It was actually because of one specific timepiece, that I got to know about the German high-end watch brand Glashütte Original. That specific watch was the Senator Sixties, which was introduced in 2007. It triggered me because I had just bought an old watch that was the spitting image of exactly that new watch, although mine was not labeled Glashütte-Original, but only Glashütte as ‘brand’ name. Since that time I’ve been watching the brand closely and when they introduced the Senator Chronometer I was (again) very impressed. I had the chance to wear, what I consider to be the very finest from this high-end German watch brand, the Glashütte-Original Senator Chronometer.
Of course, Glashütte-Original makes more complicated, and more eye-catching, timepieces. Take for instance the Senator Tourbillon, or the PanoLunar Tourbillon, that both feature a flying tourbillon. The flying tourbillon was invented by one of the brands’s forefathers, Alfred Helwig. Of course there are more (very) complicated timepieces in the brand’s collection, however the Senator Chronometer that I had for a review, has been designed and build as a chronometer. Its looks resemble an old ships chronometer and some of its functions are especially designed with perfect time-keeping in mind; exactly what we would expect from a chronometer.
The dial layout, and also the function of the two sub dials, resembles old ships chronometers. The two sub dials for the power reserve and running second are placed along the central axis. Only the date window is new – you wouldn’t find that on an old ships chronometer – and through the large aperture you can see the characteristic Glashütte-Original panorama date.
The Senator Chronometer is robust watch, and measures 42mm in diameter and is just over 12mm thick. Due to the shaped strap, which is made from alligator leather, and the short down-sloping lugs, the watch just “hugs” the wrist and is very comfortable. The details of the Glashütte-Original Senator Chronometer ooze quality, not only in functions but also in looks and finishing.
History of Glashütte Original
Watchmaking in the Saxony region started a long time ago, to be precise in 1845, by Ferdinand Adolph Lange (yes indeed, that’s the ancestor of Walter Lange, of that other watchmaking company in Glashütte.) The region has experience difficult times, especially after the second World War when that part of Germany – Glashütte is in East Germany – was under strong influence of the Soviet regime. Watchmaking was transformed from prize winning high-end watchmaking, as it was practiced before the war, to “functional” watchmaking during the East German era. All watchmaking activities were governed by VEB Glashütte Uhrenbetriebe GmbH (or short GUB), which was formed in 1951. After the wall fell, and East and West Germany were reunited, another era for the Glashütte watchmaking activities started. In 1994 the VEB Glashütte Uhrenbetriebe was privatized and became Glashütte Original.
Dial / Hands
As already said, the layout of the dial recalls that of a ship or pocket chronometer. Both sub dials, placed along the dial’s central axis, are recessed and that adds a nice elegant touch to the dial. A detail that always caught my attention is the Roman XII that is not recessed, and the recessed power reserve indicator, with “AUF” and “AB” (Up and Down in English), is formed around it. This way the milled Roman XII remains on the same level as the main dial, and all other milled Roman hour markers and the milled railroad chapter ring that encircles the central dial. A similar nice detail is small recessed square around the date aperture. A little touch that simply looks great, and is one of the details that show the attention to detail.
The dial has a “l’argenture grainée” finish, meaning it’s a silver dial with fine grain finish. The milled Roman numerals, the various rail tracks (around the dial and in both sub dials) and Arabic numerals (in both sub dials), all feature a very good contrast with the dial Similarly with the polished and blued minute and pear-shaped hour hands. The brand’s name and logo are now printed on the left side of the dial, which gives the entire dial layout a very pleasant balance.
Case / Strap
The Glashütte-Original Senator Chronometer comes in 18K rose or white gold, with matching clasp. The gold case measures 42mm in diameter and is 12.3mm thick, making this a robust, however not too big, watch. On the other hand, it wears incredibly comfortable and that’s due to two main factors: the lugs and the strap.
The lugs are quite short and are sloping downwards. Short and downward sloping lugs always improve the wearability of a timepiece, especially when it’s not the smallest watch. The strap that Glashütte-Original created for this watch, is formed to follow the round shape of the case, and is also sloping downwards. Because of both factors the Senator Chronometer hugs the wrist very comfortably and it wears smaller. The wrist ‘presence’ is not really small, as it has a large open face with a (relatively) narrow surrounding bezel.
The watch comes on a folding clasp, in the same colour 18K gold as the case, for a secure and comfortable fit.
The Glashütte-Original Senator Chronometer offers more than just chronometer-looks. Its most important feature is a novel stop-seconds/reset mechanism that allows the wearer to set the precise time with ease. What does this mean? When the crown is pulled to set the time, the hack-second mechanism stops the second hand. That’s not so unusual, because most modern mechanical movement are equipped with such a hack system. The big difference is, that when the crown is pulled out into the time-setting position, the second hand also resets to zero, and the minute hand moves to the next full minute.
When you turn the crown to set the time, the minute hand jumps from with 1-minute increments and will always point to a full minute. This way you can set the Senator Chronometer exact to the second and to the minute.
The Senator Chronometer also features a day/night indicator, through a small round aperture that is placed in the power reserve sub dial. From 6:00 am until 6:00 pm the small circle is white, and from 6:00 pm until 6:00 am it is black. This feature helps when setting the time or the date! Talking about the date, this is the only large date with two disks that sit on exactly the same level. Where other large date indications comprise two disks that overlap each other, Glashütte-Original is the only watch brand that mastered the large date properly, and the result is a very readable and good looking date that is referred to as “panorama date“.
The movement that makes the precision timekeeping possible, is the manually wound caliber 58-01. In Germany you may not simply call a watch a chronometer. They have a State office that administers the certifications and German chronometers must pass a series of performance and accuracy tests. One of the requirements for a chronometer, determined by the exacting German norm, is that every chronometer can be set to the second (hence the stop-seconds/reset mechanism) and tested in its own case. The Glashütte-Original Senator Chronometer is the first to be released with official confirmation in the form of a certificate, issued by the German Calibrating Service (DKD).
The movement features typical signs of Glashütte watchmaking, with a three-quarter plate decorated with Glashütte ribbing (a variation on Côte de Genève), screw-mounted gold châtons, and a hand-engraved balance cock. The screw balance, with 18 screws, can be regulated with the swan-neck fine-adjustment. The entire movement is very finished very nice and can be admired through a sapphire crystal pane with antireflective coating. The planetary gears, which can be seen in the photos above, are responsible for the power reserve indicator that goes from zero to 45 hours.
The Glashütte-Original Senator Chronometer is positioned as a luxury precision chronometer, along the lines of the Patek Philip, Blancpain, Breguet, A. Lange & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin. In that segment it’s one of the larger watches, however size is only a matter of taste, and comfort of wearing shouldn’t be an issue, even for smaller wrists. In terms of price it is comparable to a Patek ref. 5296, as it retails for around € 25.000 Euro (including VAT in the EU.) The Senator Chronometer finds itself in a price range with some serious competitors, however it is very nicely finished, created with a lot of attention to detail, and the only one with a novel stop-seconds/reset mechanism.
It was a real pleasure to wear the Senator Chronometer, as it is so pleasantly balanced on the wrist and wears very comfortable. Reading the time is very easy, with long hands that stretch to the indices, and the panorama date is also a big plus. Glashütte-Original created the pinnacle of precision timekeeping with the Senator Chronometer, and the quality and finishing is of beautiful. A perfect alternative for those who prefer a larger timepiece than for instance a classic Calatrava.
More info: www.glashuette-original.com