Glashütte Original is among a handful of elite luxury watchmakers in Germany, founded in 1994 with values and traditions going back to 1845. Watchmaking apprenticeships began in Glashütte in the mid-19th century and it soon became the epicenter of German horology. This Saxon watch industry had a worldwide reputation of excellence by the early 20th century, but financial and wartime difficulties, along with fierce Swiss competition, took a toll. Surviving Glashütte watchmakers, including A. Lange & Söhne, eventually merged into a state-owned company in 1951, Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB). This East German conglomerate was one of many known as a Volkseigener Betrieb, VEB, roughly translated to a "People's Company." Following German reunification in 1990 and the subsequent privatization of VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe, Glashütte Original emerged with the DNA of Germany's rich watch heritage. After six years of local operations, the company was acquired by the Swatch Group in 2000 and over 95% of production is now achieved in-house.
Glashütte Original combines state-of-the-art production technologies with traditional handwork to create some the most refined, sophisticated luxury timepieces in the heart of Germany’s watchmaking center. The brand is known for its exclusivity as only a few hundred pieces of any given model are produced annually, with limited editions particularly valued by connoisseurs and collectors alike. Vertical integration allows for harmonious overall designs with a masterful attention to detail regarding cases, dials, movements and hands. Glashütte Original is proud to include “Made in Germany” on its dials and the Saxonian design language is clearly evident throughout its portfolio.
Notable pieces include the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon, which is among the greatest travel-friendly mechanical watches of the 21st century. Presented in 2012, the watch features multiple time zones with both central and sub-dial hands, and perpetual calendar with day of week and day/night indicator, month and leap year indicators, and Panorama date display. If you need to adjust your timezone back after a flight, all calendar displays will move backwards together to accommodate. February/March adjustments also work seamlessly in either direction with the use of only one crown. These innovations are a world’s first and the company registered four patents as a result. Capping things off is a minute flying tourbillon at 9 o’clock.
In 2002, the company opened the Alfred Helwig School of Watchmaking to develop and maintain new talent for future design and production. The school is a member of the Swatch Group’s international network of Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking Schools, offering via a partnership with Switzerland’s WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program) opportunities to complement German diplomas with a Swiss certification. This allows for greater international prospects for students in the future.
Glashütte Original has a dedicated facility for dial production, located 600km away from their main facility in Pforzheim. The brand is one of the few watchmakers to produce its own dial blanks, using materials such as brass, German silver, bronze or gold. Galvanization or the application of lacquer continue the production process, with pad-printing following (a silicone or rubber balloon picks up ink from a “cliché” or negative engraving). In the case of a complex dial like the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon, twelve different prints must be applied in sequence and the entire process is governed manually. Whether mounting appliques, precious stones or applying Super-LumiNova, almost every aspect of dial production is done by hand.
Watch collections include Senator, Pano, Vintage and Ladies lines, with models ranging from time-only pieces to complications such as the tourbillon, perpetual calendar, moon phase, chronograph and power reserve indicator. Combining artisanship with technology, Glashütte Original honors Germany’s rich watchmaking heritage with luxury timepieces that push the boundaries of both innovation and artistry, with an educational apparatus to ensure future generations of in-house master watchmakers and designers.