Interview: Thomas Meier, CEO Glashütte Original

An engineer, business post-graduate and qualified watchmaker, Thomas Meier worked within the Swatch Group for 23 years before becoming CEO of Glashütte Original in October 2016.

You have been CEO at Glashütte Original for a year now. What is your take on the company?

Being a watchmaker and engineer myself, I take great pride in being CEO of a true manufacture, where the design and production process – from the first idea to the final assembly of the watch – takes place almost entirely in-house. The time, love and attention dedicated to the making and finishing of every single component is tremendous. This is really rare in the industry.

How would you describe the brand to someone who has never encountered it?

I would summarise it in two words: “original understatement”. Complicated and lavishly decorated on the inside, but very pure and easy to read on the outside – that’s the unmistakable mix of aesthetic clarity and ingenious engineering that distinguishes our timepieces and our brand. That is Glashütte Original.

What have been the main challenges so far?

The best moments have involved meeting our team and getting to know the many great and highly-motivated people behind the brand, the excellent staff both at our home in Glashütte and around the world. The love, attention and passion that they dedicate to our timepieces is a true inspiration for me. In terms of challenges, we are facing one of the biggest difficulties of the watch industry – which is to keep up with the growing international demand for our timepieces – but I think we are doing this with confidence.

What do you see as the unique qualities of Glashütte Original that make it stand out from other brands?

We are an authentic German watch manufacture and proud to make almost all movement components, as well as our dials, in-house. Our functional approach to design, the solid construction and precision of our timekeepers, the amount of in-house work along with our uninterrupted history of 170 years makes Glashütte Original unique.

You mentioned your dial factory. Tell us about that.

Our dial manufactory truly is an amazing asset. It is there that we produce dials exclusively for Glashütte Original timepieces. It provides us with the unique ability to react quickly to market demands, while strictly controlling the quality of the face of the watch. Dial-making is so important to us that it is included in our research and development process.

The Calibre 36 received critical acclaim when it was unveiled in 2016. How are you building on that?

With our Senator Excellence line [which houses the Calibre 36] we have not only redefined our own standards, but we have launched an innovative generation of timepieces that exactly addresses the customer’s needs for beautiful, highly-functional yet easy-to-use products, and most of all we offer genuine substance. We have been extending and evolving that line. With the introduction of the Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar this year, it has been enriched with one of the highest complications in the art of watchmaking and we will continue furthering that line in the future.

Are we likely to see another in-house calibre from Glashütte Original soon?

As part of our highly integrated production process, we take great pride in our in-house design and product development, which is not only working on extensions and modifications for existing lines and calibres, but also on the construction of new movements for the years to come.

We like to disrupt and innovate in many ways, such as the coloured-dial versions of the Sixties Iconic collection launched in 2015 and 2016. These limited-edition pieces were a huge success and you will definitely see more surprises in 2018 – but I won’t say more, as I don’t want to spoil it.

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