Jacob Auch – Biography, History and Inventions

Jacob Auch

The German Jacob (also Jakob) Auch was a very good mechanic and clock-maker, interesting for us with his remarkable calculating machine

Jacob Auch was born on 22 February, 1765, in Echterdingen (near Stuttgart, Württemberg), to Johann Andreas Auch (1733–1787), a baker, and Christina Henn (1736–1782). Jacob had a younger brother, Johann Georg (02.07.1766-24.08.1838), who also became clockmaker and mechanician.

In the same town, Echterdingen, from 1781 till 1790 served Philipp Matthäus Hahn. The young Jacob was an apprentice of Hahn and used to work in his workshop in Echterdingen. Later Jacob Auch proved himself as one of the most talented apprentices of Hahn.

On 11 July, 1787, in Vaihingen an der Enz, Auch married to 22 y.o. Eva Regina Wintermantel, a daughter of Johann Christoph and Anna Maria Wintermantel and in the same year he opened his own workshop in Vaihingen. They had one son, Johann Jacob Auch (1789-1885). Auch stayed for more then 10 years in Vaihingen, and during this period he fulfilled many orders of the professor of mathematics and physics from Institute of Physics in Karlsruhe Johann Lorenz Böckmann.

Franz Xaver von ZachAuch stayed in Vaihingen until 1798, when he was hired as a ducal court mechanic (Großherzoglichen Hofmechanicus) at the Weimar court, a presiguos position, which he hold until his death in 1842. As court mechanic for the Duke of Weimar he worked mainly for the new Seeberg Observatory from 1798 on. The renowned astronomer Baron Franz Xaver von Zach (see the nearby image) headed the observatory until 1806 and was one of Jacob Auch’s most important customers. Auch supplied numerous watches and instruments for the observatory, which was at the time the most modern in Europe.

Auch is well known as the author of two books for watchmaking—Taschenbuch für Uhrenbesitzer (Weimar, 1806) and Handbuch für Landuhrmacher (Weimar, 1827). The latter was published first time in 1827 and reprinted many times during the next century (it can be found in Google Books, see the book of Auch).

Besides his calculating machine, Auch is known as a maker of many clocks and chronometers, besides the instruments for the Seeberg Observatory (including a telescope for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe). Auch also created important astronomer’s pocket watches in the style of his master Philipp Hahn, with dials on both sides; they showed the traditional watch face on one side and planetaria on the other. To the present day survived a very good double-dial astronomical watch, made by Auch (see the lower photo):

An astronomical watch, made by Jacob Auch

The double-dial astronomical watch, made by Jacob Auch

Jacob Auch died on 20 March, 1842, in Weimar. He was inherited by his son, Johann Jacob Auch (1789-1885), who started from 1821 in his Weimar workshop, and began to build mainly tower clocks according to a completely new functional principle.


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