History of ZEISS in Wetzlar

  • How it all started

    How it all started

    For more than 150 years, Wetzlar has had a reputation as a center of optics and precision mechanics. This goes back to Moritz Hensoldt and Carl Kellner, pioneers in the field of modern optics. The roots of today’s Carl Zeiss Sports Optics GmbH in Wetzlar date back to the company of Moritz Hensoldt, which was founded in the middle of the 19th century. It was acquired by the Carl Zeiss foundation in 1928 and produces and sells optical and optronic devices as well as binoculars, riflescopes and spotting scopes.

  • 832 – 1864


    First mention in the Lorsch Codex.


    Wetzlar becomes an imperial city.


    Wetzlar becomes the seat of the Imperial High Court, the highest court of the Holy Roman Empire in Germany; a century of economic growth ensues.

  • 1865 – 1907
    With kind permission: www.musoptin.com (Dr. Timo Mappes)


    The company Engelbert & Hensoldt relocates to Wetzlar. It was founded in Sonneberg, Thuringia, in 1852, moving to Braunfels in 1861.


    Besides working for Engelbert & Hensoldt, Moritz Hensoldt runs his own company.&


    Thanks to positive business developments, the existing space quickly becomes insufficient: Hensoldt acquires a workshop on Sophienstrasse and erects a factory one year later.


    The company becomes a general partnership (OHG), operating under the name M. Hensoldt & Söhne.&


    Construction of new buildings on Sophienstrasse.

  • 1908 – 1945


    Due to the growing product range, the buildings on Sophienstrasse are too small: Construction of a factory on Gloëlstrasse begins, which is ready to be occupied one year later.

    With kind permission by: www.aktiensammler.de


    The OHG is converted to an AG (stock company).

    Unemployment line, 1932 (with kind permission of the Ballhause Archive).


    During the worldwide depression, the company plunges into a crisis. The Carl Zeiss Foundation becomes the majority shareholder.

  • 1946 – 1989


    All field glasses of Carl Zeiss Oberkochen are manufactured in Wetzlar.

  • 1990 – today


    Renamed Carl Zeiss Sports Optics.