Glashütte Original turns to its long history to develop new watches that complete the brand’s product offering and showcase another fascinating facet of its heritage.
Glashütte Original’s history goes back to 1845, when the Saxon village was deliberately established as the center of fine German watchmaking, and to this day Glashütte remains the heart of German-made high-end horology.
Today, the tradition continues as Glashütte Original introduces the SeaQ, a new diving watch inspired by a vintage model from 1969.
In other vintage-inspired news, Glashütte Original also introduces a new pair of Sixties timepieces, only available for this year, in a stunning orange dial color.
A Little History Lesson
Glashütte was historically a mining center in Saxony, but when economic prospects were dire, the Saxon government decided to start watchmaking in this tiny mining village. On December 7, 1845, the first citizens of Glashütte began their apprenticeships in watchmaking. The plan worked better than anyone could have imagined, as by the start of the 20th century, Glashütte watches were renowned throughout the world for their quality.
After the Second World War, when Germany was divided in two and Glashütte ended up in East Germany, the watchmakers in Glashütte were reorganized and combined into one company called “Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe” which is German for Watchmaking Companies of Glashütte.
Many people regard production in the Communist era as inferior, but that was not the case with watches in Glashütte. This company continued to produce high quality watches, though the emphasis was on watches to serve the people with precision, ruggedness and versatility. And it excelled in this role, developing watches that performed extremely well, gaining a worldwide reputation for innovation and excellence. For nearly 40 years, the Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe was the only watch manufacturer in town.
After the Berlin Wall fell and Germany reunified, the company was successfully privatized, continued to produce watches throughout these turbulent times and turned to high-end watchmaking once again. Although the legal name of the company is still Glashütter Uhrenbetrieb, the manufacture operates since 1994 under the brand name Glashütte Original.
Today, many watchmakers and precision mechanics that have been with the company since the 1960s and 1970s continue to work for Glashütte Original, a member of the Swatch Group since 2000. It is absolutely not unusual to meet construction engineers or watchmakers who have been working for the company for 30, 40 or even 50 years.
The name Glashütte Original comes from something the historic Glashütte companies did to protect the industry. The Glashütte way of making excellent, functional watches became known around the world, so much so that companies from other countries added the words “System Glashütte” to their watches to capitalize on the reputation of the town. To combat this confusion, watchmakers based in Glashütte started to add the word “Original” to their watches, to identify them as truly Saxon-made.
Some of the hallmarks of the brand — and the Glashütte way — include the use of 3/4 plates and Glashütte decorative striping, sober and pure designs, useful complications, legible indications and more. Today, Glashütte Original is the rightful heir to the watchmaking heritage of Glashütte, emphasizing precision, innovation, and beauty while honoring the tradition of Glashütte watchmakers.
The SeaQ and the New Spezialist Collection
This year, Glashütte Original introduces the SeaQ in a brand-new collection for the brand, Spezialist (“Specialist” in English). This new collection is for people who have a hands-on approach to life, who are not afraid to take risks, who actively engage with life and who create their own destiny. It opens up a new category within the manufactory’s collection with a special emphasis on watches with an instrument character.
The first watch in the new Spezialist collection is the SeaQ, a diver’s watch, inspired by a model called the Spezimatic Type RP TS 200 from 1969. This was the first diver’s watch ever produced in Glashütte and it used the famed caliber 75 (all watches with the caliber 75 were called Spezimatic).
Back in 1969, the watch was designed for professional divers — it was clearly aimed at military divers, the East German version of the Navy SEALs. In fact, they were consulted during the development of this timepiece back in the 1960s. This was a time when decoration wasn’t important, the most important aspects of the Spezimatic were reliability, robustness and high performance. This had to be the focus, as the divers who used these watches relied on them to survive under the water.
The original was produced in a low quantity for this highly specialized group of clients, the Navy divers and certain groups of civilian divers.
The new SeaQ (the “Q” stands for quality) is based on this first Spezimatic diver’s watch, celebrating this watch’s 50th anniversary, but enlarged and refined for today’s customers. The original Spezimatic was 36mm, and the first model has been enlarged to 39.5mm and uses the same design language and the same text on the dial. It was very important for Glashütte Original to stay close to the original model in terms of design, but the construction is completely different, using domed sapphire glass and ceramic inserts in the unidirectional bezel. The movement used is the modern caliber 39-11, which uses the distinctive swan neck fine adjustment and is decorated with Glashütte striping, beveled edges and other hallmarks of “Made in Glashütte” timepieces. The face of the watch is very close to the historic design used of the Spezimatic, with the date at three o’clock.
The SeaQ uses the same color luminescent material as the original, “Old Radium” Super-LumiNova, which is light brown and reinforces the vintage feeling of the timepiece. This model also comes in a special edition, which is limited to 69 pieces and features hands in green Super-LumiNova as well as historic dial inscriptions staying as close as possible to the predecessor launched in 1969.
The SeaQ uses a rubber strap inspired by the pattern of the original watch, and there is also a synthetic strap, which is woven nylon exclusively made for Glashütte Original. The SeaQ is also available on a newly developed bracelet, which is lighter and equipped with Glashütte Original’s ergonomic fine adjustment system.
The engraving on the caseback of the watch is of the trident of Neptune and the double G logo with waves engraved around the trident — exactly 20 waves that represent the 20 bar water resistance of the watch. “Made in Germany” is proudly engraved on the caseback along with the DIN number 8306, which is the German norm for diver’s watches. Glashütte Original has combined the strictest norm of the German standard with the ISO standard 6425 in the SeaQ. You can expect more in the SeaQ range later this year, and the Spezialist Collection will continue to grow with more instrument watches to come.
A Pair of Sixties
For several years, Glashütte Original has been introducing fascinating editions with special colors in its Sixties Vintage collection, and this year sees the debut of a Sixties time only and a Sixties Panorama Date with a beautiful orange/red color dial. Available from March 2019 to March 2020, this dial color is achieved by first imprinting the German silver dial with a special filigree pattern, then galvanizing it in gold, followed by blending two layers of red and black lacquer to get the grading effect, and the dial is then fired in the oven. The indices are cut in a curve into the domed dial surface by hand with a tiny rotating saw. All the dials are done in Glashütte Original’s own dial manufactory in Pforzheim.