When the first Senator Excellence model was unveiled in 2016, there was as much excitement about the aesthetic attributes of the watch as its brand new in-house movement. Part of Glashütte Original’s commitment to up the ante on quality and performance, the Senator Excellence line has fleshed out into a full collection, which includes the Panorama Date model that we will be looking at today. A handsome GO watch with the iconic date function, this watch is packed with contemporary design details that go a long way in dispelling the idea that this is “just another classic three-hand dress watch“.
Made in Glashütte
The epicentre of Germany’s watchmaking industry since the mid-1900s, the small village of Glashütte has had its fair share of trials and tribulations. The bombings at the end of WWII, followed by post-war reparations in the form of tools and machinery for the Soviets, and even periodic flooding have not been able to shake the Saxon pride in crafting the finest watches in Germany. (For a comprehensive overview of Glashütte’s pivotal role in watchmaking, don’t miss this article.)
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, Glashütte has undergone a renaissance as a dozen watch brands – some returning, some newcomers – line the main (and very narrow) road that runs parallel to the Müglitz river. The story of Glashütte’s revival is documented in loving detail by the brands that have settled in the village – and in a video we’ve done together with them. What they don’t always tell you about is how endogamic this community really is.
Typical Glashütte traits, like the three-quarter plate, hand-engraved balance cocks, screwed gold chatons, German silver and the swan neck fine adjustment are legitimate legacies of their heritage. Other features like the large double date window are of more recent creation, albeit inspired by past glories. Glashütte Original, like A. Lange & Söhne, made a commitment from the start to produce high-end mechanical watches that would put the village of Glashütte back on the watchmaking map, in a privileged and most merited position.
Upping the ante on quality
The Senator Excellence line was introduced during Baselworld 2016 along with a manufactory calibre that would set a new benchmark for precision. Glashütte Original’s commitment to increasing quality and precision was encapsulated in its in-house calibre 36, a base calibre with silicon components (a first for GO) that offered stability, precision and a power reserve of at least 100 hours (also a first for GO) provided by just one spring barrel.
The first member of the Senator Excellence family was a three-hand watch designed to be a more technically sophisticated and elegant dress watch than the existing Senator Automatic. The Senator Excellence family quickly grew to incorporate the Panorama Date, the Panorama Date Moon Phase and even a Perpetual Calendar. Today we are going to take a second look at the red gold model of the Panorama Date, a watch that captures the spirit of excellence pursued by GO.
Although both the Senator Automatic and the Senator Excellence sit side by side in the current collection, there are notable differences that make the Excellence, in our eyes, a more elegant and more contemporary watch. Although both watches measure 40mm, they wear quite differently and the thinner bezel and lugs on the Senator Excellence along with the brushed casebands make the watch look smaller and less bulky than the polished Senator Automatic. Another advantage of the slim bezel is that the dial has plenty of room to breathe and reveal the superb craftsmanship of Pforzheim’s dial makers.
A beautiful contemporary Dial
Glashütte Original’s in-house dial manufactory is located in Pforzheim and is one of the few firms to make its own blanks. Most of the work is done by hand and up to 75 separate steps are required to complete a dial. The process starts with an artisan laser-engraving the numerals and tracks into the metal. Once the engraving is finished, the cavities are filled with black paint and then polished. The last, and perhaps trickiest stage is the application of a grained silver surface on top of the dial that cannot cover the black markings.
It’s funny because although you would be correct in calling this a ‘classic’ watch, there are some great contemporary touches that eradicate the fuddy-duddy soul of a classic watch your grandfather might have worn. By keeping just two slim Roman numerals – at VI and XII – and using long straight hour markers, the personality of the watch changes radically. Each hour marker baton is crowned by a red minute numeral, in turn encircled by a railroad chapter ring.
The more I look at the minimalist elegance of the black batons and red minute numerals, the more they remind me of the Bauhaus aesthetic practised by another well-known German brand just down the road. This discreet but very effective use of colour really gives the watch a modern feel that works well with the more traditional pear-shaped blued hands (beautifully executed, by the way), the cursive Glashütte logo and the generous date window. Warmer than an enamel or lacquered dial the grainy texture of the dial would be impossible to replicate in more conventional industrial dial processes.
A Panorama date window
This Panorama date window, a distinctive feature of all the watches in the Pano line, makes its way into the Senator Excellence family respecting its traditional location on the dial at 4 o’clock. Like all Panorama dates, the secret of its exceptional legibility lies in the mounting of two concentric display discs on the same level, which makes it possible to present the two date numerals without the need for a central separation bar. Instead of the rectangular window that frames the complication on Pano watches, the date window on the Senator Excellence features an even larger frame with a double-bevel and soft, rounded edges. Date windows are anathema for many purists but when you are confronted with a date window of such elegant proportions and such beautiful crafting, you might even be won over.
Calibre 36 the foundation stone
Turning the watch over is another experience altogether and reveals a generous window on the modern movement. Designed as a base calibre, the movement has been optimised for production, assembly and servicing. In fact, calibre 36 features an innovative fastening system that makes it easy to extract the movement from the case – a bit like the bayonet mount in a camera lens. Calibre 36-03 is based on calibre 36 but fitted with the signature panorama date.
Equipped with a silicon balance spring for increased precision, the single spring barrel can provide more than 100 hours power reserve at a frequency of 4 Hz. It might be modern in terms of technology, but the movement displays the characteristic three-quarter plate with Glashütte stripes, the skeletonised rotor with its oscillating mass in 21k gold, perlage on the base plate, screw-mounted gold chatons, blued screw and bevelled edges. GO went one step further and submitted the calibre to in-house chronometric tests for a period of 24 days, many of them surpassing German Chronometry tests.
The Senator Excellence Panorama Date certainly packs a punch. Classic without being old-school, elegant without being passé, the dial and case bring a refreshing touch of contemporary design elements that seem very much at home on the expansive dial. But what is really exciting about this watch is the very new-school movement where precision and performance are prized.
The 18k red gold model of the Senator Excellence Panorama Date comes with a black alligator strap and a red gold pin buckle. The watch retails for EUR 18,400. More details on www.glashuette-original.com.