Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date

The Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date is based on a 1969 diver’s watch, the Spezimatic Type RP TS 200. However, while this latest addition to the German marque’s collection shares a strong likeness to the 1969 model, it shuns some of its utilitarian characteristics in favour of delightful dial details, an oversized date, a sumptuous case and impressive finishing.

Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date

During the 12th century, settlers found silver deposits near Freiberg, Saxony. This enticed various mining-related trades to relocate to the region. Most pertinently, silver bestowed huge wealth upon the state of Saxony.

Working mines are still in operation, however, the industry’s importance to the regional economy began to diminish during the 16th century. Nevertheless, the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, founded in 1765, remains in operation and is the oldest university of mining and metallurgy in the world.

With the demise of mining in the 16th century, towns such as Glashütte, within the Ore Mountains, witnessed an economic downturn and its residents became impoverished. During the 19th century, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, a watchmaker based in Dresden, solicited support from the state of Saxony, seeking help to establish a watchmaking business in the deprived town of Glashütte. In 1845, having successfully received financial support, Lange hired and trained 15 apprentice watchmakers. This was the beginning of the town’s relationship with watchmaking.

Thereafter, other luminaries of watchmaking, including Moritz Grossmann, Julius Assmann and Friedrich August Adolf Schneider relocated to Glashütte. In 1878, the town became home to the German School of Watchmaking. Alfred Helwig, a former student, master watchmaker and teacher at the Glashütte-based school, invented the ‘flying tourbillon’. This particular type of tourbillon mechanism lacked an upper bridge (1920), granting unhindered views of the cage, balance and escapement in motion. In 2002, the Alfred Helwig School of Watchmaking in Glashütte became the new German School of Watchmaking and was inaugurated and has since gained an enviable international reputation.

A new era

Glashütte’s watchmaking industry experienced a seismic shift post World War II with the advent of the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik). In 1951, those brands which survived the war were amalgamated, culminating in the formation of a state-owned firm, VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB). After Germany was reunified in 1990, the DDR became part of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland). One consequence of the DDR’s demise was the privatisation of GUB. In 2000, the company formerly known as GUB was acquired by the Swatch Group.

Today, the picturesque town of Glashütte plays host to a plethora of watch brands, including A. Lange & Söhne, Tutima, NOMOS Glashütte, Mühle-Glashütte, Moritz Grossmann, Union Glashütte, Bruno Söhnle, Wempe Glashütte I/SA and, lastly but by no means least, Glashütte Original. While there are other watch firms operating within Germany, Glashütte is unequivocally the epicentre of this nation’s watchmaking industry, a legacy of Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s entrepreneurial prowess.

The dial

Should you find yourself near Glashütte, I would strongly recommend a trip to the ‘Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Glashütte‘. This period building, which opened in 2008, houses an array of clocks and watches, some dating back to the 19th century, the period when Lange et al called Glashütte home. 

Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date

Many horophiles will associate Glashütte Original with elegant watches such as the ‘Senator’ and ‘Pano’ or retro timepieces such as the ‘Vintage’, however, the Manufactory has crafted a diverse array of models over the years. On display within the museum are an array of watches made during the DDR era. One such model is the Spezimatic Type RP TS 200 from 1969.

The Spezimatic Type RP TS 200 was intended for sports and combat use. It proffered both robustness and excellent precision and was a utilitarian object. The hours on the dial were denoted with a combination of batons (odd hours) and Arabic numerals sans serifs (even hours). The prevailing time was enunciated with bold hour and minute hands, with the latter hand endowed with a prominent tip. A central sweep seconds hand, affixed with a lollipop, and a date display at 3 o’clock completed the inventory of functions.

Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date

The Spezimatic Type RP TS 200 was the inspiration for the Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date, released last year in steel with a blue dial. This year, the Manufactory has returned with two new models, one presented in red gold and a second reference combining both stainless steel and red gold.

Despite a sizeable amount of the 1969 model’s DNA being carried over to these new models, this could not be described as a ‘copy and paste’ exercise. The shape of the hands and indexes replicate the items on the former model as does the profile of the central sweep seconds hand. The first deviation from the design of the Spezimatic Type RP TS 200 relates to the date display. The simple date disc at 3 o’clock has been supplanted with an oversized date at 4 o’clock. This latter type of display is significantly more complicated than the ubiquitous date indication found on many watches as it employs two separate discs working in harmony, augmenting readability.

Furthermore, the hands are golden and lined with crisp white Super-LumiNova. The golden tones seem far more decadent than would have been acceptable in the DDR period, however, they imbue the new models with a rich, sumptuous appearance.

Glashütte Original is a vertically integrated company, ‘producing up to 95% of all movement components as well as filigree dials in-house’. The dials are made in the company’s dial facility in Pforzheim, a city in southwestern Germany, known for making jewellery.

Once again, the German marque has set aside the utilitarian look of the Spezimatic Type RP TS 200, equipping the new Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date with galvanised dials, each enriched with a sunray finish, applied indexes and Super-LumiNova. The shade of the dial is determined by the case material. The bicolour model is endowed with a galvanised grey dial, while the gold model features a galvanised black dial. The finish of both dials exudes a high quotient of luxury and sets aside the austere aesthetics of yesteryear.

The case

The Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date measures 43.2mm in diameter and has a case thickness of 15.65mm. These dimensions are not excessive, but do grant a high quotient of masculinity and a notable wrist presence.

Both versions of the model ably fulfil the remit of a diver’s watch. They are both equipped with the obligatory unidirectional rotating bezel with a black ceramic inlay. The benefit of ceramic is that it is scratch-resistant and less susceptible to fading over time. When the bezel is rotated 360°, it clicks 60 times, once click for every minute. The bezel features a triangular index at noon.

The screw-down crown is formed of red gold and nestles between the shoulders of a crown protection device. While this specification detail imbues the watch with a sense of robustness, the watch never looks ungainly. The German marque has chosen to ignore divers’ watch convention, equipping the SeaQ Panorama Date with an exhibition case back. However, I concur with Glashütte Original’s decision as the Calibre 36-13 deserves to be admired.

Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date

Despite the SeaQ Panorama Date exhibiting a genteel character with subtle details and many refinements, it remains suitable as a professional divers’ watch. Indeed, the model meets the requirements of DIN 8306 and ISO 6425 set for divers’ watches and has a maximum water resistance of approximately 300m.

The brand from Saxony offers both the bicolour and gold models with a choice of a synthetic strap or a rubber strap. Furthermore, the consumer can choose whether the watch is supplied with a pin buckle or ‘fold fastener’. Clearly, customer choice is alive and well in post-DDR, Glashütte.

The movement

At the heart of the SeaQ Panorama Date is an exquisite automatic movement, the Calibre 36-13. This movement has been crafted in the company’s Manufactory and is exceptionally refined.

The oscillating mass is openworked, features the brand’s double G logo and includes a 21-carat gold weight. Interestingly, the gold weight runs in a trottoir, helping to mitigate the thickness of the movement. Indeed, despite the overall watch measuring 15.65mm in height, the movement is a comparatively slim 6.7mm.

A three-quarter plate is typical of prestigious watches made in Glashütte. It supplants the usual bridges and cocks typically found on Swiss watches and provides superior rigidity and stability. In this instance, both the oscillating mass and the three-quarter plate are embellished with Glashütte ribbing, similar in concept to Côtes de Genève motif, often found on high-end Swiss watches.

The balance features an index regulator, similar to many other watches. This alters the effective length of the balance spring, making the movement run faster/slower. Where the Calibre 36-13 differs from the norm is that it features swan-neck fine adjustment. This system uses a micrometer screw to fine-tune the rate. Furthermore, the swan-neck is embellished with mirror-polishing. This is the most difficult form of finishing to execute. It requires a time-served artisan to polish the component on a tin plate, lightly smeared with diamantine paste. The objective is to flatten the surface to a mirror-like gleam.

The rim of the balance wheel is equipped with four poising screws. These are similar in concept to the weights affixed to a car’s wheel after new tyres have been fitted. The poising screws are tightened or loosened to ensure the balance wheel runs true. The main plate is adorned with perlage, the three-quarter plate features anglage and blued screws abound.

While the Calibre 36-13 upholds traditional fine watchmaking practise, it also encompasses modern-day horological know-how. The hairspring is formed of silicon (silicium). This glass-like material has become increasingly popular within the watch industry in recent years as it is unaffected by magnetic fields, is not subject to corrosion, doesn’t require lubrication, can be made into elaborate shapes and is not influenced by changing temperatures.

Another remarkable aspect of this watch is its prodigious power-reserve. Assuming the watch is fully wound, it will run autonomously for up to 100 hours.

Closing remarks

I would never say that German watches are superior to Swiss watches or vice-versa, however, German watches certainly have a distinct character of their own. The three-quarter plate, swan-neck fine adjustment and Glashütte ribbing form part of this region’s horological history.

Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date

Likewise, the DDR era was a period when luxury and flamboyance were sacrificed for no-nonsense functionality. Nevertheless, during this time, there were some products which remained competitive on the world stage, such as optical lenses, cameras and, of course, watches. As I mentioned earlier, the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Glashütte is a treasure trove of horological artefacts dating back to the 19th century.

Today’s Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date may look similar to its forebears of 1969, but it is far superior in every way. The dial is beautifully appointed with sunray decoration and applied indexes, which in combination with the hands and date display, impart information in a highly intelligible form.

The presence of gold on a diver’s model may sound incompatible with the role of a tool watch intended for military or professional subaquatic use. However, divers’ watches are seldom used in anger and spend much time in the boardroom or in close proximity to the leather-clad steering wheel of a luxury car. Based on these examples, I feel obliged to ask, ‘why can’t a diver’s watch be luxurious if this is the will of the people?’ After all, as John Wanamaker once famously remarked, ‘the customer is king’.

When appraising the Calibre 36-12 movement, its quality is clear to see. Exquisite hand-finishing sits in close proximity to mechanical excellence. Contrary to many things in life, this movement shuns the notion of intrinsic obsolescence and, assuming it is regularly serviced, should survive its owner.

The terroir of Glashütte is infused with watchmaking expertise harking back to 1845. The museum, the watchmaking school and the numerous companies that operate in Glashütte uphold this legacy and provide an environment conducive to making high-end watches. Indeed, one look at the Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date demonstrates the watchmaking prowess of this German company and the extraordinary talents of its skilled workforce.

Further reading

Technical specification

  • Model: Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date
  • Reference: 1-36-13-04-91-08 (bicolour, grey synthetic strap; stainless steel buckle); 1-36-13-04-91-34 (bicolour, grey synthetic strap; fold fastener); 1-36-13-04-91-06 (bicolour, black rubber strap; stainless steel buckle); 1-36-13-04-91-33 (bicolour, black rubber strap; fold fastener)
  • Case: Stainless steel case/18-carat red gold; diameter 43.2 mm; height 15.65 mm; water resistance 30ATM (300 metres); sapphire crystal to front and exhibition caseback
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; oversized date
  • Movement: Calibre 36-13: automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 39 jewels; power reserve 100 hours
  • Strap: See above
  • Prices: £12,400 (bicolour with pin buckle – RRP as at 29.6.2020); £12,700 (bicolour with pin buckle – RRP as at 29.6.2020)

Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date

  • Model: Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date
  • Reference: 1-36-13-03-90-34 (18-carat red gold, grey synthetic strap; fold fastener); 1-36-13-03-90-33 (18-carat red gold, black rubber strap; fold fastener)
  • Case: 18-carat red gold; diameter 43.2 mm; height 15.65 mm; water resistance 30ATM (300 metres); sapphire crystal to front and exhibition caseback
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; oversized date
  • Movement: Calibre 36-13: automatic movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 39 jewels; power reserve 100 hours
  • Strap: See above
  • Price: £20,900 (18-carat red gold with gold fastener – RRP as at 29.6.2020)

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