Last week I visited Glashütte Original in their hometown. In the previous article we talked about how the watch industry and fine-mechanical engineering brought the people of the Saxon valley back from poverty to world-wide recognition. In this one, I’d like to show you a few personal favourites.
In the era of increasing competition and the overwhelming range of products, brands are keen to find and emphasise their own unique image. Some go edgy with mechanical hi-tech, others take design to new roads – at Glashütte Original elegance has always been the starting point when imagining a timepiece. Even their chronographs, which at many manufactures take a manly and sporty direction, would not seem harsh when going to a theatre (probably the sportiest I’ve seen so far was the Senator Chronograph Panorama Date Steel and Black edition this spring).
If you have ever been to Saxony, you will probably not wonder for long why elegance comes naturally to watchmakers here. The first high-quality porcelain outside Asia has been produced in Meissen since 1710; baroque had stronghold in the region with breathtaking palaces such as the Zwinger and Pillnitz in Dresden or the Moritzburg castle about 15km north; and not least composers such as Bach, Mendelsshon, Wagner, Robert and Carla Schuman created musical masterpieces in the state (mainly in Leipzig).
Beyond getting to know their broader world, I had the chance to play with Glashütte Original’s vintage and contemporary timepieces that bear the marks of this land. Let me now show you a few personal favourites.
In the previous article we talked about how the watch industry and fine-mechanical engineering brought the people of the valley back from poverty to world-wide recognition. In the past 160+ years many watches were created here that stand out from either a design or technical perspective. Today, Glashütte Original has a dedicated line called the Vintage, including models that are directly inspired by these exceptional pieces.
The 1960’s was a decade of change on many fronts (political, social, cultural and aesthetics) all around the world. Many iconic designs which keep coming back today, were born back then. Lately, we can observe the great revival of the mid-century modern style in interior and furniture design or fashion. The award-winning series Mad Men (with seven seasons from 2007-2015) certainly had a great influence on it.
In the 1960s, GUB (the VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe conglomerate melting the individual Glashütte companies into one in 1951) came out with the new Calibre Group 70. The aim was to build a base movement that can be produced in series with manual as well as automatic winding, and which can be certified as a chronometer for export sales (mainly to West Germany). A particular watch with the GUB 70.1 movement was the direct predecessor of the Vintage Sixties models available today. It has three functional versions: the simple time-only with the company’s 39-52 movement, the Panorama Date with the calibre 39-47 and the Chronograph with the calibre 39-34. All automatic 42mm timepieces came in steel and gold (except the Chronograph which only has steel versions).
Design-wise it didn’t change much from the original, but has slightly more modern lines and materials. In the Panorama Date model they combined it with a recent Glashütte design element, the large date window, which sits very naturally on the dial. I love the pebble-like shape borrowed from the domed sapphire crystal. The time-only version is 39mm, the date and the chronograph are 42mm.
In 2016, the manufacture made awesome retro coloured versions in a limited edition and earlier this year the Sixties Iconic Square Collection.
The first time I saw the PanoMatic Luna with blue mother-of-pearl dial was a year ago, when Glashütte Original opened their boutique in Vienna. With its delicacy and serious interior this timepiece sets the bar high for ladies’ watches. Although she and I have already met several times, we were happy to reunite and spend the rest of the evening together at the dinner in the 23m high atrium of Glashütte.
Another ladies’ model is rather typical, but from the best of its breed: good balances, reliable automatic in-house movement and clean design with a comfortable 36mm diameter. It is a watch, that a woman is happy to receive from her mother and pass on to a daughter or niece. The Glashütte Lady Serenade is on the shelves in multiple colours, dial versions and finishing options.
My first choice was a light mint green model in stainless steel and with a mother-of-pearl dial. For the best match, the dial artists in the Pforzheim workshop were picky to find a shell colour which is iridescent with a greyish-greenish haze. The Roman numerals are appliqués and the indexes are little diamonds. The movement has date function displayed at 6 o’clock on the dial.
The rose gold and galvanized black combination came second. It is Glashütte Original’s equivalent of the “little black dress” or a black tuxedo: simple and dresses up for any occasion. Although the diamonds remained queuing up on the bezel, the index gemstones were exchanged for gold notches appliqués.
Senator Tourbillon – limited edition
The flying tourbillion is a special organ in Glashütte as it was invented in the city by Adolf Helwig, the teacher of the watchmaking school between 1913 and 1944. In 2013, GO presented the Senator Tourbillion model with the same regulator at 6 o’clock, emphasised by the modest varnished grey-grained dial surface. The movement is the automatic 3Hz Calibre 94-03.
Just recently, the manufacture presented a 25 piece limited edition in white gold with a white grained dial, a piece of which we could hold in our hands at the workshop. The unit number is painted on the 1st index.
The Senator line is probably the most classic collection of the brand and this piece showcases the essence of watchmaking at Glashütte Original: long Roman numerals, big Panorama Date aperture, the flying tourbillon of course, the slim poiré hour and minute pointers and the three-quarter plate with a stripe finish at the back.
Photo credits: Loupiosity.com.
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