Before the days of GPS, mechanical timepieces were essential navigation tools for mariners who crossed the world’s oceans. The quest to create a mechanical clock that was durable and reliable enough to withstand the harsh conditions at sea was one of the defining events in watchmaking history and, as chronicled in Dava Sobel’s best-selling book Longitude, a fascinating tale for anyone with an interest in watches. British clockmaker John Harrison is credited as the inventor of the marine chronometer in the 1700s, but the German watchmakers of Glashütte would become renowned for creating some of the world’s finest navigational timekeepers a century later.
The Senator Chronometer from Glashütte Original is a tribute to these cutting-edge timepieces of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the latest version combines the traditional style of classic marine chronometers with a modern, nautical-inspired blue and grey dial. The new Senator Chronometer from Glashütte Original is the third model in the brand’s current collection and, like every watch made by Glashütte Original, is as aesthetically refined as it is mechanically advanced.
To this end, the dial and parts of the movement are silver-plated using a labour-intensive technique during which a mixture of fine silver powder, salt, and water is rubbed into the surfaces by hand. This lends it a fine, shimmering texture that’s complemented by a galvanic grey coating and a set of traditional blued hands and numerals. The Senator Chronometer’s 42 mm case, meanwhile, is made from white gold, with a combination of hand-polished and satin-brushed surfaces.
Combining elements of antique marine chronometers and 20th-century wristwatches, the dial of the new Senator Chronometer includes a running time indicator at 12 o’clock that’s inset with a day/night indicator that appears white during daytime and black at night, along with central hour and minute hands, a slightly recessed small seconds dial, and the German watchmaker’s signature Panorama Date at 3 o’clock. Powering these functions is the Calibre 58-08 manual-wind movement, which includes a three-quarter plate (a hallmark of all Glashütte Original watches), and is finely hand-finished with screw-mounted gold chatons and a hand-engraved balance cock.
Like any marine chronometer worth its salt, the new Senator Chronometer is incredibly precise, with a movement that’s subjected to a strictly controlled 15-day test run during which each it’s examined in five positions and three different temperatures by the independent Thuringian Office of Weights and Measures (Glashütte’s answer to Switzerland’s COSC and METAS).
Ensuring wearers can make the utmost use of this watch’s accuracy, it’s also equipped with a second-stop mechanism that stops the seconds hand and resets it to zero when the crown is pulled out. Used with the watch’s minute detent function, in which the minute hand jumps ahead one minute at a time with an audible haptic click as it is adjusted, the new Senator Chronometer can be set precisely to the second. This will surely be as appealing to 21st-century owners of the Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer as it was to anyone relying on a Glashütte chronometer a century ago on the high seas.