iW Magazine

On the Wrist

Hands-On: Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Regulator

By Tim Mosso

Glashütte Original is German, and the 171 year-old firm offers its chronometers with a certification from the domestic Deutsche Kalibrierdienst (DKD) to hammer-home the point. The Senator Chronometer Regulator appeals to contrarians with a combination of style and substance that's as unique as its chronometer LMET/SLME certificate.

G.O. commenced its recent run of Teutonic chronometers with the 2009 Baselworld launch of the Senator Chronometer and its manufacture "Caliber 58." In 2013, the subject of this feature, the Senator Chronometer, bowed as a anachronistic variation on the original concept. Still bearing the blessing of the DKD, the Chronometer Regulator's separate hours, minutes, and seconds dials pays deference to the "regulator" or "mother" clocks used by past watchmakers to set precisely those timepieces in service centers.

The 42mm white gold case of the Regulator features an engaging combination of satin and polished surfaces that articulate its mass of precious metal. While larger than a traditional 35-38mm dress watch, the Chronometer Regulator wears its mass with class, and a compact 12mm thickness ensures viability within the higher confines of dress sleeves or formal cuffs. The lugs diminish with an elegant taper, and a subtle step to the bezel provides welcome nuance.

Glashütte Original employs a unique dial finishing method variously described by the manufacture as satin varnish and lacquer, but each completed dial executed in this style requires multiple passes of the lacquer appliqué in order to achieve the final granular effect. Of note, the use of lacquer to attain a textured matte finish is a rare approach to dial craft scarcely seen outside of the Glashütte Original product line.

The regulator dial accommodates three separate time displays, a power reserve at three o'clock, a "panoramic" date, Arabic, and Roman numerals - without appearing crowded. Each of the sub registers for the time displays features a galvanized set of black calibrations, and the cobalt blue hands provide a graceful measure of relief from the dominant grayscale scheme of the watch.

Beneath the dial, the Senator Chronometer Regulator employs a variation on the in-house caliber 58 seen on the original 2009 model. This iteration, dubbed GUB 58-04, retains the base caliber's 44-hour power reserve, 4Hz beat, and unique "zero reset" synchronization feature. The latter deserves special mention.

Glashütte Original product planners reasoned that a chronometer-grade watch should be simple to set with precision. The Chronometer Regulator employs a hacking (stop seconds) mechanism in tandem with a system that pegs the seconds hand to "0" and instantly advances them minute hand precisely to the next whole minute index on the dial. Thusly synched, the balance can be released as soon as the user's reference timer crosses the threshold of the next whole minute.

Function aside, Glashütte's artisans distinguish the caliber 58-04 with a dazzling array of esthetic flourishes. Most, elements, including the hand-engraved balance cock, Glashutte stripes, 3/4-style bridge, and train jewels set in screw-fixed gold chatons, are loving tributes to Glashütte Original's pre-WWII roots as a pocket watch specialist. A swan's neck fine-adjustment regulator, polished escape wheel cover, and the skeletonized planetary reduction gear over the mainspring barrel enhance the Chronometer Regulator's sense of occasion and craft input. Put simply, it's evident that a (skilled) human being was here; few creative measures mean more to fervent watch collectors.

And the Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Regulator deserves the attention of collectors. While life amid the mammoths of the Swatch Group can cause an occasional eclipse of its smaller members, quality ultimately asserts itself in the hearts and minds of those who venture beyond the mai watch with character and substance. The proudly German Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Regulator is made for that breed of collector.