Technology helps revive a classic name in timekeeping

Grossmann Uhren | Glashuette, Saxony, Germany

Technology helps revive a classic name in timekeeping

Grossmann uses Solid Edge and Insight to design innovative new luxury watches

Solid Edge helps revive a classic name in watchmaking

After a watchmaking apprenticeship in Munich, Christine Hutter held various jobs with renowned watchmakers and jewelers in Switzerland as well as in Munich and Glashuette, Germany. Hutter wanted to establish her own watchmaking company in the city of Glashuette, the birthplace of German watchmaking.

“My first thought had always been to manufacture exclusive, high-quality wristwatches, following in the tradition of the nearly forgotten watchmaker Moritz Grossmann, but with our own look and feel,” says Hutter, CEO of Grossmann Uhren GmbH (Grossmann). “As a place to realize my idea, it had to be Glashuette.”

In 2008, Hutter moved into a rented office in Glashuette as CEO of Grossmann. Shortly after that, she convinced Jens Schneider to join the company as chief designer to develop and manufacture wristwatches under the brand Moritz Grossmann.

The emerging company invested in information technology (IT) systems and high-precision computer numerical control (CNC) lathes, milling machines, wire electrical discharge machining (EDM) and gear-cutting machines. Hutter and her small team of employees introduced the company’s first watch model in 2010, called the Benu, in a limited edition of 100 pieces with rose gold watch cases and newly-developed movements. The entire production run sold out in six months.

Schneider starts a new design with freehand sketches and some calculations. Then he switches to using Solid Edge and creates several 2D drawings that contain – on different levels – the gears and other components such as the balance wheel, lever, and escapement. Then, the 2D sketches are converted into 3D models.

“Using Solid Edge, I can handle the many changes and variants that occur in the design process much faster than in the past,” notes Schneider. “The possibility to model parts within an assembly, as well as the integrated data management functions, offer a big advantage. We have created a numbering and classification system, which reflects our specific requirements and all changes are always transparent and understandable. In addition, using Solid Edge helps us to hide or display particular components or subassemblies during the 3D display on the screen. We could not have done what we have achieved so far without our CAD solution and our flexible and advanced CNC machine tools.”

“Although the design and manufacturing of a complex watch can be completed much faster than ever before using Solid Edge and advanced machine tools, there is still much time and effort required to fulfill our aesthetical ideas,” says Rainer Kern, head of communications at Grossmann. “In addition to the virtual 3D model of a watch, some prototypes still have to be produced to check the functions, the look and feel or to make required changes. Before batch production begins, special tools and jigs have to be designed and produced, also supported by using Solid Edge. This is necessary because the very small watch components cannot be fixed using standard tools, in most cases, both for machining and manual finishing.”

Highly skilled employees, high-tech tools and a lot of precision

While watchmaking requires meticulous handwork, not everything is done manually. Modern quality and timekeeping requirements can only be achieved with the help of modern tools for design and production. That is why Grossmann decided from the very beginning to use a modern computer-aided design (CAD) system. The company selected Solid Edge software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens Digital Industries Software because this solution is already well established in the watchmaking industry in Glashuette.