As familiar as we are with the big players in Glashütte, there is another Saxon brand that should be on our radar. Founded by Johannes Dürrstein, who had previously distributed watches for A. Lange & Söhne from his Dresden boutique, Union Glashütte set up shop in 1893. Marking the brand’s 130th anniversary, Union Glashütte presents the 1893 Johannes Dürrstein Edition Chronograph inspired by a pocket watch chronograph of the 1920s. Legible, pragmatic and Saxon in character, the price might come as a welcome surprise to fans of Glashütte watchmaking.
Following the ups and downs of East Germany’s history, the Uhrenfabrik Union in Glashütte had its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but was eliminated from the German Commercial Register in 1936 and lay dormant for 60 years. Relaunched in 1996 as a subsidiary of Glashütte Original and acquired by Swatch Group in 2000, it wasn’t until 2008 that Union Glashütte gained its independence. Since then, the brand has consolidated an eclectic portfolio of mechanical watches with accessible prices, ranging from retro chronographs inspired by the world of classic car racing – Viro and Noramis – to sportier water-resistant models like the Belisar all the way through to more traditional models housed in the 1893 family.
Inspired by the rounded case of a pocket watch chronograph from the 1920s, the Johannes Dürrstein Chronograph comes in a sizeable 42mm stainless steel case with a thickness of 14.23mm and a contemporary 100m water-resistance. The bezel, rectangular chronograph pushers and large crown are polished, while the lugs and case flanks display a sportier vertically brushed finish. A third pusher on the left case flank is used to correct the date.
Although the brand has not provided a detailed photograph of the 1920s pocket watch, you can make out its features in the video posted on top of this article, and there are plenty of similarities. Set against a vertically brushed silver dial, the two counters at 9 and 3 o’clock respect the bi-compax layout and even replicate the font used to create the numerals and railway track chapter rings of the original. The counters are recessed and decorated with a circular brushed pattern and indicated by blued hands very similar to those of the original. However, where things differ is the inverted position of the counters. The original had running seconds at 3 o’clock and a 30-minute totaliser at 9 o’clock with an unusual track divided into 3-minute intervals. Here, the running seconds counter is at 9 o’clock, paired with numerals matching the original font, and the 30-minute elapsed time counter at 3 o’clock features the 3-minute intervals printed on the railway track.
The glossy black Arabic numbers marking the hours on the dial have been faithfully replicated in the same font, and the blued syringe-style hour and minute hands are also modelled after their ancestor. The deep-set rectangular date window at 6 o’clock and the domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating protecting the dial are contemporary features. Matching the blued hands is the blue calfskin leather strap with a double-folding fastener.
A see-through window on the caseback reveals the manual-winding UNG-59.SI calibre based on the Valjoux 7750 and modified for the brand with an anti-magnetic silicon balance spring and an extended power reserve of 60 hours. Decorated with perlage and signature Glashütte stripes, the movement appeared in 2020 inside a tri-register chronograph but suppresses the 12-hour counter here.
Availability & Price
The Union Glashütte 1893 Johannes Dürrstein Edition Chronograph is a limited edition of 300 pieces and retails for EUR 3,600. For more information, please consult union-glashuette.com.