Introduced at the beginning of the year, the Glashütte Original PanoMatic Counter XL (ref. 96-01-02-02-04) is among the rare few luxury timekeepers that offer unsurpassed quality and style for -ahem- reasonable money.
Do you know that something is rotten in the state of Denmark? Has it ever occurred to you that it is actually wrong to buy a product only because there are a couple of words on its body that tell you that it was made in a certain country?
For decades we were buying Japanese cars because we knew that they were of superior quality not only to the American gas guzzlers but also to the German fuel sippers, both luxury and affordable ones. The long series of recalls by Toyota and Lexus, Honda and Acura, Nissan and Infiniti felt like a cold shower.
Buying a hi-fi stereo system or a set of expensive speakers sold under premium Japanese- or UK-based brands no longer guarantees you the legendary quality of sound, because this audio system or that set of speakers maybe not only made but also developed in China under a licensing agreement with the lowest-bidding company with its workers dying like flies, because “they feel lonely” in their overcrowded sweatshops.
And it is stupid to ignore a major brand just because its gorgeous hand-made movement is not “assembled and tested” in Switzerland.
Yes, while brands like Panerai still make their first steps in becoming more or less respectable Manufactures (with majority of models still featuring movements from ETA or Soprod) Glashuette Original is currently one of a chosen few that develops and makes true masterpieces that stay on par or (in some respects) are even superior to the best movements developed by Jaeger LeCoultre, which is currently regarded as one of the best Swiss watchmakers.
What I also like about GO, is that they don’t walk the beaten road when it comes to earning money. While most brands are never too shy to introduce another “limited edition” model that differs from the original only with a color of its small seconds hand and an engraving on its case back, GO invents a whole new complication to sell some more copies of their elegant PanoMaticChrono model. Called PanoMaticCounter XL, the model offers you a complication that makes the process of counting crows deliciously easy.
The complication in question is a rather simple mechanical counter that sits atop the original GO Caliber 95 automatic movement (the ending product is called Caliber 96-01) and allows you to track events with three pushers: you can incrementally increase or decrease the number with “plus” and “minus” buttons at 9 and 8 o’clock respectively, or you can reset it altogether with a “zero” key at 10 o’clock.
As you can see on the photos above and below, the counter’s window sits at the Western part of the dial (you can’t call that part a “9 o’clock” since the main dial is removed to the lower part of the dial) perfectly balancing the panorama date window at the Eastern part.
(The rest of the display is the same. There is a tri-compax fly-back chronograph at the upper part of the dial with a large chronograph stop second display raised above the main plate of the dial and a pair of subsidiary seconds and 30-minute counters with their zero points turned 60 degrees clockwise and counter-clockwise to “guarantee optimum legibility.” H-m-m…)
Although some people may dismiss the complication as completely useless, I personally am completely in love with it: it is always easier to track progress toward some clear and specific target when the progress bar is always here serving to rebuke me for my lack of concentration or motivation.
From the usability point of view, the only problem with the counter is that some strangers may decide that this is a digital month display and could be amused with such readings as 33 or 57. However, nobody is interested in a stranger’s opinion these days.
Photos: Glashütte Original
Glashütte Original PanoMatic Counter XL (ref. 96-01-02-02-04) specification
Price range: $25,100 (MSRP)
Movement: GO Caliber 96-01, in-house, based on the GO Caliber 95, automatic, Made in Germany
Number of jewels: 72
Complications: Chronograph, panorama date, counter
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 44.00 mm
Case height: 16.00 mm
Hands: White gold
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black Louisiana alligator leather strap with deployant buckle in stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflective