Timekeeping in the former East Germany

Ruhla Digital

From the early development of digital watches in the worldwide watchmaking community, Ruhla was well aware that digital watches were going to be an important part of the future for watchmaking. As with many manufacturers of watches during the 1970s, Ruhla adapted mechanical movements and designed watch cases to imitate digital watches. Ruhla launched the Digital 73 mechanical digital watches from 1973 until 1978 using the calibre 24-34.

The “Digi 73” was hailed in the Neues Deutschland newspaper of 14th February 1973, “Some new features are expected at the Spring Fair, for example, “Digi 73” a watch with digital time indication which replaces the digits and hands on the dial. It is a new development from the newly formed combine in honour of the 10th World Youth Festival.”

By 1977, Ruhla in conjunction with the Soviet watch industry had developed digital quartz movements and these were produced from 1978 onwards. Ruhla developed the quartz LED stop watch for the Interkosmos space flight of Sigmund Jähn which took place in the summer of 1978.  The East German Government recognised the importance of microelectronic developments in time keeping and on the 1st January 1978 the Ruhla Watch Factory was combined with the microelectronics industry under the VEB Kombinat Mikroelektronik „Karl Marx“ Erfurt.

The Combine continued to develop LCD quartz watches and analogue quartz alarm clocks and stop watches throughout the 1980s.


2 responses

  1. Dale

    I found a Ruhla on eBay that I do not see listed here. I did not purchase it as it was declared not fully functional, but I am intrigued by the design. Does the hour wheel not look aligned properly? You would think it would align with the arrow perfectly.


    May 24, 2015 at 6:52 am

    • This is a ladies Ruhla mechanical digital watch. Notice there is a black triangle arrow which points to the hour wheel. You line up the hour with this arrow to mark the time. Many jump hour watches of the 1970s had this sort of arrangement where lines or arrows were used on the dial or even on the crystal itself. Its alignment is probably due to the fact that the movement, a Ruhla 24-36 calibre, is adapted to fit. The calibre 24 series were all variations on a basic theme which was orginally designed to fit mens watches as well as womens and children’s.

      May 24, 2015 at 4:43 pm

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