As it has become abundantly clear from our previous features — an introduction to the new SeaQ and SeaQ Panorama Date, and our deep dive into Glashütte Original’s testing and quality control procedures — there is little in the watchmaking food chain that the brand isn’t heavily invested in keeping tight controls over. Though this has been clear since the very beginnings, their investment in dial making further cemented this starting in 2006 when the Swatch Group acquired the dial supplier of Glashütte Original. By 2012, the facility’s production became exclusive to Glashütte Original, and renovations (completed in 2013) were undertaken to be able to further support the brand’s growing requirements.
Their abilities continue to expand over time, as has been showcased in past and present editions of the Vintage collection, and a closer look at the dials of the SeaQ and SeaQ Panorama Date proves that the brand’s focus on quality remains firmly intact. Though these are tool watches, the manufacturing practices involved in creating their dials are no different than those seen on dressier pieces like the PanoMaticLunar or Senator Cosmopolite. There are a handful of similarities, as well as some distinct differences when it comes to how the SeaQ and SeaQ Panorama Date dials are executed, as you’ll see in the breakdown below.
In the case of all variations of the SeaQ, the first phases of dial production are the same. First, the dial blank is stamped in accordance with its requisite holes/openings. The Panorama Date window is revealed as part of the stamping process, as is the standard date window for the regular SeaQ model. In the case of the Panorama Date, tiny pinholes are drilled as a means of later affixing its applied indices.
Though the dial of the original Spezimatic Type RP TS 200 has a gloss finish, the brand opted for a sunray finish for the new models. This choice of finish, while not a carryover from the original, is certainly fitting for a new release whose roots go back to the late ’60s. To create this finish, the dials are run through a machine with a vertically mounted brass brush to create this effect.
Once the desired effect is created, it’s onto the galvanization process in either black or blue depending on the reference in question.
The dialmakers need a great deal of experience and sustained concentration in order to produce identical results, with the same high quality reproduced across the entire edition. Once the dials have been rinsed in clear water and dried, they are ready for the application of numerals, indexes, the logo, lettering and additional details.
Given that the goal with the SeaQ was to create a more true-to-original recreation of the Spezimatic Type RP TS 200, its indices are applied using more ‘period correct’ practices. For the smaller SeaQ models, the numerals and index lines are first applied to the dial in a light primer color, using a method called pad printing. To do this, a specially formulated printing ink is applied to a plate, which has the requisite details for the dial etched into its surface. A soft rubber pad (also called a tampon) picks up the ink from an etched plate (or cliché), and impresses it with exceptional precision onto the surface of the dial.
The same process, using white printing ink this time, is then performed for all the other details, including the minute track and dial text — as pictured below on the sold-out limited edition SeaQ 1969.
In addition to this human touch, the finished detail of the SeaQ’s dial — the application of ‘Old Radium’ colored luminous material — is another task completed by hand. That’s right; the precise painting of the lumed numerals is completed dial by dial by skilled workers within the Pforzheim facility.
When it comes to the applied numerals fitted on the SeaQ Panorama Date, this is once again a ‘hands-on’ process. After the necessary items are printed onto the dial, each of the highly polished lume-filled indices is fitted into the dial by workers who gently guide the pin-sized feet of the indices through the tiny holes made in the drilling process.
While, for the SeaQ Panorama Date, the logo, lettering and minute ring are also added using the pad printing technique mentioned above, the numeral and index appliques are mounted by hand. These appliques are also inlaid with Super-LumiNova luminous coating – in this case, in bright green for the black dials and white on the blue dials.
Once installed, said pins are delicately soldered to the back of the dial plate to ensure they remain permanently affixed in the correct position.
This is effectively the final step of the process before the dials pass final inspection, clear quality control, and are sent off to Glashütte to join the watch assembly process.