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Glashütte Original - A tourbillon that stands to attention

Glashütte Original A tourbillon that stands to attention

When the crown is pulled out, the flying tourbillon of the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon gently returns to the 12 o’clock position and stops, so that the time can be adjusted. It’s a unique feature for a high-end timepiece.

Among its new releases for 2019, Glashütte Original introduced a little gem of a complication at Time To Move, the Swatch Group’s watch fair/event. The German brand, which enjoys its own somewhat separate status within the group’s portfolio of brands, launched the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon, a limited series of 25 in platinum. The main attraction of this certified chronometer is, of course, its tourbillon. Glashütte Original only produces flying tourbillons, the kind without an upper bridge, a variant developed in Glashütte, which the brand would have been remiss not to adopt. A tourbillon always appears somewhat separated, but here, because of the stepped design, it appears to float even closer to the surface of the movement. Its cage is particularly delicate, a distinguishing feature of the German brand’s approach.

Un tourbillon au garde-à-vous

Senator Chronometer Tourbillon © Glashütte Original

But this tourbillon doesn’t just settle for special aesthetic characteristics or positioning. Not only does the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon have a stop second, it also has a zero-reset function. This is a mechanism that Glashütte Original generally uses in its Senator Chronometers fitted with a classic escapement. When the crown is pulled out, the small seconds resets to zero, the minutes hand stops on one graduation of the railroad track, and then moves forward, jumping precisely from marker to marker, allowing the time to be adjusted. Here for the first time, these two extreme precision features have been applied to a flying tourbillon. But it’s a lot more complex to achieve.  

Un tourbillon au garde-à-vous

© Glashütte Original

In a classic watch, the small seconds is an integral part of the gearing. And resetting a wheel to zero is very simple; chronographs do it all the time. In a tourbillon, the small second is inseparable from its cage, which performs one rotation every minute. Here, it even has its own railroad track, on a sapphire ring. And resetting the cage to zero is not a trivial task. This complex assemblage of tiny components is fragile, and could not cope with the harsh impact of a traditional zero-reset. So Glashütte Original has protected it with a regulator, the same type found in minute repeaters, where it controls the velocity at which the hammers strike. It can be seen at 7 o’clock on the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon. This tiny damper, which the brand calls a “detent minute”, absorbs the shock of the reset. You see the tourbillon cage slowly, gently, return to the vertical position and wait for the watch to be adjusted.

But this technical feat is not the most arresting feature of the watch. What draws the eye when looking at the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon is the separation between three areas. The first is the off-centre hours and minutes dial. The blue stepped dial overlaps the movement plate, which acts as a backdrop to the horological scene playing out below. Glashütte Original has added an inscription to the flanks of this raised circle: “Chronometer Tourbillon” – but the letters are backwards. They can be read the correct way around in the perfectly polished dial flange, where they are reflected, as if in a mirror.

Un tourbillon au garde-à-vous

The Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Tourbillon on the wrist © WorldTempus / David Chokron

The second zone surrounds this dial on all sides. It is finished with Glashütte stripes, the local variant of Geneva striping. This is one of the specialities of the German brand, which is known for its habit of showing decorations on the dial side that are generally reserved for the movement. And this is indeed the dial side, not the dial: the entire area visible under the sapphire glass is in fact the back of the calibre. Finally, the third zone surrounds the tourbillon, regulator and power reserve. It is hand engraved, which creates a relief effect further accentuated by the fact that part of the mechanism is visible. So, the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon has several faces. Some are hidden, others are backwards, and some are highly visible and explicit, but deceptive.

Un tourbillon au garde-à-vous

© Glashütte Original

 

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