Timekeeping in the former East Germany

Ruhla Wackelaugen (Waggle eyes)

Ruhla made a range of children’s “waggle eyes” (or “wackelaugen” in German) watches. Below is one of the GDR’s most iconic images reflected in this children’s Ruhla watch, that of the Sandmann. The movement, the UMF 24-26 is based on the UMF Ruhla 24 calibre with a variation, an elongated armature shaft, to allow the moving eyes beneath the dial.

The watches were made with various designs and have become increasingly popular for collectors. There are other designs with GDR children’s characters such as “Max und Moritz” (see below) and they were produced under several different brand names used by Ruhla. In the USSR, Luch also made children’s watches with cartoon characters from Soviet children’s television but these were not animated like the Ruhla watches.

The original privately owned company, Gebrüder Thiel, that was nationalised by the communist regime after the Second World War, made pocket watches with moving images on the dial towards the end of the 19th Century and into the 20th Century. Gebrüder Thiel also made Mickey Mouse watches with moving parts for Disney in the 1930s for supply to the UK. These watches were probably the original inspiration for the Wackelaugen watches for children.

DDR Ruhla Sandmann Wackelaugen

DDR Ruhla Sandmann Wackelaugen

Balance branded Ruhla Clown Waggle Eyes Clock Calibre 69

Balance branded Ruhla Clown Waggle Eyes Clock Calibre 69











Images of the UMF 24-26 movement showing the moving eyes mechanism can be found here

4 responses

  1. christine stafford

    I have the Cat one but… mine is on a round face (round mount not square mount) with ruhla on the face and the face mount is gold.. I am struggling to find this particular model can anyone please advice. Thank you.

    January 8, 2017 at 3:15 am

    • Hello Christine,

      Your cat waggle-eyes watch was produced in round cases. It appears in the 1986/87 catalogue. It will have the same Calibre 24 movement as all the other waggle-eyes watches. Ruhla produced a whole range of these watches for children under the Ruhla, Saxon and Karex brand names.


      January 8, 2017 at 5:03 pm

  2. connie

    I have the cartoon cat one. Love it! And it still works after all this time. I just need to replace the band. Are original bands still available?

    October 11, 2013 at 2:49 am

    • Hello Connie,

      These are very reliable watches and just keep going! There are some watch straps made in the GDR still available on Ebay.de but they may not necessarily be orginal Ruhla watchstraps. Search on the German Ebay using the search words “uhrenarmband DDR” to find what is currently available. However note that many German sellers do not post outside Germany and often request bank transfers to avoid Ebay seller fees.

      Good luck!


      October 11, 2013 at 6:26 pm

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