The Glashutte Original Senator Observer brings you a very impressive mix of a perfect self-winding mechanism, a dial that is easy to read in any circumstances, and a nicely sculpted body inherited from an earlier iteration of the watch, all seasoned with that attention to even most miniscule details that only German watchmakers seem to exhibit regardless of the price tag that comes with their timekeepers.
If there is a market for a “gentleman’s pilot’s watch,” the German watchmaking specialist Glashutte Original has got it covered. While most luxury “aviators” offered by brands like IWC or even Patek Philippe with its gorgeous Calatrava Pilot Travel Time (ref. 5524) still look a bit too rugged to my taste, this new variation of the Senator Observer collection nicely balances high legibility and conciseness of a true pilot’s instrument with elegance and refinement of a posh dress watch, which it is based on.
Although some may find its sticker price of $11,800 a bit too steep, this new gadget seems to completely justify its price with its great self-winding, hand-decorated mechanism and a dial that gives you an unrivalled combination of readability and classiness.
Case & Strap
Still coming in the same stainless steel case that measures respectable 44 millimeters in diameter and just 12 millimeters top to bottom, this watch surely takes a great deal of space on a normal wrist, but it seems to be quite comfy when it comes to everyday wearing. Its profile offers a natural curve and the bezel is curvy enough for you to almost never feel any discomfort while wearing the piece with a shirt.
The crown is just large enough to provide a good grip and the lugs are still relatively short not to overhang when it comes to a narrower wrist.
As for the strap, it is predictably high-quality black leather band with comfortable branded folding clasp. Of course, there is also another version of the watch that comes on a great stainless steel bracelet (ref. 100-14-07-02-70.)
Compared to the 2012 Senator Observer, the new model features a revisited dial. While the basic layout is the same with a power reserve indicator still sitting at 3 o’clock being counterweighed by a small second subdial at 9 hours, as well as featuring their signature “Panorama Date” big date display, the finish is different.
As you can see, the new version of the watch features a pair of diamond-shaped hour and minute hands with light-green Superluminova on them matched by the same compound covering the Breguet-style Arabic numerals. The diamond- and triangular-shaped luminous hour markers, too, provide the watch with a very nice vintage aura.
Of course, legibility is still very impressive with all the data readily available at just a single glance. Perhaps, given all the amount of lume poured on this varnish matt black dial, this is an ultimate dress watch for those obsessed with superb readability in almost all lighting scenarios.
In this regard, the watch reminds me the 2009 Glashütte Original Senator Navigator Perpetual Calendar model that turned a fairly ordinary dressy timekeeper into a luxury pilot’s watch although the brand didn’t really positioned it as such. The same happened with this Senator Observer. Frankly, it is really amazing to see how it only takes a few minor brushes here and there to completely change the overall look and feel of the timepiece.
Just like the aforementioned 2012 Observer, the new watch is still powered by a member of their Caliber GO 100 family. Called Caliber 100-15, this mechanism still features the same double-barrel energy storage system that allows the timekeeper to keep on going for at least 55 hours after being fully wound.
Being relatively large (it measures 31.15 millimeters in diameter and is 6.5 mm thick,) the movement looks like an ideal choice for this oversized timekeeper: something that most lower-priced offerings usually lack having to do with standard ETA calibers that are often too compact for the task forcing their designers to opt in for ill-proportioned dials and transparent case back cover apertures the size of a pin-hole.
As usual for the German brand, the movement is exquisitely finished featuring polished and beveled bridges and screw heads, as well as having its signature “Glashutte” three-quarter plate decorated with vertical stripes that nicely correspond to the same motif on the skeletonized oscillating weight.
You have probably already noticed a push-piece on the right side of the case closer to 2 o’clock position. Like a “reset” button on PCs, this push-piece is designed to overcome the mechanism’s non-hacking second hand design. If you are obsessed with superior accuracy (well, at least with as much accuracy that a modern mechanical movement can provide,) and would like to synchronize it with your reference device of choice, you only need to set correct time with hour and minute indicators and then press the tiny button with a toothpick (or some other hard pointy object of your choice) to return the second hand to its starting position at 12 o’clock.
Pricing & Availability
At this time, the watch is offered at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $11,800 (some online retailers already offer a generous 25 percent discount on this model, but Glashutte Original will probably not like you for getting your piece from one of those grey dealers), which is not too much for a timepiece of such high pedigree. Compared to many similarly priced timekeepers from the brand’s Swiss-based competitors, this new Senator Observer even seems to offer better value for money with its gorgeous mechanism and overall level of craftsmanship. I just can’t recommend it highly enough.
Photos: Glashütter Uhrenbetrieb GmbH
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Glashutte Original Senator Observer Automatic watch specification
Movement: Automatic, Caliber 100-15, in-house, 31.15×6.5 mm, Made in Germany
Number of jewels: 60
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 55 hours
Movement decoration: polished/beveled edges, polished steel parts, polished screws, Glashütte three-quarter plate with stripe finish
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, big date, power reserve
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 44.00 mm
Case height: 12.00 mm
Lug width: 21/18 mm
Dial: Varnish matt black
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: Luminous
Hands: Luminous, diamond-shaped
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black calf leather strap with steel folding clasp / Steel bracelet
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides
Case back: Sapphire