Manufactured first by the Hommel Company in Mannheim, Germany, until the early 1970s and then, production levels having fallen to uneconomic levels, by "Hommel-Hercules" and Walter Foerster. The design, almost certainly dating from the 1930s, was by Hans Luce, then working at the Rheinmetall-Borsig company in Sömmerda. This original machine was adapted by the Swiss Meyer & Burger Company and marketed by them, through Astobe A. Stoeckle, as the Astoba and also built in East Germany under communist control as a version of the "Unispan". During WW2, Luce was employed at the German Rheinmetall-Werke (tanks & guns) factory and then in the immediate post-war period, struck out on his own with an engineering office in southern Germany. Here, he developed a sales and manufacturing contract with the Hommel company, an organisation he may previously have come across during his war-time work, Hommel having strong connections with the German military. Indeed, many of the later and larger UWG 2 machines came originally from the country's air force, the comprehensively-equipped and very lightly-used example below having being purchased at auction upon the closing of the German Air Force (NATO) base at Happy Valley-Goose Bay in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
In German vernacular the machine was an "Eierlegende Wollmilchsäue" or, literally translated, "egg-laying wool-milk-pig" - a machine that could do everything. From its appearance it would appear to have been designed as the sort of "lathe" that might have found a ready home in a boat, mobile maintenance unit or the cramped workshop of a self-employed instrument or clock maker. Even today, a journey to remote seas in a small craft would be made much safer if a Hommel, together with a suitable supply of materials, was on board. The total number of machines made is not known; however, one manufactured in 1952 was stamped 650 and, should that represents a production number, would indicate yearly volumes at a relatively low level; if any reader with a knowledge of the company's background can provide further information, a set of detailed photographs, or copies of the manufacture's literature, the writer would be very pleased to hear from you.
Two models were made, the UWG1 and the much larger UWG2 shown below, a model readily identifiable by the 6 slots cut into the front face of its base plate; for a comparison, see the table at the bottom of this page. All but a few of the many accessories are transferable between the machines, so easing the problem of finding these desirable and expensive items.
More information of these machines in on the Hommel Home Page
The Canadian owner of the Hommel shown below is keen to contact fellow owners - and also seeks Hommel accessories for sale..