Glashütte Original is not necessarily known for its super-complicated watches, although there are certainly a few notable ones in the collection, such as the Senator Cosmopolite and the PanoLunar Tourbillon. What the German watch-manufacturer is known for, however, is making high-quality, elegantly designed timepieces that meld tradition with modern techniques. The latest example of this comes in the form of the newly announced, Senator Tourbillon – Edition Alfred Helwig. Read on for all the details.
Who Is Alfred Helwig?
Or, rather, who was Alfred Helwig? Born in 1886 in an area that was then known as Lower Lusatia, Mr. Helwig would go on to become one of the most significant figures in Glashütte’s watchmaking history. So much so, in fact, that today the Glashütte Original watchmaking school bears his name. As a teacher there for 31 years, this accomplished master watchmaker transferred his knowledge to the multitude of students who came through the school’s doors throughout his tenure.
Most significantly, however, Mr. Helwig is the man responsible for the creation of the flying tourbillon. Building on the exceptional work of Abraham Louis Breguet, who invented the tourbillon in 1801, Helwig’s innovations were largely aesthetic. The traditional tourbillon mechanism, designed to counter the effect of gravity on the rate precision, is anchored at both the top and the bottom. Helwig developed a cantilevered mechanism anchored on one side only, negating the need for the top bridge and thus offering unobstructed views of this mesmerising escapement. Not surprisingly, the flying tourbillon is, these days, exceptionally popular for this very reason.
The Senator Tourbillon Edition Alfred Helwig
The Glashütte Original Senator Tourbillon – Edition Alfred Helwig (Ref 1-94-03-05-04-30), is based on the non-limited Senator Tourbillon, introduced in 2013, however, it has been visually reworked to pay suitable tribute to the creator of the flying tourbillon. Limited to just 25 pieces – one for each Glashütte Original boutique in the world – it epitomises the understated elegance that has become a trademark of the German watch manufacturer.
Presented in an 18k white gold case measuring 42mm x 13.7mm, it features a gorgeous varnish silver-grainé dial with contrasting black Roman numerals for the hour indexes and a railroad chapter ring for the minutes. The time is indicated by traditional blued hands and if you look closely, you will notice the hour index at 1 o’clock has been subtlety replaced with the numbered edition of the watch (i.e. Nr. 1/25).
Just beneath 12 o’clock we find Glashütte Original’s familiar Panorama Date, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Since 1997, the German watch manufacturer has used two date discs arranged concentrically on the same level to ensure easy reading of the date without a central separation bar. A relatively simple touch perhaps but one that has proved immensely popular with fans of the brand over the years.
Directly opposite the Panorama Data display, just above 6 o’clock, is the main attraction: the Flying Tourbillon. Secured exclusively below the tourbillon base, the escape wheel pinion protrudes from below the tourbillon and engages with the fourth wheel, which itself is attached to the base plate. The rotation of the tourbillon results in the escape wheel pinion engaging the fourth wheel, which allows the escape wheel to trigger, via the pallet fork, the oscillations of the balance wheel.
Mesmerising to look at, the movement of the balance and cage can thus be admired without interference from a top bridge as it completes one full rotation every sixty seconds. Comprised of 72 finely finished components, each of which are painstakingly decorated and assembled by hand, the flying tourbillon weighs a mere 0.2 grams.
On the reverse side of the watch, we find the Glashütte Original Calibre 94-03, an aesthetically refined manufacture movement oscillating at 21,600 v/ph and offering a 48-hour power reserve. Visible through the sapphire case-back, the movement has been traditionally decorated with Glashütte ribbings (the German equivalent of Côte de Genève), galvanised bridges, blued screws and bevelled bridge edges. The off-centered rotor has an oscillating mass of 21-carat gold, Glashütte ribbing and the iconic double-G Glashütte Original logo.
Presented on an attractive blue Louisiana Alligator leather strap complete with an 18ct white gold fold fastener, the Glashütte Original Senator Tourbillon – Edition Alfred Helwig is indeed a very handsome watch. Personally, I think I still prefer the more contemporary look of the non-limited edition, with its matte grey/black dial and white gold hands, however, this watch will certainly suit those with more traditional tastes and who value the exclusivity a limited edition offers. For more information please visit Glashütte Original.
Technical Specifications – Glashütte Original Senator Tourbillon Edition Alfred Helwig
- Case: 42mm diameter x 13.70mm height – 18k white gold, polished and brushed – sapphire crystal on both sides – 50m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre 94-03, in-house – automatic with off-centered rotor – 3hz frequency – 48h power reserve – Hours, minutes, large date, flying tourbillon
- Strap: Louisiana Alligator leather strap blue, fold fastener 18k white gold
- Reference: 1-94-03-05-04-30
- Limited Edition: 25 pieces
- Price: Approx. EUR 100,000 (the black dial version, also in white gold, is priced at EUR 100,800)