Occupying a special niche in fine watchmaking, German high horology has earned a solid following with its powerful yet understated character.
It takes plenty of patience to be a watchmaker at A. Lange & Sohne. And that’s not just because it can take days to weeks to assemble the many minute parts of the German luxury brand’s watch movements, whether it’s the 368-component engine of the brand’s signature Lange 1 watch or the 867-part heart of its complex Grand Complication. It’s also because the brand adopts the unique practice of double assembly: After a movement is assembled and checked, it is taken apart and the parts cleaned and ﬁnished, and put together a second time. All, of course, in the name of utmost timekeeping excellence.
With its uncompromising focus on quality, it’s no surprise that A. Lange & Sohne tends to ﬁrst come to mind when one thinks about German ﬁne watchmaking. While it is a top-tier, almost extreme example of Teutonic horology, A. Lange & Sohne is reﬂective of its principles: High, yet understated, quality, in terms of both technical workings and looks.
Today, the quiet eastern town of Glashutte (population less than 7,000) is home to some of the most respected names in ﬁne watchmaking, such as Glashutte Original. Born of the post-reuniﬁcation privatisation of eight previously nationalised watch ﬁrms, the brand assembles its own movements and makes almost all of its own components.
But it’s not just the country’s priciest timepieces that have a loyal following. Across the street from Glashutte Original is the production centre of Nomos, a mid-tier brand that has earned a rabid fan base with its relatively affordable creations featuring in-house movements and minimalist Bauhaus design sensibilities.
While Glashutte might be Germany’s high-horology hub, other key pockets of watchmaking activity can be found elsewhere in the country: Frankfurt-based Sinn, for instance, is another fan favourite for its nononsense tool watches for pilots and divers. Closer to Glashutte, Dresden is home to another brand that has been making waves among collectors: Lang & Heyne. Helmed by ﬁfth-generation watchmaker Marco Lang, the independent brand’s latest Georg timepiece has no fancy complications, just the time – but fans cannot get enough of its movement: It’s creatively but cleanly constructed, and handsomely ﬁnished, without ostentation. And, indeed, very German.
ON TIME, EVERYWHERE
The Senator Cosmopolite for globetrotters is a perfect blend of technical ingenuity, intuitive operation and refined aesthetics.
For the consummate traveller, a multiple time zone watch is a vital companion that tracks and displays home time, allowing it to be read at a glance anywhere in the world. The typical examples of such timepieces are the GMT and worldtimer.
These complications have remained largely identical since their initial development, and continue to be relied on today. Ever the innovator, Glashutte Original has created what is possibly the best way to track and display a second time zone.
MEET THE SENATOR COSMOPOLITE
The Senator Cosmopolite shows the local time via its central hands, with a small seconds subdial at six o’clock and large date at four o’clock rounding up the usual displays. There is also an additional day/night indicator for local time at nine o’clock.
Meanwhile, the second time zone is tracked via the subdial at 12 o’clock, which shows the time along with its own day/ night indicator. The watch automatically computes and displays the time in this subdial, based on what time zones its wearer has set in the apertures at eight o’clock. What sets the Senator Cosmopolite apart is how it tracks all the 35 time zones that are in use today, complete with Daylight Saving for every applicable one. This includes time zones that are off set from Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) by 30 or 45 minutes.
Nepal’s time zone, for instance, is an unconventional UTC +5:45. Reading Nepal’s time off a conventional GMT/ worldtimer watch will thus require an additional step of subtracting 15 minutes, as those watches track only offsets in complete hours. In the Senator Cosmopolite, however, the second time zone indicator displays the correct time – no further mental sums are necessary.
Ingenious mechanical solution aside, what’s also important here is how user-friendly the Senator Cosmopolite is. Thanks to the simple interface, adjusting any part of the watch is a cinch; the movement’s complexities remain hidden under the dial and out of the way. An example of ﬁne watchmaking, the Senator Cosmopolite’s time zone mechanism is backed by the rest of the in-house Calibre 89-02 movement powering it. This movement’s swan neck regulator allows every individual movement to be precisely adjusted for timekeeping accuracy.
Meanwhile, an off -centre rotor keeps the watch powered by the motions of its owner’s wrist, while the 72-hour power reserve, displayed via the sector at 12 o’clock, ensures sufficient autonomy – and the convenience that comes with it.
Calibre 89-02 is also ﬁnished to exceptional standards. This is put on display, via the see-through caseback. The hallmarks of German watchmaking are all here, including blued screws, Glashutte ribbing, hand-engraved decorative motifs, and bi-colour galvanisation of the balance cock.
The Senator Cosmopolite is arguably the epitome of watchmaking according to Glashutte Original – complex beneath the hood, yet easy to read and operate. It is available in both white and red gold, as well as steel.