similar to this one: https://ostalgieruhla.wordpress.com/ruhla-pocket-and-stop-watches/imgp0004/

        Does the paint on the numbers on this watch contain radium?


        March 2, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      • It is hard to be definite as there does not appear to be any literature to say one way or another. West Germany banned the use of radium in 1960 and since Ruhla sold its products in West Germany, I would expect them to have ceased using radium but without any documentation, it is difficult to be certain. Certainly by the 1970s, I would doubt that any manufacturer used radium. Although it was used for military purposes by some countries for dials in aircraft.

        Sorry that I cannot be more precise. Without further information, I would urge caution.

        March 4, 2014 at 8:42 am

  7. Nigel

    Hello. I don’t know if it’s appropriate to leave this comment here, so forgive me if it’s not. I am wondering if you’ve ever seen this watch before: https://twitter.com/gulsonroad/status/839935693933551616 I am having trouble finding any information about it. It belonged to my grandfather. Thanks!

    March 9, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    • Hello Nigel,

      This pocket watch is one of the early Thiel Brothers Ruhla made watches depicting the Blacksmith. The movement is a Thiel Fearless Automaton and dates from the 1890s. It features a moving arm or leg of the character on the dial. These pocket watches were sold in Germany but also in the United Kingdom and The United States.

      The blacksmith is one of the more common variations of the automaton pocket watches. There were also the cyclist, the miner, the cobbler and the tailor.

      March 10, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      • Nigel

        Thank you SO MUCH for this info!

        March 10, 2017 at 9:46 pm

  8. I stumbled upon your site and I’m quite glad I did, some really excellent timepieces. One in particular really caught my eye and I’d love to get one for myself. Any suggestions on sources for acquiring these watches?

    November 1, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    • Hello Juan,

      Thank you for kind comments about the site. The best place to look is eBay. There are a number of sellers selling vintage Ruhla watches. Beware those with very high prices as these prices are inflated.

      Good luck.


      November 1, 2017 at 8:24 pm

      • Thank you very much for your reply. I have been looking at German Ebay, you’re not kidding about the price spread, anything from 10 to 200 Euros. Unfortunately a model similar to the one I was looking for is priced at the higher end of that scale. But that is probably just speculative pricing on the sellers part, unless it is very exotic, but I don’t think so.

        November 8, 2017 at 2:55 am

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