The Two Formal References of the 2016 Glashütte Original Senator Excellence
The 2016 Senator Excellence with white dial in steel (left) and rose gold (right).
With 2016 coming to a close, I wanted to make sure we posted a review on the Glashütte Original Senator Excellence. Though only a three-hand watch with no complication, the Senator Excellence is probably the most signficant watch from Glashütte Original since we became a dealer in 2011. The reason for its significance is the introduction of Calibre 36, a movement that combines the hallmarks of Germany and the brand (three-quarter base plate, swan neck regulator, incredible plate decoration) with the best innovations of Swiss component manufacturer Nivarox. This post examines two of the three references in the Senator Excellence collection, namely the formal white dials in both steel and 18kt rose gold. In 2017, we will be getting the Senator Excellence Panorama Date & Panorama Date with Moonphase options, but let's look back at the basic Senator Excellence.
The fit and finish of Glashütte Original movements rival the quality of virtually any movement manufacturer, however, they have just now began to participate in collaborative component manufacture in the same way as some of the other luxury brands at the Swatch Group. Examples of such collaborations are OMEGA's co-axial escapement, the Blancpain Bathyscaphe silicon hairspring and balance wheel, and Breguet's silicon escape wheel and levers.
The Senator Excellence is similar to the Senator Automatic models though with some important differences. Even though both pieces are 40mm and approximately 10mm thick (the Senator Automatic is 9.9mm while the Excellence is 10mm on the nose) the tone is less formal on the Excellence. Instead of featuring twelve Roman Numerals, only the twelve and six are Roman. The other hours feature baton style markers with small Arabic five-minute indicators just inside the minute track. It's a subtle change that makes the tone of the watch a little more lighthearted. Similarly, instead of a case that is almost entirely high polish, the Senator Excellence is a combination of brushed and high polished with most of the larger surfaces being brushed.
While the color the dials are very similar between the Senator Excellence and Senator Automatic, the process to make them is not. Like the Senator Chronometer, the Excellence features laser engraved hour markers that give the dial added depth. The dial also features a lighter scale varnishing process of the famous 70-step l'argenture grainée. Like the Chronometer, the brass dial surface is media blasted with a mixture of water, chalk, and wood. Then a powder and water paste is applied by hand to the blasted surface to produce the attractive and unique varnish grainé dial. Like the Senator Automatic, the dial is most often described as "Silver" though it is really more of an eggshell white.
The new Calibre 36 features the familiar visual hallmarks present in the Calibre 39 of the Senator Automatic and that you've come to expect from all Glashütte Original timepieces, including the famous three-quarter plate, skeletonised rotor, swan neck regulator, and stripe finish. The first major difference of the two movements is the size. Though the Calibre 36 is only .2mm taller than the 4.3mm Calibre 39, it is much larger. The Calibre 36 features a 32.3mm versus 26.2mm case for the Calibre 39. This allows for an attractive combination of thin case back and a movement that fills the case to the edge. The Senator Excellence also features the heat-blued screws found on Glashütte Original's more complicated models such as the Senator Panomatic Lunar.
The new Calibre 36 of the Senator Excellence with its manual winding chain (left side of movement) and skeletonized rotor proudly presented.
The sapphire caseback reveals the regulator-free oscillation system of the Calibre 36 movement which is tested in a COSC besting six different positions.
The Calibre 36 as seen through the case back of the 18kt rose gold Senator Excellence.
Glashütte Original's partnership with Nivarox is about maintaining two objectives: Longer power reserve and constant rate. While the Calibre 39 features a 40-hour power reserve, the Calibre 36 boasts an impressive 100-hour power reserve with just one barrel. This larger power reserve was accomplished by reducing the size of the arbor (think axle that the mainspring winds around) within the barrel to allow more room for a larger mainspring. Controlling the beat rate of that large mainspring is a specially designed silicon hairspring. A traditional drawback to high power reserve single barrel movements is that the watches accuracy is inconsistent at various levels of charge. To address that, Glashütte Original and Nivarox designed a system between the hairspring and mainspring that provides consistency at various rates of charge. Each Senator Excellence is tested for 24 days, adjusted in six positions (one more than COSC), and comes with a certificate showing the watches performance both at low and full power.
Though they may be a touch less formal than the Senator Automatic, these watches are still formal. For those that want the Calibre 36 technology in a sportier package, they should consider the black dial variant which features lume, Arabic number indices, and pilot style hands. For those that want a technically advanced German luxury watch, the Senator Excellence is a first rate timepiece.
The steel Senator Excellence models retail for $9,700 and the 18kt rose gold retails for $17,700.
For current pricing and availability on these pieces or any other timepiece from Glashütte Original, please contact Topper Fine Jewelers by phone at 650-347-2221 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional photos of all three Senator Excellence variants including wrist and lume shots are below.
Comparing rose gold options of the Senator Excellence (left) and the more formal Senator Automatic (right).
Case side views of the rose gold Senator Excellence (left) and Senator Automatic (right).
The white dial and steel version of the 2016 Glashütte Original Senator Excellence.
The upper dial and hand set of the white dial Senator Excellence in steel.
A look at the bezel, lugs, and alligator strap of the white dial in steel option.
The right side dial, minute track, and crown of the white dial in steel Senator Excellence.
The white dial and 18kt rose gold version of the 2016 Glashütte Original Senator Excellence.
The upper dial and hand set of the white dial Senator Excellence in 18kt rose gold.
The right side dial, minute track, red five-minute indices, and crown of the white dial in 18kt rose gold Senator Excellence.
A crown side view of the 18kt rose gold variant of the Senator Excellence.
The black dial and steel version of the 2016 Glashütte Original Senator Excellence.
The pilot style hands set, Arabic number indices, and minute track of the black dial in steel Senator Excellence.
A look at the bezel, lugs, and alligator strap of the black dial in steel Senator Excellence.
The lume signature of the black dial in steel. The only lumed option for the Senator Excellence.
A Burlingame Avenue wrist shot of the white dial in steel Senator Excellence.
A side view wrist shot of the white dial in steel Senator Excellence.
A Burlingame Avenue wrist shot of the white dial in 18kt rose gold Senator Excellence.
A side view wrist shot of the white dial in 18kt rose gold Senator Excellence.
A Burlingame Avenue wrist shot of the black dial in steel gold Senator Excellence.
A side view wrist shot of the black dial in steel Senator Excellence.The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.