Prix Gaïa 2018 – Reinhard Meis. History-Research category
The Jury for the Gaïa Prize is paying tribute to Reinhard Meis in recognition of the key contribution he has made to our understanding of the technical history of watchmaking, thanks to his exhaustive independent research, and for the excellence of his publications in the field of complicated watches.
Reinhard Meis was born in 1940 into a family of watchmakers, in Koppelow in northern Germany. He completed his apprenticeship as a watchmaker in Minden and Eutin and trained at the School of Watchmaking in Altona, Hamburg. He then began his career as a watchmaker in Eutin and Husum. At the age of 27, he specialised in precision mechanics in Schwenningen, before working with Siemens and Telefunken. From 1973 to 1991, Reinhard Meis was technical assistant to Prof. Bömmel and Prof. Dransfeld in the Faculty of Physics at the University of Konstanz, specialising in the field of solid-state physics. At the same time, he wrote the reference works Die alte Uhr, Taschenuhren, IWC-Uhren, Das Tourbillon", and Arm- banduhren Chronographen – which were translated into several languages – in addition to around sixty journal articles.
In 1991, Reinhard Meis became technical adviser and movement designer at Lange Uhren. He was the man behind the first collections from Lange & Söhne under the directorship of Günter Blümlein. He helped to create exhibitions for the brands Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC and Lange & Söhne in the Les Manufactures Horlogères (LMH) group. At the same time, he invested his leisure time pursuing his activities as a researcher and author, notably publishing the books A. Lange & Söhne: eine Uhr- macherdynastie aus Dresden (1997) and A. Lange & Söhne, feine Uhren aus Sachsen. In 2004, he returned to the Richemont Movement Centre in Neuchâtel as engineering director for prod- uct design and fine watchmaking and as a consultant for the group's brands. Reinhard Meis has been enjoying his retirement since 2011, dedicating his time to his passion for writing.
– Alte Uhren und Spieluhren. Aus Privatsammlungen und Beständen des Rosgartenmuseums. Gesellschaft der Freunde des Rosgartenmuseums, Konstanz 1976.
– Die alte Uhr. Geschichte, Technik, Stil. Ein Handbuch für Sammler und Liebhaber, 2 Bände. Klinkhardt & Biermann, Braunschweig 1978.
– Taschenuhren. Von der Halsuhr zum Tourbillon. Callwey, München 1979.
– IWC-Uhren. Die „Schaffhauser“ und ihre Geschichte. Carinthia, Klagenfurt 1985.
– Das Tourbillon. Faszination der Uhrentechnik. Laterna magica, München u. a. 1986.
– Chronographen, Armbanduhren : die Zeit zum Anhalten, Callwey, München 1992.
– A. Lange & Söhne. Eine Uhrmacherdynastie aus Dresden. Callwey, München 1997.
– Montblanc : écrire le temps, Flammarion, Paris 2010.