In 1862, brothers Christian and Georg Thiel founded a metal factory in Ruhla in the Thuringian Forest. They started with the production of pocket watches in 1892. The company has continued to expand and distinguished itself as one of the largest and most important watch manufacturers in Germany.
From 1908, production of ladies’ watches started. From the beginning, the emphasis was placed on economic manufacture of inexpensive quality products in large quantities. To reduce the vulnerability in times of crisis, the company started to produce tools for the watch industry and machine tools for tool manufacturing itself. In metal industry, new customers were easily found so that an independent factory was established. However, the watch manufacturing always remained the most important field of work with an extensive product range.
The expropriation of the Thiel Brothers in 1945 and the formation of a state-owned company as “VEB Uhrenwerke Ruhla” in 1952 were two significant events in the history of the company. After the German reunification in 1990, the company was split into several privatized and highly specialized companies of small and medium size. This includes the foundation of “Gardé Uhren und Feinmechanik Ruhla GmbH” in 1991. One of the main challenges for the newly founded company was the elimination of all distribution channels of the former company.
A completely new range of watches and precision instruments was developed. From 1993, the company worked particularly intensively on the development of a novel radio controlled watch. This watch was presented to the public for the first time in 1995 and has since been successful in international markets. The appreciation of Gardè’s radio controlled watch technology is especially reflected in the fact that it is present at Deutsches Museum in Munich in its permanent exhibition for time measurement technology.