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Glashuette Original Senator Observer
A deck watch for a new generation
Germany has a long history of producing deck or observer watches, sometimes referred to as ”Nav B-Uhr” or “Beobachtungsuhr.”
These timepieces proved ideal for navigation, they followed the tradition of marine chronometers and pilot’s watches. The deck watches were tools which could be relied upon to ascertain longitude.
The historical observer watches from Glashütte exemplified clarity, imparting information with brevity and succinct delivery.
A professional instrument for navigation had to be an exemplar of reliability and the original observation watches from Glashütte always provided faithful service and bestowed dependability on its wearer. The quality of watchmaking from Glashütte in Saxony has always been legendary and continues to be held in high esteem to this day.
Glashütte Original revealed a new model this year at Baselworld 2012, which provides a new generation of watches to covet.
The Senator Observer is a superb blend of traditional details faithful to the watches harking back to the 1930’s and yet encompassing modernistic design language to attract fans of horology with something new.
The watch is available in two dial variants, silver grained or grey grained. The dials feature three layers of laquer, presenting a finely grained and textured surface. I like both variants but the silver grained variant, noses ahead, with its exquisite blued hands.
Arabic numerals depict the hours in a contemporary, unfussy font. A minute rail circumnavigates the periphery of the dial, helping the wearer to read off minutes.
At 3 o’clock a subdial shows the energy harnessed within the spring barrel, the power reserve. The power reserve is expressed in hours, shown in integers of 11 hours. The words “Ab” and “Auf”, up and down, show the upper and lower limits of the power reserve.
At 6 o’clock a panorama date display features, typical of high-end watches from this region.
At 9 o’clock, a subdial shows subsidiary seconds.
The blued second hand is elegantly slim and features a counterbalance, enhancing its elegant proportions. The hand travels along a smaller minute rail, a minature facsimile of the larger minute rail mentioned earlier. Arabic numerals feature on the subsidiary seconds subdial, echoing the larger numerals which mark the hours on the main dial.
Glashütte Original never confuse the dial with extraneous styling influences, there is always consistency with each design element creating harmony.
The main hour and minute hand are feuille or leaf shaped. The blued treatment of the hands reaffirms the provenance of this timepiece. All aspects convey quality.
The case diameter is 44 mm with a height of 12 mm. It is made of stainless steel and features both highly polished and satin brushed surfaces.
Noble metals would work well with this watch and sit comfortably with the high quality finishing synonymous with the brand. However, the stainless steel is beautiful, understated and makes the pricing of the timepiece more accessible.
The crown is neatly textured to facilitate operation and has the brand’s logo on its vertical flank.
Older observer watches had a sold case back and anti-magnetic, soft iron core. This model departs from this convention by having a sapphire crystal caseback. I always appreciate watches which allow me to share the craft of the watchmaker and I applaud Glashütte Original for affording the view of the magnificent movement within the case.
The movement is self-winding. The rotor is skeletonised allowing the wearer to enjoy the beauty of the finissage of the three quarter plate beneath. The rotor is constructed of 21-carat gold.
There is a distinct character to the presentation and finissage of Glashütte movements and this watch upholds the traditional finishing of the three quarter plate with Glashütte Ribbing.
The swan-neck regulator allows precise rate adjustment and is in accord with the history of Glashütte manufacturing. Rubies contrast with the polished and brushed adjacent surfaces.
The screwed balance is further testament to the quality of the manufacture movement found within the case.
In the past, a hacking seconds would have been a prerequisite for observation watches designed for military use and this watch conforms to this tradition.
I have a strong affection for both German and Swiss watches. To admire the horological produce of one nation should not be to the exclusion of watches which originate elsewhere. For example I like to drink Margaux but I am also partial to a glass of Barolo, both wines are of excellent quality.
Glashütte is synonymous with exquisite styling, refined detailing, exemplary craftsmanship. They present watches which do not shout but sing. They evoke emotions which come from observation of purity of form which is not pretentious but speaks of simple perfection. Whilst watches originating from Glashütte have always had a reputation for quality, reliability and handsome styling there is so much more to be appreciated in their elegance and eschewing of extraneous detail. The Glashütte Original Senator Observer harnesses all of these attributes in a neoteric form.
The watch is faithful to this history of German deck watches but it is the way it communicates with the wearer, enunciating the passage of time in a graceful manner which I admire the most.
- Model: Glashütte Original Senator Observer
Reference: 100-14-05-02-04 (varnish silver grainé); 100-14-02-02-04 (varnish grey grainé)
- Case: stainless steel; diameter 44.00 mm; height 12.00 mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and rear.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; power reserve; panorama date.
- Movement: Caliber 100-14, self-winding; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); 60 jewels; power reserve 55 hours.
- Strap: Louisiana-Alligator leather, also avaiable with calfskin strap or with metal bracelet