The Senator Chronometer Regulator made its debut in 2013 but can trace its layout all the way back to the 1870s when the tiny Saxon town of Glashütte was an important purveyor of precision chronometers and other timekeeping instruments like regulator clocks. Let’s take a closer look at the Senator Chronometer Regulator in red gold and see how a historic precision regulator display can add a refreshing twist to a classic Senator.
Marine Chronometers and Regulators
Glashütte, the cradle of Germany’s watchmaking industry, is proud of its history, and rightly so. As a thriving centre of production following Ferdinand Lange’s establishment of a watch factory in 1845, the town welcomed watchmakers to establish itself as a true production hub. Two specialities to emerge from the workshops of Glashütte were marine chronometers and regulator clocks. We recently reviewed the Senator Chronometer and its evocation of historic marine chronometers. However, for a chronometer to provide accurate time at sea, it needed to be fine-tuned and adjusted and this is where regulator clocks step in.
Basically, regulators were hyper-precise clocks used to adjust other mechanical clocks. Regulator clocks, also known as pendulum clocks, were developed in England in the 1700s. Driven by weights with a deadbeat escapement, the unprecedented accuracy of regulator clocks over other clocks converted them into master-clocks, used in observatories and clock shops to consult the time to the exact minute and second. The distinctive feature of regulators was the separation of minutes, hours and seconds. The minutes became the true protagonists of the dial read with a large sweep hand, while the hours and seconds were usually relegated to smaller sub-dials. This was possible because the three hands were not co-axial.
By the 1870s regulator clocks, used by observatories and for the regulation of pocket watches and marine chronometers, were being produced in the town of Glashütte. Pendulum clocks made by Ludwig Strasser and Gustav Rohde were particularly appreciated and used in institutes, observatories and neighbouring watch companies to synchronise pocket watches and marine chronometers. More details here.
Are regulators becoming regular fare?
The somewhat unconventional layout of this handsome Senator model is a tribute to the tradition of historic regulator clocks, and in keeping with the ultra-precise nature of regulators, it is, natürlich, an official certified chronometer.
I know I used the word ‘unconventional’ to describe the display, but I might have to take it back because there are more and more regulator displays on the market from more and more brands. Remember Patek Philippe’s Annual Calendar Regulator? Or Chronoswiss, which has made regulators its speciality? Or what about an unlikely candidate like Eric Giroud’s contemporary take on the regulator for Louis Erard?
Senator Chronometer Regulator
Like the historic regulators of yesteryear, the minute display dominates the scenery of the Senator Chronometer Regulator; the hours are placed in a sub-dial at 12 o’clock and the small seconds in another sub-dial at 6 o’clock. The all-important minutes are read with a long blued minute hand with a polished eye which extends all the way to the engraved and galvanised minute track and rests perfectly on the respective minute marker so there is no room for imprecision.
The two sub-dials, identical in size and aligned vertically, are slightly recessed to add depth and interest to the dial. Classic Roman numerals mark the hours while the small seconds feature Arabic numerals and a miniature version of the minutes track on the periphery of the dial for the seconds. These tiny details work their magic to produce an exceptionally well-balanced and harmonious scene. And as you all know by now, GO has its very own dial manufacture located in Pforzheim, and the varnished silver-grained dial with its fine matte finish was crafted by GO’s expert artisans.
Although you probably wouldn’t find a date window on a historic regulator clock, what would a GO watch be without the Panorama Date? It is such a fundamental identity trait of the brand that any watch without this feature seems to be missing something. Positioned at 3 o’clock, the black numerals are printed on ivory coloured discs to match the dial. Directly opposite the bevelled rectangular date window is a small circular counter for the AB/AUF power reserve indication, also indicated with a blued hand. The small aperture on the hours counter just above VI is a day/night indicator and changes from black to white to make it easier to set the time respecting the date change.
The polished red gold case has a diameter of 42mm and a height of 12.47mm. Not a small watch by any stretch of the imagination, but a size that allows an expansive view of the dial enhancing legibility no end.
Precision is the name of the game – Calibre 58-04
The Senator Chronometer Regulator is driven by the manual-winding Calibre 58-04, which is based on the manual winding Calibre 58-01 fitted inside the Senator Chronometer. The movement permits the precise coordination of the minute and seconds hands. Using a novel stop-seconds/reset mechanism, it becomes much easier to set the exact time. When winding the crown, the time display is stopped, the seconds hand jumps to zero and remains there. At the same time, the minute hand also advances to the next full minute index. When the crown is wound to set the time, the minute hand always rests on the full minute indices. This means that the correct relationship of the displayed seconds and minutes is assured.
A sapphire crystal caseback reveals the beautiful manual-winding calibre 58-04, complete with the classic three-quarter plate with Glashütte stripes, the hand-engraved balance cock, screw-mounted gold chatons, blued screws, galvanized surfaces, bevelled edges, perlage on the base plate, the swan-neck fine adjustment and a ratchet wheel with double sunburst decoration. Oscillating at 28,800vph/4Hz, the running time is of 44 hours and 40 minutes.
Only two watches from Glashütte Original boast official chronometer status: the Senator Chronometer and the Senator Chronometer Regulator. The branch of the German Calibration Service (DKD) that undertakes the chronometry tests is located in Glashütte in the restored astronomical observatory where tests are conducted over a period of 15 days. Unlike the Swiss chronometer agency COSC, which tests uncased movements, DKD tests the cased watches and requires that every chronometer can be set to the second – hence the stop-seconds/reset mechanism.
When handling this watch, the word ‘grand’ kept crossing my mind. It is indeed a stately watch with plenty of character; a classic but with a twist provided by the regulator display. I don’t think anybody would find it hard to consult the time on this watch because everything is so perfectly laid out and clear. Yes, the proportions are generous but who would want to cramp those intriguing features on the dial?
The Senator Chronometer Regulator comes on a handsome black alligator leather strap with a double-folding red gold fastener with a satin finish. It can also be fitted with a pin buckle or a short clasp if desired. The retail price of the watch is EUR 27,000.
For more information, please consult glashuette-original.com.