While some brands came with over 100 novelties at Baselworld 2017, the Saxonian brand Glashütte Original only introduced 2 new masculine watches during the show. And to be honest, why doing more when you offer new products of such quality. Together with the surprisingly sporty Steel Senator Chronograph Panorama Date, Glashütte Original also introduced an elegant, refined and complex Perpetual Calendar version of the precise Senator Excellence. Elegant and refined? Not only, as I surprised myself to have a crush on an unexpected sporty steel version of this QP watch, not the kind of combination that you imagined from GO…
Nearly 20 years ago (already…) Glashütte Original launched its first vision of what is considered a masterpiece of watchmaking, the Perpetual Calendar – the mechanism that allows to have a watch that will (almost) always accurately display the date, taking into account the month of 30 or 31 days, but also the month of February with 28 days and finally, the leap years and the 29-day month of February (meaning that the next adjustment you’ll need to do will be on the 1st of January 2100…) The display of the perpetual calendar, specific to the brand, was used previously on the Senator Perpetual. While many perpetual calendars are based on multiple sub-dials with indications pointed by hands, GO made the choice of something easier to read, and rather architectural in the way the indications are placed on the dial. Several windows, a great symmetry and the capacity to be read in a quick glance. This display became a signature… and you don’t mess with such assets.
For Baselworld 2017, the Perpetual Calendar by Glashütte Original receives a major update, by changing everything, to the exception of the display. New case, new base movement, new design, new dial… And even included in another collection, the recently introduced Senator Excellence. One thing has been kept: the QP module. The rest is entirely new, and very achieved. More modern, more elegant, more refined, and “more certified”.
The Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar is based on the Calibre 36, introduced last year in time-only and Panorama-Date versions (the large, signature double-disc date of the brand), followed later by a Moon-Phase edition. The calibre 36 is a solid offer, which intends to become the standard cornerstone of the Senator collection and the base for future developments. This movement has been developed with two ideas in mind. First of all, it had to be reliable and stable enough to receive all kinds of modules, without compromising the chronometric performance. Then, it had to be precise, efficient and performant.
The previous 3-hand with central second calibre of GO, the Calibre 39 (the one in the Senator Automatic), was a rather old-school engine: 40 hours power reserve only, classical materials, rather small diameter (26mm). The new Calibre 36 is much more modern and much more efficient. This calibre 36 runs at 4Hz, however the escapement features a silicon balance spring (antimagnetic, less affected by temperature…), which is a first for the brand. Then, its power reserve is now a comfortable 100-hour (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 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 40mm-42mm cases, making it pleasant when looked through the sapphire caseback.
The other novelty introduced by the Calibre 36 was an internal testing and adjusting program. The movements are controlled and adjusted in 6 positions and to different temperatures, at 4 stages of the power reserve, and for both the precision, the amplitude and the length of the power reserve. This is done internally and not by an external certification office (as for instance COSC). The watches are delivered with a certificate attesting of the results. Again, this was a great step forward for the brand.
The new Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar is based on these technical progresses, as the classical (yet legible and easy to adjust) perpetual calendar module is attached on top of the Calibre 36. The display remains traditional, with 4 windows placed in a symmetrical and highly balanced way: Panorama Date at 4, a moonphase echoing at 8 and the day and month windows placed symmetrically on the upper half. A small sub-dial at 12 indicates the leap year (a new feature). Overall, simple and easy to read. Adjustments of the moon, day and month are done via recessed pushers in the caseband, while the date can be adjusted via the crown.
In terms of style, while the roots of Glashütte Original are still here, the Senator Excellence introduced some modernity and a more elegant look to the collection. And this new Perpetual Calendar version is no exception to the rule. The case is sized equally (compared to the older Senator), at 42mm, but the overall proportions are much more balanced, thanks to a larger dial, a thinner bezel, thinner lugs and a case that has lost almost 1mm in thickness (12.8mm vs 13.6mm). On the wrist, this Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar is sleeker, more refined and more elegant than before. And on our side, we won’t complain about that.
The dial also plays on traditional codes, slightly modernized. Roman numerals are used only at 6 and 12, while the railroad minute track becomes thinner. The markers are not just being printed but are laser engraved and then filled with black lacquer. Yet, the superb blued steel hands, with their signature shape, are still right in place. The dial is nicely executed, with a varnish silver-grainé finishing. The 18k red gold case is here combined to a dark brown alligator strap. This version of the Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar is priced at EUR 32,300 (so less than 5% increase, compared to the previous edition). But there’s more…
A surprising sporty steel version
Until now, we’ve been looking at the classical gold / leather version of this Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar, a highly anticipated version. Clearly, a QP is a watch that you imagine being luxurious. But Glashütte Original has decided to go on a direction that, at first, you don’t really expect, with a steel case / steel bracelet version of this QP. And to be honest, I have to admit an instant crush on this supposedly weird combination.
On a personal side, I do have a tendency to prefer sports watches (for their robustness), steel rather than gold (because I don’t have to care too much about scratches and shocks) and bracelets (for the comfort and the look). However, being editor for a watch magazine, I also have a soft spot for beautiful and complex mechanics. So, guess what? I loved this steel on steel version of the Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar even more than the elegant and classy gold version – and not to mention that at EUR 19,800, it becomes quite a nice value for money offering.
While I’m not saying that I could see myself diving or hiking with such a watch, the steel on steel attire combined to a QP fulfills my needs for a complex daily-beater that I don’t have to care much about, and that remains light and comfortable on my (way too) small wrist (also available on a black alligator leather strap). Available in June 2017. More details on www.glashuette-original.com.