A memorial to Walter Lange

Glashütte pays tribute to the watchmaking pioneer who played a key role in rebuilding Saxony’s precision watchmaking industry from 1990.

A memorial to the company’s founder Walter Lange was unveiled in the redesigned square outside the Saint Wolfgang church on 18 September as part of celebrations to mark the 175th anniversary of Glashütte’s watchmaking industry. By doing so, the town is paying tribute to the man who brought precision watchmaking to Glashütte for a second time after the German reunification in 1990. Without his far-sighted decision to continue his family’s legacy and make a fresh start, there would be no flourishing watchmaking industry in Saxony today.

“When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Walter Lange was concerned with more than just reviving the A. Lange & Söhne name,” explained Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid. “He always viewed it as a major personal endeavour to provide a new outlook for the people of Glashütte. These two goals were equally important to him.” According to Wilhelm Schmid, continuing the legacy of Walter Lange remains both a challenge and a duty: “We are continuing Walter Lange’s work just as he intended, with a commitment to the well-being of the town and its people.”

The mayor of Glashütte, Markus Dressler, described Walter Lange as “a courageous watchmaking pioneer to whom Glashütte owes a great deal.” He added: “He deserves this memorial erected in recognition of his life’s work, a memorial that reminds us of his dedication to Glashütte.”

The ceremony was attended by guests from the world of politics, society, and business. The unveiling was described as “a very poignant moment” by Hartmut Knothe, who helped to build the company from the ground up as one of the first managing directors. The former Minister-President of Saxony, Kurt Biedenkopf, joined the son of the honoured, Benjamin Lange, in thanking the companies involved, as well as the people of Glashütte and the Free State of Saxony, without whose support this project would never have come to fruition.

Hamburg sculptor Thomas Jastram has succeeded in capturing the essence of Walter Lange, depicting him as a life-sized bronze figure that meets the onlooker at eye level. This ties in with the general perception of Walter Lange as a warm and approachable person, someone who never wanted to be put on a pedestal. By creating the impression of Lange’s likeness taking a step forward, the sculptor has encapsulated the dynamic personality of an individual who vowed never to stand still. The spatial exploration of the human form is a key theme in the work of Thomas Jastram, who studied at the Dresden University of Fine Arts.

The site of the memorial on the redesigned church square reflects the intimate connection between the Lange family and Glashütte. It stands just a few metres away from the commemorative stone for Walter Lange’s great-grandfather Ferdinand Adolph Lange, who brought precision watchmaking to Glashütte for the first time 175 years ago.