During Time To Move 2019, Swatch Group’s own event to present the new collections, Glashütte Original presented several watches totally in line with its usual conception of watchmaking, such as the facelifted Senator Chronometer or an engraved PanoInverse. Yet, the star of the show, the watch that the Saxon brand presented first, the main novelty for 2019… is a watch none of us actually expected from the brand; a dive watch collection named SeaQ. Following our first look right after its presentation, it is time now to have a closer look at the modern SeaQ Panorama Date, to see if this Saxon dive watch is convincing (or not).
We were not expecting GO on the dive watch market… But (spoiler) the result is quite convincing!
The Glashütte Original SeaQ marks the debut of multiple things for the brand. Not only is this a new watch segment, with multiple references introduced, in various colours, sizes and complications, but SeaQ is the first member of a new collection, the so-called Spezialist line… So, in short, that could mean that we can expect more of these instrument-inspired watches in the coming years. Now you know!
For the past 10 years, Glashütte Original has streamlined its collections, removing multiple references and sticking to just four main lines; the classic Senator watches, the technical Pano with off-centred dials, the more original vintage (Sixties & Seventies) and ladies’ watches. While doing that, the brand cleaned out older collections, which included some sportier pieces, such as the pilot’s watches – somehow a German tradition – or the Sport Evolution collection. So indeed, there were more robust steel watches at Glashütte Original back then, but never such tool-like, instrument-inspired pieces.
Now, let’s be honest, when we received the news for the new Glashütte Original SeaQ collection, it came as a surprise. No debate. This type of robust dive watch is clearly not what we expected from GO. However, there are multiple reasons for the introduction of this new collection.
First, SeaQ hasn’t surfaced out of the blue, even though it means diving deeper into the brand’s history (pun intended) and some more underground collections. Remember that, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the brand was under the control of the GDR and named Glashütte Uhrenbetrieb, the production was focused on utilitarian and accessible watches, and not high-end horology, as is the case today. This gave us some classic, dressy pieces but also several sports watches, such as the 1969 “Spezimatic Type RP TS 200”, developed specifically for recreational diving (something hyped back in the days)… and that very watch is the inspiration behind the new SeaQ collection – the filiation is not hard to detect.
And here comes the SeaQ Panorama Date
As mentioned, there’s a second reason behind the creation of the SeaQ collection, which has to do with strategic decisions. In the past, there were brands for dress watches and brands for tool watches – the main difference between these two markets being prices and movements, as the “tool watch brands” were mostly relying on outsourced movements. Now, things have changed as have expectations from customers. The sports watch is no longer strictly related to instrument purposes and this means that clients have the wish for high-end sports pieces. Most brands have entered this market, even A. Lange & Söhne did, with the Odysseus watch.
Glashütte Original does things differently, though. While most brands play on the 1970s luxury sports watch concept, GO already had such a piece in collection; the Seventies. So, to add something truly sports-oriented, the decision was made to enter the dive watch market, another ultra-popular segment. This resulted in two main watches, one being the vintage-inspired 39.5mm SeaQ, the other being the present watch, the more modern, more high-end but no less fully spec-ed SeaQ Panorama Date.
Modern conception, vintage taste
While the smaller version of this watch doesn’t hide its inspiration, the larger SeaQ Panorama Date tends to play on the evocation of the past but in a modern package. Certainly, the dial’s layout and the overall shape of the case echo the old Spezimatic, but as for the rest, this watch is a contemporary take on the dive watch.
The case of this SeaQ Panorama Date retains the typical late-1960s/early-1970s design of the Spezimatic, with lugs that are integrated into the casebands, sharps angles and circular brushed surfaces – design clues that were rather popular back then. The finishing is very pleasant, with nicely executed brushed surfaces and polished bevels on the sides. The case of this version, made of stainless steel, is topped by a uni-directional rotating bezel, with a ceramic insert and 60-minute diving scale. All classic elements.
The case measures a robust 43.2mm diameter and 15.65mm in height. On paper, this sounds like a massive watch – and in your hand, it has a clear feeling of robustness and weight. However, the watch is far more compact on the wrist and actually well balanced. Thanks to the typical 1970s integrated lugs, the case is not too long and hugs the wrist. So although you must not expect this watch to be small, at least it is a large watch that wears comfortably.
The SeaQ Panorama Date is water-resistant to 300m, features sapphire crystals front and caseback and a screw-down crown, which is slightly protected by a discreet crown-guard device. Nice design, classic specifications, very serious execution.
Dial and functions
Most of the old Spezimatic inspiration can be seen on the dial of this new collection. While the smaller model plays again on pure vintage clues, this more modern, higher-end and larger SeaQ Panorama Date evokes the past in a more discreet way. The 1969 model is easily recognizable thanks to its combination of oversized Arabic numerals for even number and baton markers for odd numbers, combined with equally oversized hands – and a maxi-arrow hand for the minutes.
This original layout was the base for the new SeaQ Panorama Date, which relies again on the same combination of Arabic numerals and baton markers, as well as the same style for the hands. All these elements are oversized, creating a maxi-dial feeling, but on the contrary of the smaller SeaQ, this Panorama Date model has applied and framed markers to give a more luxurious and more contemporary appeal to this watch. All of these elements are generously filled with Super-LumiNova. No need to say, legibility is superb in all conditions, thanks to a great contrast with the dial, the reflections of the polished metal or the intense luminescence at night.
Regarding the design itself, these oversized elements could potentially feel overdone to some – at least, this was my reaction when I first saw the watch. However, after seeing it multiple times now, I have to admit that first, these look quite good and, second, these markers and hands give a unique identity to the watch – not easy in a market as crowded as the dive watch market.
Back to the dial itself, the SeaQ Panorama Date is available in two colours, one being a classic black and the other, the present deep blue version. Both models have a galvanized, sunray brushed surface that adds to the modernity of the watch. The dials are domed, just like the sapphire crystal on top, resulting in distortions on the periphery – and that is, to me, far from a negative aspect, as it brings life to the watch. As always with Glashütte Original, the execution of the dial is impressive.
As indicated by its name, this SeaQ is equipped with the brand’s signature complication, the Panorama date, which basically is a large date on two non-overlapping discs. Is it necessary in such a context? Not really, but at least it looks much better proportioned than a tiny date window at 6 or 3 o’clock.
Powering the Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date is the brand’s modern automatic movement, the Calibre 36. This movement was introduced along with the Senator Excellence collection and will become the new standard automatic for GO.
This calibre 36 runs at 4Hz and features a silicon balance spring (anti-magnetic, less affected by temperature…), which was a first for the brand. Its power reserve is a comfortable 100 hours (approx. 4 days), via a single barrel (and a long mainspring of 68cm, developed by Nivarox). The barrel is wound by a heavy and large rotor, with a 21k gold peripheral mass. The overall finish is very pleasant and respectful of the German production: Glashutte rubbings on the ¾ plate, polished chamfers, skeletonized rotor with the Double G, blued screws, visible wheels… And this movement is large (32.3mm) and sized accordingly to the case, making it pleasant when viewed from the sapphire caseback.
First, let’s talk about movement testing. As all watches with calibre 36, the SeaQ Panorama Date is controlled and adjusted in six positions and to different temperatures, at four stages of the power reserve, and for both the precision, the amplitude and the length of the power reserve. This testing procedure is done internally. The watches are delivered with a certificate attesting of the results.
But… The SeaQ Panorama Date is, first and foremost, a dive watch. As you might know, the concept of a dive watch is subject to objective criteria – all brands use the terms dive watch but, in fact, few could actually be named dive watches. But this a watch from Glashütte and Germans don’t muck around with procedures.
To ensure maximum reliability, every single watch is tested and analysed in-house for conformance with DIN 8306 and ISO 6425 standards – the two norms defining dive watches. Included in the testing procedure are the following steps:
- Moisture in the watch – the watch is first heated for 30 minutes to 40-45°C and then covered with a cold wet piece of felt. If there is any moisture in the watch, it would appear at this point as condensed water on the inside surface of the glass.
- Resistance at under and overpressure – To start with, the SeaQ is exposed to an underpressure of -0.2 bar. This simulates the use of the watch at high altitudes (in the mountains or in an airplane). The watch is then exposed to an overpressure (as at great depths underwater) of 125%. This corresponds with 30-bar or 300m watches to a value of 37.5 bar or 375m.
- Water-resistance test and external drying – The watch is exposed in distilled water to an overpressure of 125% (37.5 bar in the present case), which is maintained for a certain period of time. In a second phase, the pressure is then lowered to a slight overpressure of 0.3 bar. Following the water-resistance test in a water bath, the outside of the SeaQ is dried by rotating the watch under a curtain of air. This ensures that no moisture remains on the watch.
- Moisture in the watch after testing – Once again heated for 30 minutes to 40-45°C. Afterwards, a wet piece of felt is once more placed for one minute upon the upper surface of the glass.
The SeaQ Panorama Date can be delivered on multiple straps and bracelets. You can go for a casual-looking grey water-resistant nylon mesh strap – to us, the coolest option – or a classic black rubber strap. Both can be equipped with a steel pin buckle or a steel folding clasp.
The other option offered by Glashütte Original is a 3-link, brushed and polished, stainless steel bracelet. It is equipped with a practical fine adjustment mechanism, allowing to extend the length of the bracelet by pressing the Double-G logo on the clasp – with eight small steps.
As we said right from the beginning, this SeaQ was rather unexpected, as GO isn’t a brand with a long history in the dive watch market… So how has the brand fared? Pretty well, in fact. All in all, the SeaQ Panorama Date is a convincing luxury dive watch, which can perform in most wet environments. Is this its real vocation? Probably not, as most future owners will probably wear it as a desk diver. But it CAN perform if you want to use it the proper way.
Design-wise, knowing this “desk diver vocation”, the choice for a large diameter, a Panorama Date function and a higher-end dial make sense. Consider this watch an equal to a modern Fifty Fathoms, a watch with the looks and feel of a diver but made for civilian purposes. A good point is that GO found a way to give this watch its own identity. And of course, the execution of the case, the dial and the movement are like all GO watches, precise and very clean. Now, be aware that this version is rather hefty and requires a relatively large wrist. For those of you with smaller wrists, you’ll be happy to learn that a 39.5mm version also exists.
price and availability
The Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date is now available at boutiques and retailers (November 2019) and will be priced at EUR 11,000 on rubber or synthetic straps with a pin buckle, EUR 11,300 on rubber or synthetic strap with folding clasp and EUR 12,200 on steel bracelet.
More details at www.glashuette-original.com.