Deep Dive

A closer look at Glashütte Original's Panorama Date

How the little big complication Panorama Date showcases its appeal in different models of Glashütte Original
If there was ever a story about determination in the watchmaking industry, it can be found in the German town of Glashütte. Located about 30 kilometres outside Dresden, the Saxon state capital, it became a haven for watchmakers around 1845. Supported by the Kingdom of Saxony, the watchmaking activities saw tremendous growth, and in 1878, the German School of Watchmaking Glashütte was founded. This prosperity was greatly compromised by both World Wars, and after the last, Glashütte ended up behind the Iron Curtain. With all manufacturers being state-owned, watchmaking in Glashütte was in survival mode, producing mainly very basic watches. A breath of fresh air came when the Berlin Wall fell, and Germany unified once again. For Glashütte, this meant they could claim their former glory again, something that they did with resilience and tenacity. Several of the state-owned workshops were combined and registered on October 16, 1990, as Glashütte Uhrenbetrieb GmbH, which became Glashütte Original.

The manufacture of Glashütte Original

The Spirit of Tradition
To reclaim the outstanding reputation that watches from Glashütte once had, a tremendous amount of work needed to be done. While time essentially stood still in what was then East Germany, watch manufacturers in other parts of the world fully developed themselves. For Glashütte Original, it meant reinventing itself. The first thing that it did was create a new generation of movements, honouring the beginning of German watchmaking and fitted with specific features, such as the traditional three-quarter plate.

Watchmaking in progress

While old traditions were honored, new ones were introduced to strengthen the DNA of Glashütte Original further. Most noticeable was the launch of the Panorama Date in 1997. This oversized date display consisted of two discs that were placed right next to each other at the same height. What may sound easy is quite the accomplishment, as the discs only have a 0.06-mm gap between them. With such precise tolerances, there is no room for error. This makes even the colour coating, or galvanisation process something that must be executed with the utmost precision. When this layer is too thick, it can directly affect how the discs operate. The movements of the discs also must be very precise, not only to ensure that both numerals are shown nicely next to each other but also because any deviation can very quickly result in friction between the discs, with all the negative side effects that comes with this. One of the main benefits of conquering these challenges is that it allows Glashütte Original to go without a bar between the two numerals, as there is no difference in height that needs to be hidden. This meant that the Panorama Date offered increased legibility and became a signature aesthetic treat.

The Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer

Modest Beginnings
The beginning of the Panorama Date was relatively modest, with Glashütte Original launching it in a single model of its signature Senator collection. As the brand got more comfortable with this challenging complication, it expanded it as a unique feature to enhance its most exceptional watches. Its perpetual calendar was the next to feature the Panorama Date. As the next millennium approached, this unique complication made its way into all the collections of Glashütte Original. Today, it is the highlight of the Pano Collection, but it can still be found in quite a few of the Senator models and plays an essential role in the Spezialist, Vintage, and Ladies’ collections. 

The Panorama Date in the Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date

The Consistency of a Concept
For Glashütte Original, the Panorama Date is now part of its core identity, but it is not a feature it forces upon all its models. It still needs to add something to the watch as a whole. For that reason, it is also quite particular in the way that it integrates it into the overall design. For the PanoMatic Luna, part of the Ladies’ collection, it opted for an oval window surrounding the date, as this more suited the softer lines of the design of these watches. In the Vintage and Spezialist collections, the Panorama Date takes on a bolder role, in which Glashütte Original often goes through the trouble of making the background of the date wheels the same as that of the dial. This gives the watches an extra sense of sophistication.

With the PanoMatic Luna, the Panorama Date shows its elegant side

As might be already expected from its name, the Panorama Date gets centrestage in the Pano collection. Glashütte Original opted here, for most models, for an asymmetrical design. This highlights in a natural way the charismatic date display. For the PanoMaticCounter XL, Glashütte Original also utilises the technology developed for the Panorama Date in an additional way. This watch is next to a flyback chronograph, equipped with a counter function in which you can manually count forward and backward from 0 to 99. This feature can be used for a wide variety of different activities. It also underscores the impact that the Panorama Date, and its technology, has had on the development of Glashütte Original. With a quarter of a century and counting, it will be interesting to see where it will bring the brand next.

This story first appeared in WatchTime US and was then featured in the April-June 2023 issue of WatchTime India 

Images: Courtesy Glashütte Original

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