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Glashütte Original – Calibre 36: The heart of the Senator Excellence

by Simon Neo on July 4, 2016
Glashütte Original - Calibre 36: The heart of the Senator Excellence

In Baselworld 2016, Glashütte Original released the new Senator Excellence with a new in-house Calibre 36 movement. The Calibre 36 is a true representation of quality German watchmaking and a testament to Glashütte Original’s mission to strive to achieve nothing less than maximum precision and quality.

With a special engraving on the case back as well as an individual examination certificate for each new watch, Glashütte Original offers customers a promise of quality. This guarantees that every Senator Excellence watch meets the highest standards in terms of stability, precision, a running time of at least 100 hours, and timeless beauty, and also assures that it has been thoroughly tested in a long-term examination lasting 24 days. By doing the above, Glashütte Original is able to give its customers some form of assurance that their new acquisition is up to mark and know they can only expect maximum precision and quality from their timepiece.

 

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The new Calibre 36 powers the Senator Excellence, a quality movement that provides maximum precision and stability

 

The Calibre 36 carries many characteristics one can expect in a modern watch, a long power reserve of 100 hours, easy to assemble and service, use of silicon components in the watch. The Calibre 36 stands out from the rest due to it being characterised by a perfectly harmonious constellation of four fundamental attributes: Stability, Precision, Running Time and Aesthetics.

Stability – Reliability without compromise

One of the major themes of the brand is its ability to give maximum stability in terms of both rate precision and robust construction. As a result, the designers of Calibre 36 intentionally reduced the number of parts and components that were susceptible to wear and tear, such as the winding system’s detent click, whose role is being replaced by the bi-directional wind reduction gear. Greater stability is also achieved through the use of a bayonet mount to secure the movement in the case. This renders the construction as a whole extremely shock-resistant and, at the same time, easy to assemble and service.

 

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The use of a bayonet mount to secure the movement helps to enhance stability, making it shock-resistant and easy to assemble

 

Precision – Accuracy in all positions

One of the innovative features we see in the Calibre 36 is the use of a silicon balance spring in the movement, the first time Glashütte Original has ever done so. The use of silicon helps to render the ultra-thin spring immune to the influence of magnetic fields and temperature fluctuations, and allows it to oscillate extremely isochronously as well. It also complements perfectly with the regulator-free regulation system that allows rate adjustments to be performed directly on the balance rim using weighted screws. The optimized gear train assures exceptional operational stability as well, and the bi-directional automatic winding mechanism provides an optimal, continuous supply of energy when the watch is worn.

 

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Fine adjustment with the balance screws

 

Running time – At least 100 hours of autonomy

The new calibre features a power reserve, for the first time in a Glashütte Original watch, of more than 100 hours, at a frequency of 4Hz (28,800 half-oscillations per hour). The exceptionally high degree of autonomy is achieved with the use of only one spring barrel – an authentic rarity. In point of fact, both the exceptional autonomy and the high frequency require maximum levels of energy. This is made possible by the newly designed spring barrel, developed specifically for this purpose: thanks to an increased diameter and a smaller barrel arbour it was possible to extend the length of the spring to 680 mm and to increase sharply the number of winding turns.

 

The newly designed spring barrel helps the movement to achieve maximum energy to sustain its high frequency and level of autonomy

The newly designed spring barrel helps the movement to achieve maximum energy to sustain its high frequency and level of autonomy

 

For this purpose a new material from Nivarox was used, Elinflex, which prevents the spring from breaking, even when it is wound tightly. The performance capacity of the design is further supported by a highly efficient automatic winding mechanism, which achieves at least 100 hours of running time with only 1,900 revolutions thanks to its optimised transmission ratio. When the automatic winding mechanism is running, a special rocker gear disengages the manual winding gears, enabling additional energy savings.

Aesthetics: Decorative finishings à la Glashütte

The new movement is proud to present its inner beauty to the outside world. A glance through the sapphire crystal case back presents typical Glashütte decorations and construction features: the characteristic three-quarter plate and the skeletonised rotor with its oscillating mass in 21 carat gold, the refined stripe finish, perlage, blued screws and finely wrought decorations on the gears and rotor track. An additional, sophisticated highlight can be found in the implementation of the elegant manual winding chain, which is intentionally presented in full view and reveals the fascinating mechanism at work as the watch is wound by hand.

 

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The characteristic three-quarter plate and the skeletonised rotor with its oscillating mass in 21 carat gold, the refined stripe finish, perlage, blued screws and finely wrought decorations on the gears and rotor track

 

By introducing an exceptional base movement like the Calibre 36, Glashütte Original is in a good position to elevate the brand to newer heights and set high standards for German watchmaking. In the Calibre 36, we see many new innovative features such as the use of advanced materials for different components as well as the configuration of case design to allow it to attain its goal of achieving maximum quality and precision. Now, the question lies in whether the movement is able to continuously deliver and sustain both quality and performance in the days ahead. This is where the final product has to undergo extensive testing in the workshops of Glashütte Original to ensure consistency in performance.

Senator Excellence – 24 Days on the Test Bench

To achieve maximum precision and quality in its watches, Glashütte Original would only hand the watch over to its customer after it has been thoroughly tested in a long-term examination that lasts for 24 days. Over a duration of 24 days, the watch would undergo a series of tests under conditions that are deemed to be even more demanding than those in force for the standard German Chronometer tests. Now let’s take a closer look at what goes on during the 24-day test period.

Day 1 : Setting the watch and 24-hour position test

After manufacturing and assembly of a Glashütte Original Senator Excellence has been completed, it goes through several levels of testing. Following the initial synchronization with a highly precise Glashütte chronometer, each Senator Excellence is first put through a 24-hour position test. Here a rotating test device is used to simulate the conditions under which the watch is worn on the wrist and to test it in different positions; the rate deviation must remain within the range of only -4 to +6 seconds.

 

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The initial synchronization with a highly precise Glashütte chronometer

 

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The Senator Excellence being put through a 24-hour position test

 

Days 2-13 : Rate testing and adjustment in 6 positions

Each watch is then put through 12-day test in six different positions. The rate deviations are recorded carefully every day and serve as the basis for five important control values:

  • The average daily rate – an average of all deviations, which must remain within the range of -4 to +6 seconds per day.
  • The average of the absolute value of rate deviation registers the deviations within the positions; the sum total may not exceed 2 seconds per day.
  • The absolute value of rate deviation ensures that the greatest absolute rate deviation in each of the six positions does not exceed 5 seconds.
  • The rate difference in horizontal and vertical positions of the watch analyses its precision in these positions, with a tolerance of -6 to +8 seconds.
  • The maximum rate spread determines the greatest deviation from the average daily rate, which may not exceed 10 seconds per day.

 

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The watch is put through a 12-day test in six different positions

 

Days 14-16 : Temperature dependency

Every Senator Excellence is tested for an entire day at three different temperatures: 8°, 23° and 38° Celsius, in order to determine its ability to withstand fluctuations in temperature. These values permit calculation of the so-called “temperature error” of a watch, which is expressed in kelvin measurement units: the closer the value is to zero, the more resistant the watch to temperature fluctuations. Glashütte Original defines a tolerance range of -0.6 to +0.6 seconds per kelvin.

 

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Temperature dependency test to assess the ability to withstand fluctuations in temperature

 

Days 17 – 22 : Rate stability and testing of the total running time of 100 hours

This data provides the basis for a close look at the rate stability (resumption of rate) of the watch during the tests performed to date. Its performance in the same position, “crown left/numeral 6 up” from Days 1 and 2 is compared to the rate deviation on Day 16; the relevant permissible tolerance lies in the range from -5 to +5 seconds per day.

 

Rate stability and the testing of the total running time of 100 hours

Rate stability and the testing of the total running time of 100 hours

 

As a final step in the rate tests the total running time of at least 100 hours is put to the test. In this test the measurement values for rate deviation and amplitude at 0. 24, 48 and 72 hours are recorded using a timing machine. The rate deviation may not exceed -4 to +6 or +8 seconds (after 72 hours). In addition, sufficient amplitude must be assured each day (at least 270°, 250°, 230° and 200° respectively).

Day 23/24 : Water resistance, visual and functional tests

With the assistance of high and low pressure testing, water resistance of up to 5 bar (50 meters) is assured. A number of randomly selected models are heated on a hotplate up to 40° to 45° Celsius; a drop of cool water is then placed on the front crystal. If there were to be any moisture in the watch, at this point condensation would form on the inside surface of the crystal. A comprehensive visual examination of the watch surfaces is performed, along with a test to ensure that the manual winding and crown functions are working properly.

 

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The Senator Excellence goes through water resistance tests through the use of high and low pressure testing

 

A drop of cool water is placed on the front crystal. If moisture is present in the watch, condensation would form on the inside surface of the crystal.

A drop of cool water is placed on the front crystal. If moisture is present in the watch, condensation would form on the inside surface of the crystal.

 

Quality seal and examination certificate

It is only when all of the above elaborate tests have been completed successfully do the watchmakers at Glashütte Original award the seal of approval, in the form of a Q on the case back – a stylised representation of the promise of quality from Glashütte Original.

The inner circle of the letter stands for the high standards of German chronometer certification. The outer rings represent the different test criteria in which the Senator Excellence exceeds these requirements (test in six positions, performance in position-test device, the rate performance after 24/48/72 hours, total running time, water resistance, visual and functional examinations).

 

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Seal of approval engraved on the Senator Excellence

 

The results of the test are provided exclusively to the owner of a Senator Excellence. The most important data and results are recorded on an individual examination certificate, which is provided with every Senator Excellence upon purchase. In addition, the owner is assigned a personal access and QR code providing exclusive access to the Calibre 36 secure online portal, where all information regarding the performance of the owner’s watch is set out in detail.

 

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An individual examination certificate is presented along with the watch to the owner, carrying all the test results of that individual watch

 

The entire process from end-to-end subjects the watch to an extensive amount of tests that seeks to ensure both performance and functionality of the watch before it is being delivered into the hands of the customer. We thought it was also a brilliant idea to get the owner involved in some way by allowing them to access the technical data relating to the test results as well as presenting an examination certificate to them. This gives the owner some form of guarantee and assurance that they can only expect the best from Glashütte Original and nothing less than that. By doing so, it helps to build a stronger reputation for the brand in terms of promising high quality timepieces that are characterised by its precision, stability and eye-catching aesthetics.

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