For decades, experts have been disagreeing about whether the famous “Henlein pocket watch” in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg (GNM) really is the oldest preserved portable watch in the history of technology. Other small-scale watches from the early 16th century also stake claim to this title or are – like the Henlein pocket watch – suspected forgeries. In total, around five watches are under discussion here.

The technological recording and interpretation of objects from the history of art and culture is gaining in importance and is increasingly leading to the use of scientific methods in the examination of art and cultural assets. Particular interest is generated by imaging methods that provide information on the outer and inner structure of the objects. UV, IR laser scanning and irradiation methods are traditionally used in the analyses. More recently, attempts have been made to increasingly supplement these two-dimensional methods with three-dimensional documentation methods, because these enable complex structures to be recorded far more clearly and represented in a more readable manner. Historical technological research is supported here by 3D micro computer tomography, which can produce high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the objects and their inner life, even those made of metal. The computer tomography measurements are being carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute Development Center for X-ray Technology in Fürth. The project run by GNM in cooperation with the Fraunhofer-Institut Integrierte Schaltungen (IIS) Entwicklungszentrum Röntgentechnik (EZRT) and Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm began in March 2013 and ended in December 2014.