With its asymmetric dials and large date windows, the Pano Collection has become a beacon of Glashütte Original’s solid Saxon identity – the PanoMaticLunar and the PanoReserve are the best-known examples of this utterly Saxon sense of design and mechanics. First released in 2002, the PanoGraph stood out from the crowd with its novel chronograph totaliser that dispensed with the traditional layout of sub-counters and proved that not all chronographs have to be hard-core sports athletes. A triumph of aesthetics and mechanics, we revisit the PanoGraph today and discover how an iconic Pano can take a complication on board without sacrificing an iota of style.
When Glashütte Original was acquired by the Swatch Group in 2000, it needed to make a convincing mission statement. Fast on the heels of A. Lange & Söhne’s in-house flyback chronograph – the Datograph (just revisited in this Lumen version) – Glashütte Original wowed the stage with its PanoRetroGraph, a highly complex flyback chronograph complete with a 30-minute retrograde countdown counter equipped with a chime. Produced in a limited edition of 50 platinum watches, the PanoRetroGraph featured a unique 30-minute register for the chronograph functions and the asymmetric dial layout with large double date window that would become the hallmark features of the Pano family.
It was solid, bold and novel and was eventually toned down by removing the retrograde and chiming functions to become the PanoGraph, issued in a stainless steel version released in 2002 and retailing for a very competitive USD 15K. In 2012, the PanoGraph was gentrified, losing the thick bezel, the thick chapter rings on the time and sub-seconds dial and the somewhat incongruent dots on the minute totaliser. Increased in size from 39mm to 40mm, the bezel was revisited in a thinner, classier style and the elements on the dial spruced up all the while retaining the impressive mechanics of calibre 61. In that, it followed the same design evolution as the rest of the Pano collection, becoming more elegant overall.
The road less travelled by
Chronographs tend to feature busy dials with subsidiary counters – often highlighted in contrasting colours – which can detract from overall legibility. The layout of the sub-counters may differ, but very few chronographs have managed to dispense with the format of the sub-dial register – 2 or 3 of them uusually. In 2017, Fabergé surprised the watch world with its fabulous Visionnaire Chronograph, a revolutionary movement dreamed up by master watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and developed with his team at Agenhor. Wiederrecht’s extremely sophisticated chronograph calibre for the Visionnaire resulted in a hyper-intuitive centralised display for the elapsed seconds, hours and minutes – a movement later used in the Singer Reimagined Track 1.
It is interesting to see how Glashütte Original has tackled the chrono question within its Pano family. On the one hand, you have the strapping 44mm PanoMaticCounter XL, bristling with sub-counters and pushers that adulterates the look and feel of the Pano collection for a more modern, sporty attitude. On the other hand, you have the PanoGraph, a classy flyback that respects the integrity of its origins by providing a highly creative and elegant solution to display elapsed times.
A dial of unusual serenity
The overall effect of the PanoGraph dial is one of visual serenity and balance. Even though it is markedly asymmetrical, we are assured by the brand that the golden ratio was employed to create the harmonious effect, and there does seem to be a rightful place for every single element, with no sensation of constraint or confusion. Set against a silver galvanized matte background, the large off-centred hours and minutes counter, which is gracefully intersected by the running seconds, is placed on the left while the iconic Panoramic big date window (from which the collection obtains its name) retains its position to the right.
The level of detail on the dial is exceptional. Just look at the beautiful two-stepped bevelling on the date window and the textured snailing on the hours and seconds counters, or the plump rose gold hour markers like mini ingots and the refined way in which the minutes track intersects the running seconds counter – even thought I’m personally not a fan of the double G counterweight on the chrono seconds hand.
On the PanoMaticLunar and the PanoReserve, the space reserved for the complication (a moonphase or a power reserve indicator) is always on the right side of the dial – thus keeping the balance of the dial intact. On the Glashütte Original PanoGraph, arching gracefully on the upper right segment is the inventive 30-minute chronograph totaliser. Composed of three separate tracks – 0 to 10, 10 to 20 and 20 to 30 – the arched window features three separate rose gold pointers with a red tip, of different lengths depending on which track they indicate, which pop up to reveal the elapsed minutes. Watching the pointer pop out after the first minute is such a pleasure that you might find yourself activating the chrono just to see how the hands perform their firm decisive jumps.
Housed in a gleaming 40mm 18k red gold case with a height of 13.7mm, the case has a generous presence and a satisfying weight on the wrist – something many people want when investing in a gold watch. However, the redesigned bezel means that the case never upstages the serene vistas of the dial. The case finishes are exceptional and the bezel, lugs, crown and pushers are polished while the underside of the lugs and casebands are satin-brushed.
As a flyback chronograph that lets you stop, reset and start the chrono functions with one button – designed to record consecutive events without having to sacrifice valuable seconds – the PanoGraph has pushers located at 2 and 4 o’clock. The one thing that you will have to get used to is the fact that the pushers are reversed and the all-important flyback function is at 2 o’clock and the standard start-stop at 4 o’clock.
Turning over the watch provides another fascinating and completely unhindered spectacle of Glashütte Original’s in-house manual-winding column-wheel chronograph. A profusion of exceptional finishes, touches of colour, and intricately layered architecture, the movement is certainly amongst the nicest you can find on the market, especially in that price range.
Measuring 32.2mm with a height of 7.2mm, the movement displays characteristic Glashütte ribbing on the bridges, perlage on the three-quarter plate, screw-mounted gold chatons, bevelled edges, polished and satin-finished steel parts, blued screws, the classic swan-neck fine adjustment and hallmark engraved balance cock. Moving beyond the sumptuous finishes, the column-wheel chronograph is fitted with a switching wheel that operates the various chrono functions. Oscillating at 28,800vph (4Hz), the movement has an average power reserve of 42 hours. This movement has plenty of details and true depth – one of those micro-city movements we love here, at MONOCHROME.
This is one of our favourite Glashütte Original Pano models and probably one of the most beautiful watches in the brand’s portfolio. As you will recall, the Pano has been interpreted in various guises, including the hyper-elegant PanoReserve model, the dreamy PanoMatic Lunar and the more technical PanoMatic Inverse, but the PanoGraph takes the cake for its ingenious interpretation of the chronograph display that respects the elegant disposition of the Pano and looks perfectly at home on the dial. And for that, bravo to Glashütte Original!
Retailing for EUR 29,600, the PanoGraph is not what you would call an accessible watch, but if you are in the market for a solid gold in-house flyback chronograph that rows against the conventional layout, this might be the watch for you – not to mention the beauty of the hand-wound movement… Presented on black or dark brown alligator strap, you can choose either a red gold pin buckle or a red gold folding clasp. For more information, please visit www.glasshuette-original.com.