Hands-On with the Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Blue, a Top of the Line, Time-Only Watch

The Senator Chronometer boasts a well conceived, highly finished movement designed for precise time setting.
Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Blue 3

The Senator Chronometer is a simple watch, showing only the time and date, but executed with excellence. And at Baselworld 2016 Glashütte Original gave the Senator Chronometer a new, dark blue dial with an intriguingly iridescent grained finish, giving it a more modern feel.

Inspired by marine chronometers, the Senator Chronometer is looks like one, with a dial design typical of a ship’s chronometer. It’s almost symmetrical save for the oversized date at three o’clock. What makes this version different from the original is the new blue dial.

The spade hands are 18k white gold

Since Glashütte Original acquired its own dial factory in Pforzheim, a city near the Black Forest known for its jewellers, the watchmaker has been experimenting with bold dial colours and finishes, most obviously with the psychedelic Sixties Iconic watches.

The Senator Chronometer in blue doesn’t go quite that far, but the dial finish is unusual, having a fine, grained texture as well as being surprisingly glittery up close. And the date discs are the same shade of blue, though the lack the texture of the dial.

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Calibre 58-01

The highlight of the watch, however, is not the new dial, but the calibre 58-01 inside. Hand-wound with a 45-hour power reserve – and made in-house like all Glashütte Original movements – the calibre 58-01 has two admirable features designed for precision time-setting.

The first is the zero-reset hack seconds; pull the crown to set the time and the seconds hand stops and returns to 12 o’clock. It’s a useful feature but also used by other brands, including Lange and Panerai. More interesting is detent minute setting.

That refers to the minute hand that moves in exact, one-minute steps when the time is being set, ensuring the seconds and minute are in sync. The novel feature is useful, though the crispness of the minute setting varies across samples of the Senator Chronometer.

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A downside to the complex setting mechanism is the relegation of the date setting to a pusher located at four o’clock, as it cannot be set via the crown. This means a stylus or toothpick is needed to advance the date.

Another notable feature of the movement are the planetary gears on the barrel that translate the mainspring’s state of wind into the power reserve indication on the front. The gears sit below a flat polished, three-armed wheel that reveals itself to be carefully and beautifully finished up close.

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The finishing on the rest of the movement is similarly impressive, most notably the neat perlage on the base plate and the solarisation on the winding ratchet wheel. Perhaps the only area the movement is noticeably lacking is the striping on the three-quarter plate, which is narrow and pronounced, being done by machine.

Other details on the movement are typical of Glashütte Original’s movements (and also other calibres made in the same town). They include the jewels set in gold chatons, hand-engraved balance cock as well as the three-quarter plate.

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Not only is the Senator Chronometer inspired by marine chronometers with features to match, the watch is chronometer certified by the state offices for weights and measurements of Thuringia (LMET) and Saxony (SLME), state government agencies that conduct testing and certification for industry.

Watches are tested to chronometer standards set by the Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V. (DIN), the national institute that sets technical standards across Germany, identical to the ISO criteria used by COSC. But unlike COSC, German chronometer trials test the entire wristwatch and not just a movement, making it a better approximation of the watch on the wrist.

The calibre 58-01 is the same movement used in the original Senator Chronometer, as is the largish, 42mm watch case. Stepped and relatively narrow, the bezel makes the watch appear larger than it is. Add to that the 12.3mm case height, and the Senator Chronometer is a substantial watch.

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Pricing and availability 

Available only in white gold, the Senator Chronometer in blue is priced at US$32,200 or S$50,000. It’s available at Glashütte Original retailers and boutiques.

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