Erwin Sattler X Deutsches Museum

03rd of October 2022

The Deutsches Museum is a scientific authority far beyond the borders of Munich and Bavaria. With its four branches, the library, the archives and its own research institute, it is one of the largest science and technology museums in the world, purely in terms of the size of its exhibition space!

In Munich alone, 25,000 exhibits in 53 subject areas are currently presented to the interested public. The subject areas range from natural sciences like chemistry, to time measurement – and here the circle closes.

For many years now, the seconds precision pendulum clock “Secunda Accurata 1958” has been an integral part of the permanent exhibition on time measurement technology.

We asked Thomas Rebényi, master clockmaker and head of the restoration workshop for scientific instruments and clocks at the Deutsches Museum, about the Erwin Sattler clock on display and the subject of clocks at the Deutsches Museum:

SINCE WHEN DOES THE ERWIN SATTLER CLOCK DECORATE THE ROOMS OF THE DEUTSCHES MUSEUM?

It is the Erwin Sattler precision pendulum clock model 1958, N°17, date of receipt: 27.5.1998 with the inventory number. 1998-224. It was added to the Deutsches Museum’s inventory of exhibits 24 years ago and has been on display in the timekeeping exhibition without interruption ever since.

WHY IS THE CLOCK AND ITS MOVEMENT RELEVANT FOR THE DEUTSCHES MUSEUM?

The clock is equipped with an escapement, which was not represented in the collection until then.

It is the so-called Strasser escapement, (free spring escapement according to Ludwig Strasser).

In addition, the clock shows that the construction of precision pendulum clocks did not end despite the presence of atomic and radio-controlled clocks.

They combine proven functional principles with modern materials and manufacturing methods.

Only with mechanical clocks you can observe and understand with your own eyes how the time displayed on the dial is created in the mechanism.

Deutsches Museum
Secunda Accurata Deutsches Museum
Strasserhemmung
DO YOU SEE THE ERWIN SATTLER MANUFACTURE AS THE HEIR TO THE GREAT PRECISION CLOCKMAKERS OF DAYS GONE BY?

The task, i.e. the purpose of precision pendulum clocks is of course completely different today. No research institutes and observatories are equipped with the clocks, but living and show rooms.

Nevertheless, it is my knowledge that only the Erwin Sattler company produces precision pendulum clocks in series of the highest quality and accuracy with modern machines and is able to distribute worldwideA serial production of highest quality cannot be compared with the production of single precision pendulum clocks or small series.

From that perspective, I would say that this current production run represents a continuation of the tradition of classic precision pendulum clock building.

Moreover, without leaving the handicraft basis, the precision pendulum clock construction has been constantly developed by the designers and employees of the Sattler company by using new ideas, materials and techniques.

HOW DID YOU GET THE POSITION AS HEAD OF THE RESTORATION WORKSHOP FOR SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS & CLOCKS?

The work here at the museum came about when the production of movements at the Sattler company was largely completed in its development and I wanted to move into a new field. The whole range that I have here in the Deutsches Museum, to work on different instruments and originals that you can otherwise only see in books, was of course an incentive that I could not resist.

WHAT EXACTLY DOES YOUR DAILY BUSINESS LOOK LIKE?

Varied and colorful.

I have done maintenance work, repair work, from tower clocks to land surveying instruments – a variety hardly describable. (A tour, if possible, is highly recommended).

WHAT PERSONALLY DO YOU FIND FASCINATING ABOUT CLOCKS?

The art of using knowledge and calculations, constructive and manual skills, and patience to create a mechanical automaton that is as free of friction and wear as possible. It permanently shows us the course of our most important and actually only possession, our time, and reminds us to use it consciously and not to let it slip away thoughtlessly.

In clockmaking, there is no upper limit to creativity, only a limit to the targeted manufacturing times.

FROM WHICH CENTURY IS THE OLDEST CLOCK EXHIBITED IN THE DEUTSCHES MUSEUM?

From the 16th century, it is the tower clock of Bamberg Cathedral from 1562, (Exhibited in the Diezösanmuseum Bamberg).

Then we also have a box clock with sundial from 1565 and a console clock with four-quarter striking movement, calendar and astronomical indications from 1592.

Unfortunately, the exhibition is closed at the moment due to reconstruction works.

We would like to thank Mr. Thomas Rebényi and the Deutsches Museum München for the interview and the time spent with us.

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