Working On the Basics
The Glashütte Original Senator Excellence not only has a new face but also a completely new movement that will be the basis for the brand’s future timepieces.
— Glashütte Original’s new automatic Caliber GUB 36 could be described as “simple yet difficult to make.” e movement focuses on one essential task: indicating the correct time. Hours, minutes, seconds. Nothing more. No panoramic date display, no Glashütte-style “Auf und Ab” (up and down) indicator for the remaining power reserve, nothing else. What, then, could be so difficult?
When the watchmakers and engineers at Glashütte Original set out to develop a new watch movement, they focused on stability, precision, a long power reserve and an appealing aesthetic. Translating these requirements into ticking reality took a full three years. e result is a movement that links together 179 individual parts, including an automatic rotor that tightens the mainspring in both its directions of rotation and works in tandem with a reduction gear that simultaneously accomplishes the task ordinarily assigned to a retaining pawl. e rotations of the self-winding system refuel a 100-hour power reserve. A single barrel stores all of this potential energy and gradually transfers it, via a totally newly calculated gear train, to the escapement, which has a balance and a silicon hairspring that oscillate at a pace of 4 Hz. Hats off. We’re impressed.
e developers chose 28,800 vph as the frequency for their new caliber. A so-called “fast oscillator” demands more energy than, say, a 3-Hz movement, so the engineers also had to design a correspondingly large barrel. And the com-
pany wasn’t content with an ordinary power reserve of just two days. e sizable barrel nearly fills the entire radius of the caliber. Furthermore, the spring core is very small, so the barrel can accommodate a mainspring with more windings and a length of 68 centimeters. is is the first time Glashütte Original has achieved a power reserve of 100 hours for a movement with a frequency of 4 Hz – an impressive combination that is rarely encountered in the watch world.
The length of this power reserve not only demonstrates skillful contemporary watchmaking; it also offers greater convenience for the watch’s owner, who can leave his Senator Excellence unworn over a three-day weekend and find it still ticking when Tuesday morning rolls around. Furthermore, the rate remains stable while the barrel’s store of power declines, a steadiness that we confirmed in our rate test. We examined the Senator Excellence first when it was fully wound and again after it had been allowed to run for 24 hours without a fill-up. Our electronic timing machine measured only slight deviations and similarly negligible differences among the several positions. e amplitudes sink by 20 degrees of arc in the course of a day. Glashütte Original guarantees that the Senator Excellence will run with chronometer-worthy precision for up to 72 hours: During this interval, the amplitudes remain on approximately the same level as they do after the watch has run for 24 hours, and they decline only slightly after 72 hours have expired.
Of course, if the watch is worn regularly, the bidirectionally active automatic winding system assures that the mainspring is always in the optimally wound range. is, in turn, guarantees that the rate remains steady. e short span of time available for us to test this model unfortunately made it impossible for us to conduct our own empirical test on the wrist, but the record of a three-month examination performed in Glashütte shows that the watch deviated from perfect timekeeping by an average of 1.7 seconds per day. is performance more or less matches the “snapshot” we took with our timing machine.