Glashütte Original epitomises the very best in German luxury watchmaking
Glashütte Original is a German luxury watchmaker that traces its roots back to 1845. Chief Executive Officer Thomas Meier sat down for an exclusive interview with Arabian Knight’s fashion guru Breck Graham on the sidelines of the 67th Berlinale Film Festival held earlier this year, and spoke of the brand’s history, philosophy and quest for excellence...
As the new Chief Executive Officer of Glashütte Original, will you introduce a new brand philosophy?
No! There is no need to introduce a new brand philosophy. Our existing philosophy is so successful there is no need to this. When you look over our collection you find beautiful watches for men and women at an outstanding price/performance ratio. Some of them even have exceptional complications like the flying tourbillon which is still one of the highest complications in the watch business. A flying tourbillon is a rotating metal cage in which the oscillation system of the mechanical watch rests. This system originally was developed to compensate the effects of the Earth’s gravity, which influences the accuracy of pocket watches. As the flying tourbillon is supported only from one side, it seems to fly. As today most of the watches are wristwatches there is no functional need any more for this historic complication and most of the mechanical watches don’t have it. But it is still an expression of outstanding craftsmanship and that’s why we have it in a few models of our collection. It goes back on an invention made in Glashütte by Alfred Helwig around the year 1920. Another technical highlight is our Senator Cosmopolite with its innovative time zone mechanism.
What is the uniqueness of the Senator Cosmopolite?
The Senator Cosmopolite allows choosing one of all existing 36 worldwide time zones to be displayed as a second time on the dial. Also, the time zones with deviations of 30 or 45 minutes can be chosen. With its smart construction, it can even react on the creation of new time zones or on their elimination.
Glashütte Original released five new square pieces, the Sixties Iconic Square Collection, during the Berlinale. Why did you choose retro style?
Our brand has a very long history which goes back to the year 1845. Because of the town’s location in the Eastern part of Germany, production was controlled by the Socialist government after World War II when Germany was divided into two states. Larger quantities of functional and robust watches at reasonable prices were the main focus. But even with this changed philosophy, the passion for watchmaking continued with limited sources during those times. The new Sixties Iconic Square Collection is a tribute to the dedication and passion of the sixties Glashütte Original artisans who kept the customs of craftsmanship alive in this period. At the Berlinale, I was surprised by the positive response to the Sixties Iconic Square Collection. A number of young people were asking questions about the watches.
What are the materials used for the collection?
The watch case is made from stainless steel, the glass is sapphire crystal, the colourful dials are made from German Silver, which is neither German nor Silver. It is a brand name. It is an alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc. The components of the elegant movement are mainly made of brass and steel.
What are the movement details of the Sixties Iconic Square Collection
The movement that we use in our Sixties Iconic Square Collection is our Calibre 39-34. It’s a chronograph calibre with a start and stop function to monitor the timing. This is the reason there are two additional pushes outside the case body around the crown.
Intervals up to 30 minutes can be measured with the watch. It’s an automatic movement with a beautifully finished rotor which winds up the watch once it is moved. Moreover, the movement is characterised by numerous traditional features and finishings that are typical for watchmaking in Glashütte. The so-called three-quarter plate, the stripe finish or the polished steel parts are just a few examples.
Do you have a favourite watch from the Sixties Iconic Square collection?
The gray one in titanium style, it has a unique texture on the dial. The dial was made with a historic watch-making tool. The idea of the past goes into the production of a new watch. I love this very much!
What is the tool?
It is a very specific stamping tool. It is only used for this watch.
Is there a masculine look to the Sixties Iconic Square Collection?
On first sight, maybe, but I would not define it that way. Today, clients like large dials. When potential buyers try on the watch they are convinced about its size.
For Middle East clients who are passionate about watches, is there a style or design you recommend?
I think clients from the Middle East like the pure form, style, elegance, quality, and refinement. The precise movements, this is the reason why we have the transparent case for the back. Clients can see the mechanics of the watch at work. They have a total appreciation of this style.
Why does a man feel confident wearing an exclusive timepiece?
For a man it is the classic visual jewel he can wear. For this reason, it is important to wear a watch that represents his character. It is a statement.
Glashütte Original has just opened a new store in Dubai – this shows a solid commitment to your Arab clients.
Yes! The Glashütte Original Boutique at the Dubai Mall is exceptional. After extensive renovation, it reopened before Christmas with our entire collection on display. Our staff is trained constantly. When a client comes into the store he gets the full first class service, a complete consultation on buying the perfect timepiece. The store’s atmosphere ensures that customers have a pleasant experience whether they come for a chat with the staff to learn about watches over a cup of tea or just a place to relax. If a client requires discretion, we have a VIP area.
How did Glashütte Original become involved in the Documentary Award at the Berlinale?
Last year’s winner of the Golden Bear Award was a documentary film, Fire at Sea. In addition, it was a long-standing wish of the Berlinale to have a separate award for the documentary category. Both inspired us to support this category. Documentary producers usually have little or no support under difficult circumstances. That’s why the Glashütte Original Documentary Award also provides a financial support.
The trophy design is unique.
The Glashütte Original Documentary Award was designed by our watchmaking school in Glashütte, Germany, taking four months to produce. The materials used are largely the same used for our watches. The design is that of an open column made with brass, satin-brushed steel and clear acrylic. It represents emerging truth.
How would you describe Glashütte Original time pieces?
Simply perfect! German watchmaking at its very best!