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REVIEW: The Glashütte Original PanoRetroGraph>>>>>>

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Published on 06-08-2010 10:00 AM

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Review of the Glashütte Original PanoRetroGraph
By: John B. Holbrook, II

NOTE: While this watch is no longer produced by Glashütte Original, I think it's an interesting watch which is quite a bargain in the pre-owned market and therefore worth examining.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990 brought German reunification, and massive political and economic change. One of the many positives which have come from German reunification is the re-establishment of Glashütte Original as one of the word’s preeminent watch brands. The origins of Glashütte Original can be traced back to 1845 when Ferdinand Adolf Lange founded his first watch manufactory in Glashütte, Germany. For many years watches of mechanical complexity and grand stature were created, with the name Glashütte Original appearing on the dial for the first time in 1921. But, in 1951 Glashütte Original was merged with various other Saxon watch brands by the East German government and lost all identity. Fast forward to four years after German reunification, and privatization of the watch manufacturing facilities once controlled by the East German Government. Within two years, the factory is once again producing watches which bear the name Glashütte Original. By 2000, the Swatch Group purchased Glashütte Original, and it remains one of their many illustrious watch brands to this day. Glashütte recently provided me a reference 60-01-04-03-04 PanoRetroGraph for review — this was not my first exposure to premier Saxon watchmaking, so I had high expectations. I was also naturally curious to compare and contrast this watch with the many fine examples of Swiss watchmaking I’ve examined over the years — I was not at all disappointed.

Watch Analog watch Product Clock Watch accessory

The PanoRetroGraph is a hand-wound, mechanical chronograph. For those of you who are looking at the dial of this watch and thinking “there must be a typo,” you did indeed read correctly — the PanoRetroGraph is a chronograph. Absent are the traditional sub-dial chronograph registers. In their place is the unique register located to the right of the main watch dial. This register has three lines — each one dedicated to ten minutes. Additionally, the main watch dial has a traditional hour and minute hand, with a chronograph “flyback” second hand. A second hand sub dial is located at the six o’clock position, to the right of which, and just below the chronograph register, is located the big date-style date complication. In addition to the aforementioned complications, the PanoRetroGraph also features a lovely triple repetition chime which can be set.

One has to admire the unique design and execution of the PanoRetroGraph’s chronograph display — I’ve never seen another chronograph function executed like the PanoRetroGraph. In terms of usability I can’t say I prefer the Glashütte design over a traditional three-register display. However, the uniqueness of the design has great appeal to collectors of fine mechanical watches – especially chronographs. It’s certainly an interesting way of handling the task of “stop watch” chronograph functionality. The design also has the advantage of creating a very clean, balanced dial which doesn’t detract from the legibility of the hour and minute display the way some traditional chronograph layouts tend to do. The dial is protected by a slightly domed sapphire crystal which has an anti-reflective coating applied on the interior. As beautiful as the dial of this watch is, turning the watch over and viewing the movement via the sapphire display back, one is almost tempted to wear the watch with the dial side down.

Watch Analog watch Product Clock Rectangle

The finishing of the Glashütte Caliber 60 rivals that of any Swiss manufactured movement I’ve reviewed. Given that the watch is a hand wound and not an automatic, there is no rotor to obscure the view of the movement. The Caliber 60, made entirely by Glashütte, is a 54- jewel mechanical movement with a power reserve of 42 hours, and a balance wheel (utilizing 18 weighted gold screws) which vibrates at a speed of 28,800 beats per hour (BPH). All the screws visible are heat-blued in the Glashütte factory, and the bridges and cocks have Glashütte stripe finish work (more commonly referred to as côtes de Genève outside the borders of Glashütte Germany) applied. Viewing the movement, one wonders if the bridges and gear work were laid out for aesthetic reasons as much as functionality.

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The PanoRetroGraph case has a diameter of 39.2mm and is done in solid 18k rose gold (also available in platinum or white gold). Attached to the case lugs is a luxurious and well padded Louisiana crocodile leather strap. The strap is fastened via a solid 18k gold double fold, push button deployant clasp which is signed “GO.” I found the beautifully ornate clasp to be quite secure, but some may find the added girth of the double folding two-button deployant uncomfortable.

The Glashütte Original PanoRetroGraph is an absolute magnificent timepiece with a fit and finish which rivals some of the finest examples I’ve seen coming out of Switzerland. The PanoRetroGraph puts an innovative spin on the traditional chronograph, which further distinguishes itself in the marketplace. The PanoRetroGraph is no longer part of the Glashütte Original catalog, but carried a retail price of over $50,000 US. Here's an image from the Glashütte Original website about the PanoRetroGraph - click on the image to visit the GO site for more info.

**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 PanoRetroGraph>>>>>>
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