Monochrome Watches
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Glashütte Original Senator Observer 1911 Julius Assmann

| By Frank Geelen | 5 min read |

Yesterday we reported about a pre-SIHH launch of a German manufacture, today we can report about a novelty from another German manufacture: the new Glashütte Original Senator Observer 1911 Julius Assmann.

Glashütte Original amazed friend and foe with their Senator Chronometer, which was released at Baselworld 2009. The new Senator Observer 1911 vaguely reminds us of that magnificent watch. It features the same functions, however, the movement of the Senator Observer 1911 is an automatic calibre 100-14.

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Let’s start by mentioning that this is (unfortunately) a limited edition of only 25 pieces. This splendid timepiece, bears the name Senator Observer, in honour of Julius Assmann’s observation watches and Amundsen’s achievement in reaching the South Pole.

The Senator Observer 1911’s lacquered silver-grain dial is built up slowly from three separate layers of white lacquer, the third of which features a finely textured, silver-grain surface. The dial shows a small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and a power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock. Glashütte Original’s characteristic panorama date display is placed at 6 o’clock. The stainless steel hands are polished and blued and around the dial is a milled railroad chapter ring and black Arabic numerals.

The Senator Observer Limited Edition 1911 – Julius Assmann comes in a round white gold case, with a diameter of 44 mm, and is complemented by a brown calfskin strap. The case back is engraved with the limited edition number (01/25) and printed on the sapphire crystal are the dates of Amundsen’s arrival at the South Pole and its centennial anniversary: 14 Dec. 1911 – 14 Dec 2011 and the name Julius Assmann – Glashütte i/SA, and “Tribute to R. Amundsen”.

Inside ticks calibre 100-14, an exquisitely finished self-winding movement. Because traditional observation watches used hand-wound movements, Glashuette Original has chosen to equip the Senator Observer 1911 with an ‘Ab Auf’ (Up/Down) indicator like on old observation watches.

The movement has a zero-reset mechanism, which makes the second hand jump to zero upon pulling the crown. This makes it easier to set the time precise to the second. In contrast to other reset mechanisms, the balance continues to oscillate and the movement continues to run despite the crown being pulled, which considerably reduces wear and tear on the mechanism. When the crown is pulled, the reset mechanism works via a small heart-shaped cam that will reset the second hand to zero.

A bi-directional winding rotor delivers energy to a patented, stepped reduction gear, and then to two smaller, serially operating spring barrels. Large amounts of energy are transmitted to the mainspring, and the spring barrel is charged quickly. Calibre 100-14 features the characteristic Glashütte three-quarter plate, screw-mounted gold chatons and a rotor with 21-carat gold oscillating weight.

A personal note: I think it would have been logical if Glashütte Original had decided to make this a limited edition of 100 pieces, especially because it in celebration of the 100th anniversary of reaching the geographic South Pole.

And now a part of the press release, that was so interesting that I decided to use it in this post.

Honouring its rich heritage of more than 165 years of superior watchmaking in Glashütte, Germany, Glashütte Original is proud to present the Limited Edition Senator Observer 1911 – Julius Assmann.

This exceptional timepiece, handmade in the firm’s manufactory and limited to 25 pieces, pays homage to the pioneering spirit of two extraordinary men, Julius Assmann and Roald Amundsen.

Julius Assmann started his company at the age of 25 and is revered today as one of the founding fathers of watchmaking in Glashütte. Pocket watches, chronometers and observation watches crafted by Assmann and his employees were to play a significant role in establishing the company’s far-reaching reputation: the observation watches, in particular, were known for their remarkable precision and superior craftsmanship.

Before setting out on his historic voyage, Roald Amundsen acquired a number of Assmann observation watches, including one crafted by the young Glashütte watchmaker Paul Löwe in 1907/08.

Löwe’s watch proved to be exceptionally precise, and he was urged to send it for testing to the German Naval Observatory in Hamburg, the institute officially responsible for testing and certifying the accuracy of navigational timekeepers made in Germany. It was there that Roald Amundsen saw the watch, and he purchased it in 1910.

On December 14th, 1911, the Norwegian polar explorer and his team became the first persons ever to reach the geographic South Pole.

Observation watches, also known as “deck watches” were used by navigation officers in conjunction with marine chronometers and other instruments to determine as precisely as possible a ship’s position at sea, and Amundsen will have made good use of his observation watches during his voyage to Antarctica on the polar ship, Fram. Once he and his team set out from their base camp at Framheim on the Bay of Whales, however, the time kept by his observation watches became the only standard: one watch was set to a home time and assumed the function of the marine chronometer on a ship; a second watch was set to local time; measurement of the difference between the two was used to calculate, using spherical trigonometry, the team’s position during the trek to the South Pole; a compass and sextant were also used. Thus, Amundsen’s observation watches were absolutely critical to his mission: without them, he could never have reached his destination, much less claimed victory for Norway. In Oslo today, the Fram Museum displays, along with many other artifacts documenting the historic trek, one of Amundsen’s Glashütte observation watches, complete with the inscription

Observation watches continued to be manufactured in Glashütte until 1971, a testament to the ongoing production of high quality timepieces even during challenging times.

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