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The making of the Glashütte Original Vintage dials

by Peter Chong on February 14, 2019
Watches

The Glashütte Original Sixties dial are unique in the industry. Here we take a peek at the twenty-five separate steps are required to lend these timepieces their unique faces, all of which are performed in the Glashütte Original dial manufactory in Pforzheim, where the contemporary, essentially manual process continues to draw inspiration from the past.

The making of a special dial

It starts with the precise punching of the German silver blank.

Next, the elaborate embossed surface is created by a 60-tonne press. The pattern is stamped onto the blank. This is the same process used more than 50 years ago in Pforzheim. The embossing punch used today, with its filigreed decoration, dates from this period.

Once the press has completed its imposing task, the blank is cut to its definitive diameter, and a hole is inserted at the centre for the hands. A second pass under a press lends the disc, which is only 0.5 mm thick, its characteristic domed perimeter. Here, too, there are connections to history: whereas in the 1960s the domed shape served to mask the height of the movement – much thicker at the time than today’s movements – so as to follow the trend for flatter watches, today the curved edges are a characteristic element of the Sixties line’s vintage design. In the meantime, contemporary automatic movements like the three-hand model’s Calibre 39-52 now fit easily into a case barely 10 millimetres high. The Calibre 39-47, which drives the Sixties Panorama Date, measures 12.4 millimetres in height.

And with that, the size, shape and structure are fixed. The subsequent steps in the process transform the semi-processed blank into the face of the timepiece. Several coats of vibrant green lacquer are applied to the previously galvanised dial before it receives its “dégradé” finish. This effect is achieved by spraying on black paint, with great care and in such a way that the dial perimeter takes on a much darker hue than at its centre, resulting in an individual colour gradient that renders each dial unique. The lacquered dials are then heated in a kiln to burn in the colours.

A diamond cuts through these layers to form eight of the twelve hour indexes. This renders the raw material visible once again, so that the hours in the Sixties Annual Edition are counted in German silver – and in white.

Cutting the dial for the index to be inserted.

The numerals 3, 6, 9 and 12 are printed in white in the remaining gaps, using a pad printing process. The Glashütte Original logo and the logo-scripts “Glashütte i/Sa” (Glashütte in Saxony) and “Made in Germany” are also applied in the same way.

Transfer printing the dial.

The final step in this elaborate process consists in the application of Super-LumiNova. Small dots are applied by hand to the hour indexes, which develop their luminous force in the dark. Together with the radiant bars on the hour and minute hands, they ensure that the Sixties models are perfectly legible by night as well.

Superluminova is applied to the indices.
The process from left to right.

Here is the finished dial as it appears on the Sixties watch. Our full review here.

The Sixties Panorama Date annual edition.
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