By Fuad Rajeh
SANAA, May 19 (Saba)--Germany, the EU's largest member and maker of large machine-made industries including iconic BMW and Mercedez cars, is home to many handmade manufactores standing for "the luxurious part of its perfection".
In April, the German foreign office, through the handmade-in-Germany initiative, organized a week-long program for international journalists which included visits to handmade manufactures in Munich, Waldsassen, Dresden and Berlin
such as Roeckl which produces gloves and accessories, Da Vinci which produces all kinds of brushes, Lamberts which produces sheet glass, Faber-Castell of pencils, Moritz Grossmann of wristwatches, C. Bechstein the pianos maker, Konigliche Porzellan Manufactur KPM of porcelain and Burmester of Audiosystems.
Michael T. Schroder, the chairman of the initiative, said there are around 250 handmade factories in Germany. "These factories produce nearly everything brushes, pens, cars, watches, glass, porcelain, gloves, pianos and audiosystems etc," he said. Only 14 from the 250 factories joined the initiative so far, he added.
Hearing about a handmade product is not like when you go to the manufacture where it is made and watch closly craftsmen working on all details of the product from processing raw materials to producing a masterpiece ready for use; just like a piano from C.Bechstein, a wristwatch from Moritz Grossmann, a pencil from Faber-Castell, an intelligent glove from Roeckl or a €1000 cup from KPM.
You may ask whether German handmade factories use machines or their products are only made by hands of craftsmen. As a matter of fact, there are machines at every factory but almost all machines are traditional ones that need hands of craftsmen to operate precisely. Mostly, machines process raw materials, while almost in all stages of making products, hands of masters handle everything.
And that's why these manufactures dont make a lot of products a year. "Our products are crafted by hands. We make luxury and this means that we do not immerse markets with a lot of products," said Leonardo Duricic, the technical manager at C. Bechstein, the maker of pianos. C. Bechstein produces around 4700 ground and upright pianos a year, he said, adding that the prices start at €11000 and reach up €130.000 for one piano.
It is very interesting to see craftsmen assembling and adjusting scores of parts of a watch including gold and platinum parts, a work that requires experience and profound dedication through eyes and hands.The Benu Platinum Edition by Moritz Grossmann was made of 188 parts. Expert hands assembled, adjusted, annealled, polished and inspected modules, pallet lever, case, hands, balance cock blank, screw heads and other parts, and the finishing touches of the 188 parts were manually applied. Only 25 watches of this type were produced and distributed worldwide.
It takes weeks to produce a wristwatch and, because of that, our factory produces around 100 watches a year, according to Christine Hutter, the owner and CEO of Moritz Grossmann in Dresden. The prices of Moritz Grossmann watches start at €7500 and reach more than €80.000 for one watch; the most special designs are slod for much more than €100.000 per watch, Hutter said.
At the Lamberts, the world's largest mouth-blown sheet glass factory, hardworking craftsmen start work at 8:00 am after glass is heated by more than 1000-degree -heat furnaces all the night. They take glass from furnaces, blow it by mouths outside the ovens, reheat it and then shape it in cylinder glass that is finally made flat inside traditional machines. They produce around 370 medium-and-large-sized glass sheets a day, 80% of which are exported, said Reiner Meindl, the Lamberts' CEO.
Some handmade manufactores date back to the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries such as Roeckl, Faber Castle, KPM and Lamberts. This means they have experienced big problems over their history including World War II, but continued to exist with those destroyed rebuilt after the war. However, they have never been affected by financial crises like the one in 2009. We have our special consumers, and because we produce small quantities, we have been kept away from crises, said owners of factories.
Markets for products of German handmade manufactures are mainly based in Europe, the Americas, Russia, Asia-Pacific and Australia. Turnover is not much and the employees are not many. The 14 members within the handmade-in-Germany initiative are employing around 530 people with a turnover of around €600 million in general a year, said Shroder. Faber-Castell, the pencil maker, is employing around 7500 people, 1100 in Germany.
During travel between cities and tours to manufactores, a visitor of Germany has nothing to think about except the harmony between the attractive nature which looks like a green carpet covering the whole land and human creativity nd greatness in this EU country. It is all about perfection.