The Teutonic Take on Nostalgia

Belgian chocolates. Italian sports cars. German watches— wait, what?

Teutonic timepieces might not have the same instant recognition as their Swiss counterparts, but that’s not to say that German watchmakers haven’t earned significant respect in the horological world. Consider that the first wristwatch came from Abraham-Louis Breguet, who was born in the German state of Prussia. Or that the O.G. inventor of the watch is widely considered to be Nuremberg-born Peter Henlein, who made the first “clock-watches” in Germany way back in the early 1500s.

Though Glashütte Original’s current ownership falls under The Swatch Group, it origins date back to 1845 in the eponymous German city that now calls itself home to 8 other watchmaking brands. Despite the Swiss ownership, Glashütte Original maintains its headquarters in the city it’s named after.

Given the brand’s German heritage, it was with great curiosity I unboxed one of their newest releases, the Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date. As is the case with many of the region’s watchmakers, Glashütte’s finishes are rather exquisite, combining subtle finish and texture contrasts that lend the rounded steel case a feeling of depth and substance.
Watch Analog watch Clock Measuring instrument Plant

Not knowing which version I was to receive, I was pleasantly relieved to find my preferred color combo within the unremarkable packaging: the Fab Green dial tied together with the a brown calfskin strap. Nothing personal against the Galvanized Blue option with its sunburst dial, but I find the verdant version’s dégradé effect more subtle and striking. Incidenally, two new colors have since been added to the repertoire: a Tiffany-like Disco Blue, and a bold Vibing Orange.
Watch Analog watch Clock Everyday carry Watch accessory

All Seventies chronos flank the screwed crown with two angled pushers. Despite the dial hosting some deep functionality— a stop second chronograph, 30 minute counter, 12-hour counter, a power reserve display, and of course the panorama date that’s embedded into the model name— it manages to avoid looking busy. The white indices, black accents, matte lacquered green background all play nicely with each other, framed by a case with varying levels of polish. Incidentally, this is the first watch in the Seventies lineup to incorporate Super-LumiNova coated hands.

On my smallish wrist, the 40mm x 40mm case doesn’t feel too bulky, at least from an overhead view: the calfskin strap’s meeting point with the case is rather streamlined, and tapers nicely into a 26mm end link. On the other hand, I did find the case’s 14.1mm height a tad tall for my wrist, a feature that’s more noticeable when viewed in profile. As I lived with the timepiece for several weeks, I also noticed while the strap’s plush softness felt luxurious, it seemed a bit delicate and would likely become worn down somewhat quickly due to its lighter color and delicate texture.
Watch Wheel Land vehicle Car Tire

As luck would have it, part of my loan coincided with a media trip to visit Bugatti headquarters. The brand’s HQs happen to be situated in the Alsace region of France, just a 3-hour drive from Glashütte’s homebase— faster if you zoom through Germany’s stretches of speed limit-free autobahn. Bugatti has their own partnership with NYC-based Jacob & Co, though I’d respectfully argue that any of the 9 watchmakers based in Glashütte’s home town would be equally fitting for the storied carmaker’s brand thanks to their focus on finely finished details and obsessive engineering. Sure, it’s a challenge for almost any timepiece to feel completely at home against the extremes of the hide and carbon-lined, $4M Bugatti Chiron Super Sport I tested in Molsheim. But considering its subtly finished surfaces and thoughtful detailing, the Seventies chrono holds its own against the imperious shock-and-awe of the 16-cylinder, quad-turbocharged, 1,577 horsepower Bugatti.
Watch Speedometer Motor vehicle Light Wheel

Come to think of it, the Glashütte might have stood a better chance against the Bugatti’s outrageousness had it been worn backwards: the Seventies’ in-house Calibre 37-02 movement is a gorgeous bit of finery, showing off a skeletonized rotor with a 21-carat gold oscillation weight through a display back. The movement operates at 28,800 vph, and claims an impressive 70-hour power reserve. Pretty details include polished and blued screws, and a stripe-finished three-quarter plate. I was afforded another chance for compare and contrast when I followed up the trip to Molsheim with a visit to Idaho for a 200+ mph runs with McLaren at the Sun Valley Tour de Force, a fundraiser event where a stretch of highway is closed for legal top-speed runs.
Watch Analog watch Silver Clock Watch accessory

Against McLaren’s starkly minimalist carbon and Alcantara interiors, the Panorama Date feels all the more ornate, though still not quite at home in this supercar’s cabin. Yet another contrast came during a photo shoot with the new Meyers Manx 2.0, a new electrified expression of the classic Manx dune buggy. Sure, the Panorama Dates hue looked great against the show model’s Oak Green Metallic paint, but it still wasn’t quite the right pair up. Perhaps the piece might have been best matched to a high-dollar German sedan, like the V12-powered Mercedes-Maybach S 680. There’s always next time.
Watch Hand Plant Arm Analog watch

Putting the Panorama Date through differing environments (and a variety of vehicles) made me wonder how it might fit within an enthusiast’s collection— a consideration which kept taking me back to the word enthusiast. Unlike more somber pieces with monochromatic schemes and conventional design cues, this Glashütte harkens to the retro character of the disco era while incorporating a bit of style through the evocatively tinted green face. The mood gets more fun with the new orange and blue options.

But as timepieces go, there’s enough functionality and design maturity in Glashütte’s efforts to avoid feeling too fashioney or frivolous. There’s still a certain amount of specificity to this watch’s style, a touch of novelty that keeps it becoming classified as a wristwatch for all occasions. But that’s also the beauty in such a harmoniously, yet charismatically designed piece. It’s enough to inspire you to perhaps let go of those familiar pre-conceived notions about German industrial design, and just go with it.

Price: $13,400