Glashütte Original

Glashütte Original is a prestigious watch manufacturing company based in the historical town of Glashütte, Germany. The origins of Glashütte watchmaking tradition dates back to 1845, when Ferdinand Adolphe Lange established his watch firm in Glashütte.

The Philosophy
Glashütte Original is about the pleasure of wearing elegant and exclusive mechanical watches, beautifully manufactured to the strictest German quality standards. This philosophy finds expression in the values of manufacture production, handed down through the generations to the master watchmakers of today. From the smallest screw to the most complicated movement, timepieces from Glashütte Original are manufactured in the highest degree of production depth, with a great deal of work done by hand.

Glashütte Original’s reputation for excellence is based on outstanding watchmaking expertise, technical perfection, and timeless elegance. It stands on four pillars, four groups of watches whose superb movements are presented indistinctive, refined aesthetics.

The first watches made in Glashütte date to the year 1845. Today Glashütte Original’s watches represent the “quintessence” of the craft of watchmaking in Glashütte: classical yet original movements beautifully realized with keen attention to detail and to the strictest quality standards and specifications.

The clean lines, balance and purity of the elements reflect a classic, minimalist restraint. Here, too, are exemplary features of the high art of watchmaking in Glashütte, from the three quarter plate to the swan-neck fine adjustment, screw-mounted gold chatons and the traditional Glashütte striped finish. Masterpieces in this class include Senator Chronometer, PanoInverse XL and Senator Automatic.
Art & Technik refers to the worldwide reputation for excellence enjoyed by German technology and manufacturing, combined with characteristic design aesthetics that give watches from Glashütte Original an unmistakably German and distinguished look and feel.

The German word “Technik” evokes a combination of expertise, rare skills and craftsmanship, an alliance that remains characteristic of the watchmaker’s craft as it is practiced at Glashütte Original. Each of the watches in this class is an expression of our quest for the perfect union of mechanical complications and art. PanoMaticCounter XL, Senator Diary and Senator Perpetual Calendar belong to this extraordinary group.

20th Century Vintage watches, evocative of three dynamic periods in the last century, invariably generate a powerful emotional response. Through the “Sixties” collection, the brand offers its own interpretation of those most peculiar, creative and revolutionary years. It was a decade that changed the world in many ways, through its ideals, its music, its architecture and design. Its strong character and unmistakable lines are immediately recognizable. The “Seventies” watches evoke the characteristic look and feel of the decade with conscious references to outstanding design from the period. The styling of “Navigator” timepieces is a tribute to watches that were made in Glashütte to fit airmen’s needs and wrists. They are a tribute a time when flying a plane was a thrilling adventure, a challenge to courageous, pioneering spirits. Among the most sought-after of these watches are Sixties Panorama Date, Seventies Panorama Date and Senator Navigator WorldView.

Ladies Collection watches represent Glashütte Original’s aesthetic project, an effort to transcend the look, the material, and the precious stones to create a work of art. It is a matter of inner beauty and outer beauty. Timepieces in this collection speak to self-assured women of style and substance.

The Manufactory
More than 165 years ago the first master watchmakers settled in Glashütte/Saxony. Over the years, respect for tradition, infinite patience, and incomparable watchmaking expertise have enabled the town’s noted watchmakers to achieve unparalleled success. There is no better expression of these time-honoured values than the Glashütte Original manufactory. The term refers to watchmaking firms that design and manufacture their own movements, and Glashütte Original’s ability to do so places it squarely among the elite of the world’s mechanical watchmakers.

The Glashütte Original manufactory brings the finest in watchmaking traditions together and combines them, under one roof, with the most advanced of contemporary materials and production technologies. In-house design and manufacture of thousands of precision components ensure that each of the exquisite mechanical movements meets the highest possible standards of quality.

The making of a high-end mechanical watch from Glashütte Original begins with a collective brainstorming session. Initial ideas are worked up in the product planning and design department and elaborated using computer-assisted design software. Even a relatively uncomplicated mechanical movement has hundreds of individual components, and Glashütte Original’s watchmakers make use of a broad range of advanced tools and production technologies to make them. Enormous added value accrues through painstaking aesthetic refinement of the components, which are delicately finished, lavishly engraved and galvanized before a master watchmaker assembles them, patiently and with great precision. Even the simplest of Glashütte Original movements requires several hours to assemble. More elaborate movements with the most intricate and intriguing of complications – the Senator Diary or the PanoMatic Counter, for example – demand the dedicated attention of a master watchmaker for up to twenty working days.

Following assembly, all Glashütte Original watches are thoroughly examined and tested to ensure they meet the most exacting standards for rate precision, water resistance, shock resistance, and numerous other properties. Only at the end of this rigorous process may a watch from Glashütte Original be considered complete.

Every weekday, a guide welcomes visitors to the Glashütte Original manufactory, leading the way from a spacious reception area to a light and airy atrium, where original artefacts from the watchmaking trade, photographs and historical documents present evidence of the rich and fascinating history of the craft. From there the tour takes visitors through the process of making a high-end mechanical watch.

A walk along the manufactory’s “learning path” reveals the extraordinary complexity of what goes on behind the scenes. Visitors stop for a closer look at different stages of a process that begins with ideas, sketches and brainstorming sessions and ends with the delivery of a mechanical masterpiece into the hands of its proud new owner.

They observe from close range the ‘finishing’ of individual components – heat treatments, galvanization, polishing and engraving by hand – and emerge equipped to easily recognize such distinctive features of Glashütte Original watches as the three-quarter plate with the characteristic Glashütte striped finish, a variety of galvanized surfaces, polished steel components, screw-mounted gold chatons, blued screws, bevelled component edges, handengraved decorations, and such distinctive components as the single or double swan-neck fine adjustment.

Upon leaving the manufactory, visitors have a better understanding of the complex and extremely labour-intensive process that is watchmaking today. Appreciative of the “labour of love” embodied in each and every watch from Glashütte Original, they may wish to take a closer look at individual masterpieces on display in the manufactory’s own boutique.

Dial Production Facility
Glashütte Original has a dedicated new building in Pforzheim for production of sophisticated dials. On March 6, 2013, Günter Wiegand, Managing Director of Glashütte Original, presided over the opening of a modern factory in Pforzheim, Germany, for the manufactory’s own production of watch dials.

Following substantial investments the dial manufactory at Stuttgarter Straße 24 is equipped with advanced machinery dedicated to the production of watch dials; nevertheless, as in the past, a great deal of the work is still performed by hand.

Since mid 2006, the dial manufactory has been owned by the Swatch Group; at the outset of 2012 it was merged with the Glashütte Original manufactory. Given the limited space and plans to expand production, Glashütte Original management decided to restructure and modernise the old dial factory. The Glashütte Original dial manufactory is one of the few to produce its own blanks. Depending on the dial, the blanks are made of such noble materials as yellow gold, white gold, sterling silver or mother of pearl. On average, dials are only 0.8 mm thick. Special editions such as dials made of fragile mother of pearl generally consist of a 0.4 mm base plate and a 0.4 mm layer of organic material affixed to it.

Most of the work involved in making a dial is performed by hand, whether this is the application of appliques or monitoring of finishings. The blue dials of the Seventies Panorama Date, for example, are given a sunburst finish, which is applied using rotating brass brushes. Colour is then added to the dial using a varnish (lacquer) or galvanization process. The colours applied in this way are then fired in an oven for two hours at temperatures ranging from 110 to 140 degrees centigrade.

One of the most difficult steps in the process demands many years of experience: printing. With some dials such as that for the Senator Observer, the indexes and numerals are printed rather than applied. This is done using what is known as „pad printing“. The pad takes up ink from an engraved negative and then transfers it, like a rubber stamp, to the dial. Before a dial is finished it must pass six quality tests. Altogether a dial, with its numerous details, is the object of some 75 separate operations before it is considered complete and qualified to serve as the face of a Glashütte Original timepiece.

The Restoration Workshop
For more than 165 years, Glashütte has been a centre of fine German watchmaking. Today the town is renowned as the home of Glashütte Original and its watchmaking school. The German Watch Museum Glashütte, too, co-founded by Glashütte Original and the town of Glashütte, attracts thousands of visitors every year. After touring the modern and interactive exhibition, visitors pass a further highlight of the museum: the restoration workshop of Glashütte Original. Here, guests are offered an unobstructed view of watchmakers’ workbenches, tools, and watchmakers at work, all of whom are highly qualified employees of Glashϋtte Original.

These master craftsmen have a special task. They repair and restore historic timepieces – old clocks and watches manufactured in the town of Glashütte since the middle of the 19th century. Their precious expertise serves the German Watch Museum, of course, but is also available as a service to private owners of wrist- and pocket watches, precision pendulum clocks or marine chronometers made by various famous Glashütte watch manufacturers such as Julius Assmann, Adolf Schneider, Strasser & Rohde or Paul Stübner, to name just a few.

The unique expertise and value of the Glashütte Original Restoration Workshop is evident in the fascinating story of a rare precision pendulum clock discovered in the astronomical observatory in Qingdao, China, where it had served for more than fifty years and was in dire need of repair. As the rightful heir to Glashütte’s long history in watchmaking, Glashütte Original agreed to inspect, restore and repair the clock and had it shipped to Glashütte for that purpose. There, Glashütte Original’s expert restoration team undertook repairs and a complete overhaul of the historic timepiece, manufactured in Glashütte by the noted firm of Strasser & Rohde in the 1950s. It took the specialists ten months to restore the Qingdao gem to its former beauty; all of the components and individual parts, including the wheels, hands, dial, pendulum and wooden case were lovingly repaired or carefully reproduced.

On completion of the work, the clock was carefully packed and shipped to China, first to Shanghai and subsequently to Qingdao. It was accompanied by the expert watchmaker who was responsible for its repair and would ensure proper regulation of the heavy pendulum on arrival. The rare timepiece was ceremoniously returned in 2010 to the Qingdao Observatory, where today it serves as a witness to history and the fine art of mechanical timekeeping.

Nicolas G. Hayek Foundation
Named after the founder and former president of the Swatch Group, Nicolas G. Hayek, the non-profit foundation is dedicated to matters of art, culture, science, research and education in the field of watchmaking. It was established on 16 March, 2006 by the town of Glashütte and the watch manufactory Glashütte Original. Two years later, on May 22, 2008, the German Watch Museum Glashütte opened its doors to the public.

The stated mission of the German Watch Museum Glashütte – Nicolas G. Hayek Foundation is to preserve the cultural heritage of Glashütte, to promote the arts and to encourage specialized science and research associated with the fine art of watchmaking. Through the use of the museum, an exhibition work area, a specialist technical library, an extensive archive as well as various other projects and activities, the foundation ensures that its unique and unparalleled collection is maintained and will continue to be made available to the general public.

The German Watch Museum Glashütte
Glashütte has been an important centre of German watchmaking for more than 165 years. Throughout the years, the small town south of Dresden has been a synonym for the highest quality, precision, and luxury “Made in Germany”.

In order to convey the rich history of the town and to preserve its cultural heritage, the manufactory Glashütte Original and the town of Glashütte established together the “German Watch Museum Glashütte – Nicolas G. Hayek” Foundation.

The modern museum occupies two floors of an impressive building erected in the late 19th century to house Glashütte’s first school for watchmakers, founded by Moritz Grossmann in 1878. Glashütte Original and the Swatch Group undertook renovation of the building, and today the historic site welcomes visitors from all over the world who wish to engage with the history of watchmaking in Glashütte.

In line with the exhibition’s motto “The Fascination of Time – Bringing Time to Life”, the museum presents more than 400 unique exhibits chosen to illustrate the history of watchmaking in Glashütte from the 1840s to the present day. Various interactive displays and exhibits help to bring this world to life as visitors examine Glashütte pocket watches, wristwatches and pendulum clocks from different periods, marine chronometers and escapement models, historical certificates and patents, tools and workbenches as well as astronomical models and metronomes.

Thematically, the exhibition is composed of a series of “Historical Rooms” and “Time Rooms”, all framed by a prologue and an epilogue.

The “Historical Rooms” establish the chronological context of the watchmaking town and present, at the outset, the famous figures and founding fathers who made Glashütte an important centre of fine German watchmaking and watchmaker training. Throughout the exhibition, other periods which were definitive in the establishment of Glashütte are presented, such as the Wilhelminian Period, the First and Second World Wars, the era of expropriation, as well as German reunification and new beginnings.

The “Time Rooms” break up the chronological progression of the history of watchmaking in Glashütte and transport visitors into, for example, the microcosm of a mechanical watch. In this way, visitors can experience for themselves the precision and the interplay of hundreds of individual parts. They can also make independent discoveries in another multimedia room, which contains a detailed interactive glossary of chronometry.

As a modern and experience-orientated time-world, the museum is designed to appeal not only to watch enthusiasts but is also consciously orientated to the general public, families and young people.

The Alfred Helwig School of Watchmaking
Long before the term “knowledge economy“ was coined in the 20th century, a perceptive watchmaker by the name of Moritz Grossmann recognized the fundamental role played by expert knowledge in the industry he knew best. A master watchmaker, Grossmann helped establish the industry in Glashütte and saw the Saxon town transformed into the centre of watchmaking in Germany.

As the industry grew and flourished, he became convinced that the future of Glashütte depended on its ability to ensure a continuing supply of qualified watchmakers. Thanks largely to his efforts; Germany’s first watchmaking school was established in Glashütte on May 1, 1878.

The German School of Watchmaking of Glashütte, which remained operational for more than 114 years, helped sustain the industry through rapid growth and also helped it survive in more difficult times. Throughout, one crucial fact remained unchanged: watchmaking was and still is a knowledge-based industry in which the watchmaker’s expertise, experience and rare craft skills far outweigh the importance of all other production factors. Today, as in the past, only careful recruitment and systematic training of young watchmakers can secure the knowledge on which the industry’s future depends.

In recognition of its responsibility to the heritage of German watchmaking, Glashütte Original took decisive steps to establish a contemporary school of watchmaking in Glashütte and opened the Alfred Helwig School of Watchmaking in 2002. Today, it receives hundreds of applications each year from young men and women hopeful of winning a place at the school. Of these, only fifteen are admitted to the three-year program. On completion of their theoretical and practical training, twelve will have acquired the requisite expert knowledge and skills to begin careers as watchmakers; three will have qualified as toolmakers.

In addition to intense professional training, Glashütte Original offers a substantial incentive to the applicants: all students at the school who complete their training and meet the highest standards for performance are guaranteed full-time employment.

Glashütte Original’s school of watchmaking is named after Alfred Helwig, the master watchmaker who taught for many years in the town’s first watchmaking school. It was during his time as a teacher that Alfred Helwig developed, together with his apprentices, a new, cantilevered version of the tourbillon mechanism – one of watch making’s most intriguing complications. Anchored on one side only, Helwig’s design soon came to be known as the “Flying Tourbillon“. Today, Glashütte Original’s Flying Tourbillon models pay tribute, as does the school, to this dedicated teacher and extraordinary watchmaker.

Owned and operated by Glashütte Original, the Alfred Helwig School of Watchmaking is located in the splendidly restored building that once housed the first German School of Watchmaking and that is today the home of the German Watch Museum Glashütte.

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