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Peter Henlein

The "Nuremberg Egg"

A long time ago there was a master locksmith who slaved away in his workshop day in, day out. Rumours slowly started to spread through the back streets of Nuremberg that he was crazy. Many stared at his wife and pitied her. One Sunday she came home from St. Lorenz Church, burst into her husband’s workshop and asked him why he worked even on Sundays. He screamed at her, "I'll just never succeed at this, and now you nag at me the whole day!" With that, he left her crying in his workshop.

She saw the little locker in which her husband always kept his most secret work. It was open; he must have forgotten to lock it. She approached it and took out something very little. It was in the size of an egg and appeared to be a little heart. She was shocked because she could actually feel it beating in her hands! The devil must have made a pact with her husband. She threw the thing down onto his workbench in disgust and hit it with a hammer until it had shattered into a thousand tiny pieces.

When she turned round he was standing right there before her. She fell to her knees and begged for forgiveness. But, to her surprise, he thanked her! "Tonight I will start anew. And now I know I will succeed." He told her of his intentions and she understood. At this, she knelt down and prayed while her husband worked. By next morning he had finished. The citizens of Nuremberg were assembled at the city hall where the lord mayor proudly displayed this creation by Peter Henlein. There, inside a small glass case, was a minute, delicate ticking clock. It was so small that no one there could hardly believe it. The clock was proudly named the "Nuremberg Egg" – the world’s first pocket watch.

The minute clock by Peter Henlein (1485 - 1542) is known as the "Nuremberg Egg." A commemorative fountain from 1905 stands in "Hefnersplatz." In room no. 21 you´ll find the "Nuremberg Egg", interpreted by the artist Hans Karl Busch.