There has never been a point in time in which the Tempelhof Airport in Berlin was simply an “ordinary airport”, as its history was (and still is) simply too extraordinary. On the extensive field that once served as a parade ground for the military, the world’s former largest building was completed during the unrest of the Second World War, and after its end served as the hub of an unprecedented humanitarian aid operation.
Today, the airport is inseparably linked to the city of Berlin, prompting Askania to dedicate an entire collection of wristwatches to this Berlin landmark.
Already at the beginning of the 20th century, the huge area in the heart of Berlin was used by aviation pioneers for first air shows and airy experiments. Although it was subsequently intended to be used for the construction of a trade fair facility, the Berlin city administration ultimately decided in 1922 to use the field for commercial flights.
The plans resulted in a small airport, basically the precursor of Tempelhof Airport, with wooden halls and a usable area of only 1,000 square meters. A worldwide novelty, however, was the fact that the airport could already be reached by 1924 via its own underground station.
When the National Socialists seized power in 1933, plans for further expansion of the complex quickly followed. An adequately sized airport was needed, because only then Berlin was to become the world’s largest air hub (according to Hitler). In 1937, architect Ernst Sagebiel began building a monumental structure of unprecedented size, in keeping with the megalomania of the regime of the time, and conceived as part of the new world capital Germania. Strangely enough, the airport was not completed due to the escalating Second World War and was therefore never officially approved in accordance with building law.
Despite its dubious beginnings, the airport has made a huge turnaround in its importance just three years after the end of the war: From June 1948 to May 1949, the Tempelhof Airport served as the hub for the Berlin Blockade, as the USSR leadership had set up a blockade of all other transport routes, making it necessary to supply West Berlin from the air. At 90-second intervals, the “raisin bombers” landed in front of the airport’s hangars to unload food and raw materials.
On 30 October 2008, the airport was officially closed, but only to reopen two years later as one of the world’s largest local recreation areas. Today, the more than 300-hectare large “Tempelhofer Feld” is a popular park for Berliners and the place to go for skating, jogging, cycling or simply sunbathing,
Inspired by an original building plan of Tempelhof Airport, Askania has designed a series of watches that are stylistically based on the building complex. In particular, the dials with their hour markers take up the block-like arrangement of the Tempelhof buildings. In combination with the tachymeter scale, this creates a symbiosis of functionality and individuality that once characterized Berlin’s flagship airport.
Especially the colourful bracelets, which are made of salmon leather, deserve attention. They are manufactured from fish skins (from non-endangered species only). To achieve the flashy colours of these organic leather straps, products such as rhubarb roots or mimosa bark are used in the tanning process. The result is a bracelet that is as soft, elastic, light and robust as cow or calf leather, while protecting rare reptile species that are often bred solely for leather production. Askania thus once again underlines the importance that upcycling and sustainability have for the company.
The watches in the Tempelhof collection come on a leather, Milanese or stainless steel bracelet and start at 1,490 EUR.
For fans of German aviation and watch history, the Tempelhof watches from Askania could definitely be an interesting choice. More information about the brand and collection can be found directly on the manufacturer’s website here.