The town of Glashütte is not a large place. Nestled among bucolic rolling hills, flanked by mighty age-old ore mountains, the town’s population is stated around 6,800. It feels like less. There is a cafe and a restaurant, a museum, a church, no hotels. Twenty miles to the north, the city of Dresden in “Silicon Saxony” is churning out millions of microprocessors. In Glashütte, they are making fine mechanical timepieces.
“The men and women of Glashütte are like the rubies in a movement; steadfast, resilient, and precious.”
Watchmaking in this region is distinctive, not least because of its unique history. Glashütte, part of the former Kingdom of Saxony, was once a mining town. During the mid-19th century, faced with the prospect of a declining industry, local watchmakers convinced the King to invest in an independent Saxon watch industry as a new future. In just a few years, the town of Glashütte reinvented itself. Soon, the region’s technical innovations were so renowned as to be copied by some neighboring Swiss watchmakers. So the Saxons began adding the inscription “Original” to their products to distinguish authentic Glashütte timepieces from mere copies.
Today, that moniker lives on as an award-winning company. Remerging after the Cold War to international recognition, the Glashütte Original Manufactory remains deeply connected to the Saxon legacy of craftsmanship and precision engineering, maintaining a vast corporate archive from before German reunification. In these troves is the story of the town, where specialist engineers and tradesmen pivoted to horology, relying on ingenuity and burning an independent streak. Residents were funneled into apprenticeship programs, their livelihoods dependent on mastering a new craft. When advanced watchmaking tools could not be easily acquired, those in Glashütte simply built their own.
This forward-looking approach and attention to detail is a hallmark of modern-day operations at Glashütte Original’s Manufactory. Even the smallest components still necessitate the utmost care; toolmakers and prototype builders are rarely idle. Every step along the way gets documented, examined via microscope or projection, studied until perfected. That’s to say nothing of the rigorous testing and evaluation. Only after this intense technical scrutiny does the human hand begin to put the movement together, undertaking the final assembly.
So it’s hardly surprising that Glashütte Original’s in-house movements often land at the absolute top end of Haute Horlogerie. Consider, for example, the ingenious new Senator Chronometer Tourbillon, a certified chronometer that undergoes 15 days of testing in various positions and temperatures. Here, for the first time, a flying tourbillon is combined with a minute detent second-stop and reset mechanism. The oscillation of the tourbillon, as always, counteracts the effects of gravity on performance; since the second hand is part of the tourbillon cage, it also stops immediately. Glashütte Original challenged its watchmakers to find a way to halt the spinning tourbillon while in full motion, and they succeeded. Two patents are in the works for this construction.
“The tourbillon attracts attention, but its regular, pulsing rhythm frees the eye to roam from one function to the next.”
The resulting complication pauses the time display and resets the second display to zero while the crown is out, advancing the minute hand synchronously, allowing the time to be set with exacting precision. Meanwhile, a silicon balance spring fortifies the movement against magnetism and fluctuation, and shock protection guards both sides of the flying tourbillon. When fully wound, the power reserve (displayed at 9 o’clock) runs for a full 70 hours. These functions are driven by the manual wind Calibre 58-05, developed in-house by Glashütte Original.
Outside, the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon draws on traditional Saxon design codes to accompany the mechanical complexity. With its multidimensional appearance, the dial is visually halved to provide a unique glimpse into the watch’s layered workings. The graphically sharp, Glashütte-striped finishing on the upper half contrasts with the elaborate, ornate hand engravings on the movement below. The galvanic blue face, color-matched to various exposed blued screws on the movement, floats gloriously above it all.
With a platinum case, the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon is limited to 25 pieces. It’s certainly a watch of occasion. Those aficionados who appreciate the artistry but are looking for increased everyday mileage can turn to the Senator Cosmopolite, now offered with a rich midnight-blue dial. Its overall design remains conservative while prioritizing legibility and functionality, adapting the classic Glashütte Original codes to the age of air travel.
An internal time zone ring allows the watch to be set to all 35 of the world’s time zones, using the official IATA airport codes to set Daylight Savings Time and Standard Time. Day/Night indicators for home and destination time are offered with a simple look. The dial at the 12 o’clock position provides the home time and power reserve; small seconds are displayed at six o’clock; the date at four. Large sword style hands and luminescent indices provide added clarity.
Sized at 44 mm, the Senator Cosmopolite’s stainless steel case houses Calibre 89-02, a 63jewel automatic featuring one of Glashütte Original’s greatest contributions to watchmaking: the double swan-neck fine adjustment. It’s all in the service of precision, providing a robust 72 hour power reserve that allows for two time zones to be displayed simultaneously, removing the headache of calculating time differences while jet-lagged. When the world gets back to traveling once again, the Senator Cosmopolite will certainly be ready.
“Freedom to choose the layout of the watch dial is limited by the mechanics of the movement, which is why we always have to keep the dial in mind when designing a new movement.”
If the Senator pieces are a love ballad to Saxon history, the Pano lineup is something like a remix. This collection extends the romance of German watchmaking further, introducing asymmetrical design cues for maximum personality points. The PanoMaticLunar is steeped in character, presenting a more contemporary take on Glashütte Original’s artistic flourishes. Exquisite in-house dial colors (which include a deep galvanized gray, a rich crème, and a vibrant navy blue) accompany a beautiful recessed moon phase indicator.
The movement of light on red gold flatters the PanoMaticLunar case shape. On the back, sapphire crystal allows for viewing of the automatic Calibre 90-02, with its numerous hand-beveled and engraved parts, working in unison to generate a stout 42-hour power reserve. For those seeking a more every-day classic, the PanoMatic Lunar is also offered in stainless steel, demonstrating a versatile and contemporary approach toward design within this collection.
With an unmistakably contemporary look, it’s sure to be a hit with aesthetic-minded enthusiasts who will find endless appeal in the PanoMaticLunar’s signature off-centered dial configuration. Hours, minutes, and small seconds are shifted to the left; the Panorama Date window and moon phase indicator are on the right. The arrangement provides a considerable amount of information at a glance: its lack of clutter allows the eye to easily take in all functions, or quickly train over a specific quadrant of the dial to reference the desired reading. Put simply, it’s a masterclass in visual balance.
To achieve the look, Glashütte Original worked from the Golden Ratio. This mathematical design principle—commonly found in nature, and used for centuries in art and architecture—determines the ideal relationship of proportions. On the Pano, the hour and minute hands are strategically placed to establish and enforce this spatial balance. It is, quite literally, a perfect spatial exercise.
“What makes the watch perfect: a very complicated mechanism made simple in a very visually pleasing manner, and easily understood by the wearer”
These age-old design tenants are a recurring theme across the Manufactory’s portfolio. Glashütte Original knew the Golden Ratio, often seen in the plant world, evoking a sense of harmony and balance, would be especially effective when applied to ladies watches. The challenge? Shrinking the asymmetry down to size.
The PanoMatic Luna version measures just over 39mm, a slight reduction from the PanoMaticLunar, but maintains divine proportions of the display: hour, minutes, and small seconds on the left, moon phase and date to the right. Backed by the 4Hz, 47-jewel Calibre 90-12 movement, the PanoMatic Luna wears its heart on its sleeve, with a mother of pearl dial and a polished steel case, surrounded by 64 brilliant-cut diamonds, all hanging on a dark purple strap. The winding crown’s oversized, 3mm diamond adds a touch of old-school glamour. And speaking of throwbacks…
Glashütte Original’s Vintage collection, which encompasses the aptly-named Sixties and Seventies models, might just be the pinnacle of irrepressible retro-cool. The pieces feature imaginative case shapes inspired by fashion, music, and architecture from decades where style disruption made waves. They’re matched to unusual dial colors and finishes, another hallmark of the Manufactory, often in limited-edition runs that sell out quickly.
In previous years, the stainless steel Sixties has been released with unique silver, black, dark blue, green, and orange faces. For 2020, a pair of crisp new Sixties variations join the line, offering a fresh glacier-blue dégradé dial. These special looks are created by Glashütte Original’s dial manufactory in Pforzheim, the German mecca of fine jewelry. A dial can take up to 75 steps to complete, including up to six quality-control tests along the way.
“The future interplay of all components first demands the interplay of all participants, every one of whom becomes a cog to transfer the know-how from one department to the next.”
To achieve an extraordinary dégradé effect, the blank watch faces are first given a sunray finish. They’re then pressed into a domed shape and coated with galvanic nickel. Next comes the hand-application of dark blue lacquer, at the edge. Finally, the lighter glacier-blue lacquer, also applied by hand, is sprayed over the entire dial. This renders each dial unique, ensuring a particular gradient and luminous glow.
That’s not to say function has been sacrificed at the altar of form. The glacier-blue Sixties is available as a three-hand, time-only model or a two-bank chronograph; both house in-house Glashütte Original movements (the Calibre 39-52 and Calibre 39-34, respectively). Both also boast a 40-hour power reserve and are water-resistant to 3 bar, though collectors are sure to think twice before exposing this limited edition’s handsome nubuck calfskin strap to oceanic conquest.
For that sort of adventure, they’ll want Glashütte Original’s latest collection, the Spezialist. This sporty new line came out swinging last year, inspired by the historic Spezimatic Type RP TS 200 developed 50 years prior in Glashütte for scuba diving. This year, a new version of the SeaQ Panorama Date diver’s watch makes its appearance in the still-young collection, adding the unexpected element of red gold trimmings to a stainless case. This piece can also be had in full red gold, a true luxe spin on the classic diver. Think of it as the ultimate timepiece for a getaway to Tulum, St. Bart’s, French Riviera, or the Greek Islands.
No matter where you are, the 43.2 mm case is sure to be noticed. On the backside, sapphire crystal reveals all of the Calibre 36-13’s bells and whistles—beautifully finished movement, beveled edges, polished Glashütte stripe, and a 21-carat gold oscillation weight. All this refinement doesn’t hinder the SeaQ Panorama Date’s diving credentials. The watch is water-resistant up to roughly 300 meters and packs a power reserve of 40 hours. Super-LumiNova numerals set against a black sunray dial increase underwater legibility. The coordinating grey fabric strap sets off the look.
It also speaks to the Glashütte Original mindset. The designers continue to dream, the watchmakers bring their technical know-how; shortcuts are never allowed and parity is taboo. Who says the Glashütte art of watchmaking can’t break new ground in tourbillion technology, develop a sophisticated asymmetrical design language, delve into retro-glam styling, and reimagine underwater adventure using precious metals, all at the same time?
This is independent thought and creative action, an example of what sets German timepieces apart from all others. Nearly two centuries after the Saxons began making watches, the Glashütte Original Manufactory embodies the spirit of the region. Something traditional, something different. But always something very, very special.