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Review: Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition

by Frank Chuo on April 30, 2018

Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition

Since its inception in 2016, Glashütte Original’s Senator Excellence line has graced us with some impressive timepieces. Watches from the Senator Excellence collection are as reliable as they are elegant; they are powered by the Calibre 36, which those in the know recognise as a notably precise movement. Last year, the brand built on the base Calibre 36 with the Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar. For 2018, the Senator Excellence line begets a new iteration of its perpetual calendar model that is both skeletonised and produced in a limited series. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on the new Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition that was presented at Baselworld 2018.

 

The case, dial, and hands

The case of the new Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition is crafted in 18k white gold and is unmissably German in build. At 42 mm in diameter and 12.8 mm in thickness, the watch is neither overbearing nor dainty. The contemporarily sized case is brushed on the flanks and polished on the bezel and lugs (top only) for contrast. Overall, not much with regards to casing has changed compared to preceding models.

 

The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition has a relatively thin bezel, maximising the impact of the dial.

 

The dial, however, is almost unrecognisable; Glashütte Original has (partially) skeletonised the dial to implement a more modern design, boldly diverging from last year’s classical variants. Finely cut out from within the generous dimensions of the matte grey dial ring are the Panorama Date, moon phase, day, month and leap year displays, each accented discreetly with a stepped frame. The central cut-out shifts the centre of attention to the technical aspects of the galvanic grey module cover plate, whose openings reveal the interplay of the calendar discs. An elaborate hand-guilloched geometric motif adorns the movement’s cover plate, its sweeping lines broken only by individual jewels. Crafted in blued steel are the central hour, minute and seconds hands, as well as the leap year hand, all of which look absolutely electrifying.

 

The guilloched motif on the dial dances with light and is entrancing.

 

Our initial grasp of market sentiments suggests that the design and aesthetics of Glashütte Original’s newest Senator Excellence timepiece are – in diplomatic terms – an acquired taste. While the brand’s intention of showcasing the movement is perfectly sound, its execution leaves much to be desired, and is where we feel the watch misses the mark. Firstly, the central cut-out of the dial is rather rough on the edges and awkwardly shaped. Secondly, the cover plate itself is neither an interesting nor an attractive part of the movement to display – if there ever was a beauty pageant for movement parts, it would probably come last. While the guilloche work is nothing short of mesmerising (credit given where credit is due), its splendour is nullified by the seemingly random holes on the plate. Make no mistake, there will be suitors who delight in the technical and industrial vibe of the dial; the rest, unfortunately, might find the look to be the antithesis of luxury.

 

The holes in the cover plate serve to uncover what goes on behind the scenes albeit at the expense of design coherence.

The movement

The Calibre 36 that has powered the Senator Excellence line from day one is as solid as they come. The 49-jewel, automatic Calibre 36-02 encased within the Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition measures 32.2 mm in diameter and 7.35 mm in thickness. It has a minimum power reserve of 100 hours while operating at a modern 4 Hz beat rate. The balance comes with four 14k gold regulation screws, a swan neck regulator, incabloc shock protection, and an amagnetic silicon hairspring. The Calibre 36 is well-known for its precision and stability,  with quality control exceeding that of COSC standards. Each Senator Excellence timepiece comes with a certificate confirming that the watch has been thoroughly tested for 24 days in the Saxon manufactory, the results of which can be accessed by the owner online.

 

The Calibre 36-02 has a three-quarter plate architecture inspired from Saxon pocket watches of old.

 

Finishing on the Calibre 36-02 is attractive for its price point with polished steel parts, blued screws, Glashütte ribbing, bevelled edges, and a skeletonised central rotor. All in all, the Calibre 36-02 – which can be viewed through the sapphire crystal case back – impresses not just in function and performance, but also in form.

The competitive landscape

The marketplace for perpetual calendar watches is competitive and saturated; almost every brand worth its own salt has at least one. The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition is the latest in a long line of perpetual calendar watches to come out of the Glashütte Original manufactory. Limited (as the name would suggest) to only 100 pieces, the watch is priced at SGD55,100 (or EUR32,900) with a white gold pin buckle and SGD58,600 (or EUR35,000) with a white gold folding clasp.

 

The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition is matched with blue Louisiana alligator leather straps and comes with a limited edition box.

 

Several steps up the pricing ladder sits the A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual at SGD110,500 (or about EUR68,000). Nestled in the same neighbourhood as Glashütte Original, A. Lange & Söhne thrives in the ultra-luxury section of the market and makes watches that really make you question the definition of haute horlogerie. What mainly separates the Langematik Perpetual from the Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition is finissage. Significantly more time, effort and money is spent on the aesthetics and finishing of the Langematik Perpetual, including the Sax-0-Mat movement inside it. It is simply why it looks so refined. And while the Langematik Perpetual is considered contemporary in design, it is still strongly rooted to tradition. The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition deviates from the path of tradition way further in comparison. The real question is: is the Langematik Perpetual actually worth two whole Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Editions? Well, if you strongly value fine finishing in watchmaking, then yes. Otherwise, design preference notwithstanding, you may be better off with the Glashütte Original.

 

The black-dialled A. Lange & Sohne Langematik Perpetual is arguably the most popular version of the timepiece.

 

Should the Langematik Perpetual be too decadent a watch, look no further than the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar in stainless steel with a black dial. If there ever was a watch no one could dislike, this would be it. The watch has been unanimously praised by the community since its debut not just for its dashing looks, but also for the value it offers. For ‘just’ about EUR19,800, one gets a gorgeously designed watch with a respectable movement from one of the most revered maisons in watchmaking. The Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is a must-consider for anyone looking for a perpetual calendar timepiece, regardless of financial standing.

 

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar, one of the most value-for-money timepieces that feature the perpetual calendar complication.

 

Final thoughts

The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition has proven to be a controversial new release by Glashütte Original. In our opinion, the design of the dial lacks elegance and purpose. But that aside, the rest of the watch, especially the movement, is a celebration in our book. As the saying goes, one man’s poison is another man’s meat – and as such, we know the watch will still find homes on wrists regardless of our thoughts on the dial!

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