Contribution of Swiss Scientists in Watch Making Industry

The number of clocks to be maintained remains limited and new orders rare. So the life of a watchmaker is not easy. Tobias Liechtenstein never has enough work to feed his family, he has twenty children.

The number of clocks to be maintained remains limited and new orders rare. So the life of a watchmaker is not easy. Tobias Liechtenstein never has enough work to feed his family, he has twenty children. He proposed to the Council of Winterthur the construction of a new clock striking the hours and quarters. But the Council rejects his proposal, before decreed, after long deliberation, that new sounds of the bell every quarter of an hour could only plunge the population into unfortunate confusion. It should be noted in the discharge of the authorities that the only maintenance of public clocks was a significant burden for the treasury. For, in addition to the price paid to the watchmaker for his work, the city had to provide the master and his workers with food and drink.

In 1690, abandoning clocks and pendulums, Hans-Ulrich Liechtenstein began to use pocket watches. But the economic difficulties of this period appear clearly in the fact that despite his talents Hans-Ulrich Liechtenstein was reduced to earning a living as a blacksmith. He built a fire engine for the city. However, his financial situation worsened. Its great poverty undoubtedly reflects the state of watchmakers of this period, still darkened by the restrictive influence of all-powerful corporations.
All Hans-Ulrich Liechtenstein's efforts to honor his true profession were in vain, and he finally died at the age of 76, in complete poverty.

The story could end there, but his ardent son Tobias ends up imposing himself on the authorities thanks to the accuracy with which the clocks entrusted to him work. Little by little, it replaced by the pendulum, the primitive escapement known until then. But over the years, the difficulties continue to loom over the profession, and it is pure wonder that this family, with a stubbornness fueled by a true passion for the profession, still produces watchmakers.

In 1735, another Liechtenstein tried to convince the City Council again that it was time to buy a new fire pump - which he would make.
Yet nothing of his work as a blacksmith and locksmith appears in the delicate and refined execution of his clocks, of which a magnificent example, in the purest baroque style, is the last work of a Liechtenstein that has been preserved. After him, four more generations will stand out in watchmaking, but nothing remains of their work.

With Jacob-Ulrich Liechtenstein, who died in 1857, the last watchmaker of this exceptional family died out which, through his total dedication to his ancestral vocation even in the most difficult circumstances, gave for nearly four centuries a very great example of loyalty to the cause of fine watchmaking.


Alex Samuel

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