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Review: Glash?tte Original Sport Evolution

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Published on 11-18-2010 09:36 AM

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“Time that allows itself the luxury of moving forward slowly, deliberately - this is the time that is created in a little German watchmaking town and bears the name Glashütte Original. The history of this manufactory now reaches back more than 160 years and each horological work of art that it produces writes yet another chapter of that history. Glashütte Original’s goal is to do justice to the demanding legacy of the traditional art of watchmaking. Thus, tradition and innovation have merged together in the quest for utmost precision, and the filigreed skills of the craftsman’s hand produce great masterpieces of timeless value. Now, as then, Glashütte Original’s watchmakers attempt to create a piece of eternity with every new timepiece.”*

*2007 Glashütte Original Catalogue (pg.6)

Big words, huh? For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated and attracted to watches. Even as a kid I remember always having a watch. But it’s only been in the last couple of years that I really started to become interested in mechanical watches and an appreciation of their complexity, industrial beauty, and mechanical genius. I suppose that I began like most of you: starting small and working my way up the horological ladder, as it were. I’ve owned several mid-level, luxury brands and have enjoyed every watch I’ve owned. But the more I read; and the more I learned on forums; and the more I saw the more I wanted a watch that represented the real watchmaker’s art. I think I may have found it with the Glashütte Original Sport Evolution Panorama Date (REF. 39-55-43-03-04).

The Watch:

The Sport Evolution is Glashütte Original’s line of diver-style watches and in addition to the Panorama Date there are GMT and Chronograph versions. All three are available with either a rubber or Trieste strap or a stainless steel bracelet. I looked at, and compared side-by-side, the Sport Evolution to several other watches including the Rolex Seadweller, Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Memovox, IWC Aquatimer and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. All superb watches in their own right, but I kept coming back to the Sport Evolution again and again.

The Sport Evolution comes in a 42 mm solid, brushed stainless steel, shock resistant case. The case is 13.45 mm in height (including bezel and crystal) and features an exchangeable, polished stainless steel crown guard to protect the engraved screw-in crown. There is a sapphire crystal over the dial and a screwed-on, concave sapphire crystal display back on the rear. The Sport Evolution is pressure rated to 20 atmospheres (200 meters). While the watch is substantial at 208 grams (with bracelet), the curved case allows it to sit very comfortably on the wrist. This case makes for a very solid as well as stylish housing for the movement.

The coin-edge bezel is made from steel and aluminum. It's unidirectional and has firm, yet smooth, click stops. According to Glashütte Original, "the bezel of the Sport Evolution is lavishly milled by hand so that the numerals are raised while the remaining surface is flushed out with color, both finally meeting again on one level." I'm not technically sure what that last bit meant, but I can say that the bezel is gorgeous. Even though it's metal it has that look of high-luster lacquer and there almost seems to be a slight curve to it. It's flawless!

The face of the Sport Evolution is exquisitely done. It’s matte-black dial has a slight pie-pan shape, with a concentric-circle engraved decoration around the outer portion. It sports polished markers with chamfered edges, and the larger markers at 12, 3,6 and 9 o’clock are coated with Superluminova - as well as the baton minute and hour hands. The second hand has a red tip for increased visibility and is counterbalanced with Glashütte Original's “mirrored G” logo. GO’s famous “panorama date” complication is presented at the 4 o’clock position. The numerals are large, easy to read without the need for a cyclops, and having white numerals on a black field makes them highly legible and aesthetically compatible with the rest of the face.

I prefer bracelets on dive watches, so I opted for Glashütte Original’s luxurious stainless steel bracelet. This is an admittedly pricey option (adds $1,300 to the MSRP), but in my opinion is worth absolutely every penny. The bracelet consists of solid stainless steel links, with brushed center links and polished outer links, and are all held together with screws for easy “gross” adjustment. The quality and finish is simply superb - so smooth that it almost doesn’t feel like metal.

But as exquisite as the bracelet is, in my opinion it’s the the clasp that throws it over the top. The incredible stainless steel clasp is of the two-button design (which I prefer to the fold-over style). The buttons don’t stick out too far, thus providing visual continuity, but they offer good purchase to the fingers and operate very smoothly.

But the feature that makes this the finest clasp that I’ve seen is the micro-adjustment. In the middle of the clasp is Glashütte’s “mirrored G” logo. When you press the logo, releasing a catch, it allows you to fine tune the bracelet’s fit by offering eight stops adjustable in 1 mm increments. The genius of the design is that it allows you to fine tune the fit without taking the watch off of your wrist!

Nothing is perfect, however, and I think that the bracelet could be minorly improved by offering a half-link on either side of the clasp [Note: I don’t know if this is something that can be purchased separately if needed]. With that minor quibble said, I have to say that if there’s a finer bracelet out there I’ve not seen it. The bracelet on the Sport Evolution is not only sturdy, supportive and comfortable to wear, but offers an exceptional level of adjustment while being visually stunning - all at the same time.

The Movement:

At the heart of the Sport Evolution Panorama Date is Glashütte Original’s in-house manufacture Calibre 39-42. Here are the particulars:

Dimensions: diameter: 26,2 mm, height: 4.3 mm (Basic caliber)

Frequency: 28.800 A/h

Power reserve: 40 hours (+/- 5%)

Balance spring: flat spring

Jewels: Caliber 39-42 (Panorama Date, 44 jewels)

Shock protection: Incabloc

The GO Calibre 39-42 also has their trademark 3/4 plate decorated with Glashütte stripes; a Swan-neck fine adjustment; and a skeletonized rotor with Glashütte stripes with 21k gold logo and oscillating weight.

This is the main reason that I purchased this watch. While rugged enough to be used in a sport watch, the movement is a fine example of the watchmakers craft: finely finished, innovative features, precision engineering and visually attractive. Oh...and it’s accurate too. I took it out of the box 5 days ago and it’s currently running at < +1 second/day. Every watch I own doesn’t have to have a movement this stunning, but it sure is nice to have at least one!


In order for me to be able to afford this watch, I had to simplify my collection - and “simplify” here means that I sold 5 watches, that I wasn't wearing as often as I should, to exchange for one that I'd be happy to wear every day. With a current MSRP of $8,800.00 (with bracelet) the Sport Evolution is decidedly not inexpensive. But a smart shopper can reduce that price by a nice percentage making the Sport Evolution, in my opinion, a great offering in the luxury segment.

I look at the Sport Evolution as my innaugural foray into the first tier of “haute horology” and I’m loving it so far. The Sport Evolution has great looks, simultaneously incorporating both classic and modern aesthetics; superb engineering and manufacturing; a reliable, accurate and finely decorated movement of in-house manufacture; the exclusivity a small company with a rich 160-year heritage can provide; and a recognized prestige that, perhaps, doesn’t shout as loudly as some other luxury brands, but is still there none-the-less. The Glashütte Original Sport Evolution Panorama Date is exactly what I was looking for: it fits me like a glove!



This article was originally published in forum thread:

Review: Glashütte Original Sport Evolution
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