The Oldest Pocket Watch in the World? The Henlein Watch Dispute

December 4, 2014 – April 12, 2015

Is it or isn’t it – the world’s oldest surviving pocket watch, which has enabled people since 1510 to “take time with them” wherever they went. For centuries an argument has raged about whether it is the genuine article or a fake – and about the fame accorded this pioneering achievement, namely the pocket watch in the shape of a small drum bearing the signature of the Nuremberg precision instrument maker Peter Henlein. Other timepieces have been vying with the Henlein watch for this reputation; Henlein himself is sometimes romanticized as an artist engineer, sometimes debunked as an overestimated craftsman. 

The exhibition brings together the seven oldest surviving timepieces. It explains the clever technical tricks with the help of which Henlein and his contemporaries brought epoch-making improvements to timepiece technology. And it demonstrates clearly that even 500 years ago the watch as a status symbol was far more than just an everyday gadget.


A glimpse behind the scenes: The Henlein Watch Research Project

The Video on the research project


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