Once you’ve seen it, you are never going to forget it. During the Swatch Group’s presentation of the 2019 novelties held last week in Switzerland, Glashütte Original presented an exclusive, limited edition model of the PanoInverse. Richly ornamented, nothing is where you would expect it to be and the balance bridge, which is displayed dial-side, is literally suspended in negative space. A rare combination of tradition and modernity, the 42mm PanoInverse is a limited edition of 25 pieces in platinum and keeps its open heart pumping with the manual-winding calibre 66-08.
Wearing ITS heart on ITS sleeve
Eleven years ago, Glashütte Original unveiled its PanoInverse line. The concept was to ‘invert’ the position of the balance bridge and present it on the dial. Unconventional but deeply satisfying thanks to the beauty of the butterfly bridge and its double swan-neck fine adjustment, the beating heart of the movement animated the dial no end. The prevailing characteristic of the PanoInverse models is the pronounced asymmetric configuration: hours and minutes on the left intersected by a small seconds counter, the balance bridge on the right lower half of the dial and a power reserve indicator at 2 o’clock (the so-called GangReserve). The former non-limited editions of the PanoInverse were made from stainless steel and featured bold Glashütte stripes on the hallmark ¾ plate. Coupled with the bold Arabic numerals on the hours and minutes counter and the dark palette, the previous PanoInverse exuded a masculine, contemporary feel.
The latest PanoInverse is radically different. Almost the entirety of the rhodium-plated ¾ plate on the dial is hand-engraved with elaborate foliage. And, taking into account that each engraver has his/her own personal style, each of the 25 watches will be slightly different. What is even more surprising is the way the screw-mounted gold chatons, the blued screws and the ruby-red jewels seem to be integrated into the composition. Although we know they are for utilitarian purposes, it looks as though they form part of the foliage.
The two intersecting discs for the hours, minutes and small seconds are nestled among the ornamentation. The slightly gritty surface of these dials is achieved with blue-grained lacquer, and the hands (skeletonised for hours and minutes) and the applied indices are made from white gold.
The drama of negative space
The graceful butterfly bridge, composed of two hand-engraved balance cocks, spans the dial roughly from 6 o’clock to 2 o’clock. Apart from the unusual positioning of the balance bridge, the cut-out area to the right provides dramatic transparency. This use of negative space positions the bridge in a void and offers us an unimpeded view of the whirling balance wheel.
The duplex swan-neck fine adjustment, which you can see on the top of the balance cocks, was introduced by Glashütte Original in 2002 and can be found in several hand-wound and automatically wound calibres. The swan-neck fine adjustment allows a watchmaker to adjust the watch’s timekeeping rate with even more precision than a regular fine adjustment.
Turning the watch over, you can fully appreciate the area that has been removed from the plate and you can see the underside of the balance wheel. Naturally, the reverse side is also hand-engraved with the same delicate foliage.
Inverted Calibre 66-08
The PanoInverse Limited Edition is fitted with the manual-winding in-house calibre 66-08. Inverted in order to display its heart on the dial, the movement beats at a frequency of 4Hz and has a running time of 41 hours. In addition to the off-centred time indications and the power reserve display on the dial, the calibre has a stop-seconds mechanism for precise time setting.
If the former edition of the PanoInverse had a distinct, quite masculine and contemporary appeal, this model has an artistic, almost ethereal soul. I’m hesitant to use the word ‘feminine’, but the delicate hand-engraved motifs that grace the dial remind me of a field of wildflowers. The animation on the dial is mesmerising and being able to enjoy the endless palpitations of the balance wheel is a pleasure for any watch lover.
Availability and price
Limited to just 25 pieces, the 42mm case (height 12mm) is crafted from platinum with polished and satin-brushed finishes and has a blue sapphire cabochon in the crown. The watch comes with a dark blue alligator leather strap to match the colour of the blue dial, the blued screws and the cabochon in the crown. The watch is available from Glashütte Original Boutiques and retails for EUR 45,000. More information at glashuette-original.com.