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REVIEW: The Glashütte Original PanoMatic Counter XL>>>>>>>

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Published on 08-17-2010 01:11 PM

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Review of the Glashütte Original PanoMatic Counter XL

By: John B. Holbrook, II


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I was first introduced to the Glashütte Original PanoMatic Counter XL at Basel 2010 (you can read my full report on Basel 2010 by clicking here) and was quite impressed. Like most of the manufacturers who were at Basel 2010, Glashütte Original sought to introduce some pieces which were more in tune with prevailing economic conditions, and the Glashütte Original PanoMatic Counter XL very much embodies this trend. With it's stainless steel construction, and it's no-nonsense functionality, I found the watch to be a breath of fresh air and very much looked forward to spending some time hands-on with the watch.

Functionally, the PanoMatic Counter XL seems fairly straightforward. It's a fly-back chronograph with a white "big date" display located at 3 o'clock. The hour and minute display are located in the traditional Glashütte Original subdial configuration at 6 o'clock (the hands have a modest amount of SuperLuminova applied to provide a measure of low-light legibility). There are two subdials on either side of the large chronograph second hand display - a second hand subdial on the left, and a 30 minute counter on the right hand side. Set against the matte black dial, the complications on this 44mm diameter watch are smartly arranged and easy to see. The interesting novelty on the PanoMatic Counter XL is the red two-digit "counter" complication located at 9 o'clock on the dial. The counter complication is controlled by pushers on the left-hand side of the case - the pusher at 10 o'clock resets the counter, the 9'oclock pusher advances the counter by 1, and the pusher at 8 o'clock brings the counter backward by 1. One might wonder what the practical applications would be for a counter function, but I can think of several. Chronographs are often used to time races or other sporting events, and the counter complication on the PanoMatic Counter XL seems natural fit with a chronograph - to count laps, keep track of points, etc. You can countdown the number of days or hours until an important event, keep track of how many times you've taken medication during the day....when you think about it, a counter application is as handy as a pocket on a shirt! The dial of the PanoMatic Counter XL is protected by a sapphire crystal, which has an anti-reflective coating applied to both sides. I normally frown on such a coating being applied to the top side of a sapphire crystal (the crystal will resist scratches, but the coating won't), but in this instance the dual coatings doesn't produce the usual blue dial hue that I normally see with dual AR coated crystals.

Glashütte Original created an entirely new movement to power the functionality of the PanoMatic Counter XL - the Glashütte Original Caliber 96-01.

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The Caliber 96-01 is a mechanical self-winding movement with 72 jewels, and a beat speed of 28,800 BPH (beats per hour). The Caliber 96-01 also features many hallmarks of "high-horology" including a traditional Glashütte three-quarter plate with "Glashütte" (as opposed to Geneva) striping, a free sprung balance wheel with a swan's neck fine adjustment, a column wheel controlled chronograph, and heat-blued screws throughout. In the photo below, the swan's neck regulator and chronograph column wheel are both visible:

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The counter complication is deceptively simple, yet it accounts for 217 of the total 584 individual components which comprise the Caliber 96-01. Glashütte Original also implemented a new, patented step gear into the self-winding mechanism of the Caliber 96-01. The step gear is designed to improve winding efficiency and ensures that large amounts of the winding rotor‘s energy are transmitted to the mainspring, and the spring barrel is filled quickly. Fortunately, Glashütte Original has given us a sapphire crystal observation back so that the marvelous finishing and decoration of the Caliber 96-01 can be easily seen - particularly that lovely "GG" engraved winding rotor. The Caliber 96-01 is manufactured entirely "in-house" by Glashütte Original.

The dial and movement of the PanoMatic Counter XL are housed in a 44mm polished stainless steel case, with a height of 16mm. A stainless steel case was no doubt chosen to reduce costs given the current state of the world economy, but it goes well with this watch which has a decidedly sporty function and look.

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Between the case lugs of the PanoMatic Counter XL black Louisiana alligator leather strap with a brushed stainless steel two-button, bi-fold clasp. Kudos to Glashütte Original for going with a brushed finish on the clasp which will be less apt to show scratches than a polished finish would.

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The alligator strap was well-padded and very comfortable and gives the timepiece a very dressy appearance. Given the sportier function and look of the dial, a less-dressy, more sporty rubber strap (or perhaps leather with red stitching?) could be used as a nice alternate - the PanoMatic Counter XL can dress up or down quite easily.

Leave it to German practicality to think of putting a no-nonsense, useful complication like a counter on a wrist watch. And credit the horological engineering know-how and craftsmanship found only in Glashütte Germany with make it work. The Retail price of the Glashütte Original PanoMatic Counter XL is $25,100.00 - a veritable bargain for this in-house manufactured, horological masterpiece with sensible and unique complications from a brand like Glashütte Original.

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**Photos & Text Copyright 2010 WATCH TALK FORUMS INC.. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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REVIEW: The Glashütte Original PanoMatic Counter XL>>>>>>>
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