Timekeeping in the former East Germany

Thiel Brothers / UMF Ruhla – The London Connection

Before the Great War (1914-18), Thiel Brothers watches were distributed in the United Kingdom by Stahlecker’s who were located at 8, Christopher Street, Finsbury Square, London. Charles Frederick Stahlecker established his company in 1890. During the period from the 1890s to 1914, Thiel Brothers developed a close relationship with Stahlecker, so much so that Stahlecker’s daughter married a Thiel Brothers sales manager. Thiel watches were sold by Stahlecker under his own brand name of Ex-El. During the Great War trade ceased for obvious reasons.

Stahlecker - A surviving house on Christopher Street Finsbury Square London similar to the one occupied by Stahlecker's

Stahlecker – A surviving house on Christopher Street Finsbury Square London similar to the one occupied by Stahlecker’s

Stahlecker - Entry in the Edinburgh Gazette 1923 p1407

Stahlecker – Entry in the Edinburgh Gazette asa watch importer 1923 p1407

Stahlecker Ex-El Watches Advert 1909 - Gebrüder Thiel

Stahlecker Ex-El Watches Advert 1909 – Gebrüder Thiel

Later in the 1920s, following the First World War, Gebrüder Thiel expanded their supply chain back into the UK by setting up a distribution office in London at 39 Aldersgate Street in the City of London. The watches were sold under their own brand names such as the Champion pocket watch below. However, they were also supplied to other UK manufacturers. One of these manufactureres was the Services Watch Company whose London office was located at 23 Grosvenor Street, London W1. The Thiel Brothers building at 39 Aldersgate is no longer there as this area of London received heavy bombing during the war. However, it was located on the site of Lauderdale Buildings, on Aldersgate Street. The site of the Thiel office is now occupied by Lauderdale Tower of the Barbican Centre.

 

During the 1930s and again after the Second World War, Thiel Brothers and later VEB UMF Ruhla continued their association with the Services Watch Company in the United Kingdom. A number of post war watch designs were identical apart from the branding meaning the product was entirely produced by UMF Ruhla for sale by Services in the UK. VEB UMF Ruhla sold watches in over 80 nations around the world earning the East German government valuable hard currency to use in the world economy outside of the Warsaw pact countries.

N.B. Post war Services watches were sourced from a number of different manufacturers throughout Europe and the UK and therefore not all Services watches are Ruhla made. The Services Watch Company factory was located in Tyrell Street Leicester

Services  / UMF Ruhla equivalents.

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