The Art of Engineering: Glashütte Original’s Pano CollectionBy Bhanu Chopra
The Pano Collection from Glashütte Original includes seven models that effortlessly cross the line between exceptional traditional watchmaking and unexpectedly modern design. Characterized by asymmetrical displays, like an off-centered large panoramic date window, a signature feature of Glashütte Original, and a set of multifaceted complications, the collection offers a variety of timepieces to satisfy any taste. From the simply elegant to the extravagantly ornate, each watch embodies the Glashütte Original principles of haute horlogerie and attention to the minutest of details. Indeed, each timepiece evokes different emotions with their asymmetrical design, hand- engraved details, and whimsical view of proportion and negative space.
The Pano series complications include Flying Tourbillon, flyback chronograph, moonphase, power reserve display, and the so-called Panorama Date. In short, there is truly something for everyone in this extraordinary collection.
The first “Pano” made its appearance in 2001 with the PanoRetroGraph. This flyback chronograph was the first mechanical watch to feature a 30-minute countdown and a triple-repetition chime that announced the end of a timed event. It was awarded “Watch of the Year” in 2001 by readers of the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag and the German specialist magazine Armbanduhren for its innovations. Today, it continues to be a collectible and much sought after model.
The PanoRetroGraph features the offset hours and minutes configuration with overlapping small seconds that would become a hallmark of the models to follow in its pioneering footsteps.
In 2008, the PanoInverse XL was the first Glashütte Original to feature an inverted dial design that would bring the mechanical components that typically remained obscured in the rear of the watch, to the front of the dial for display, allowing the wearer to admire the mastery of Glashütte watchmaking without removing the timepiece from the wrist. The ability to admire the movement and the architecture of the watch with a glance at the wrist is an immensely satisfying feeling.
This is an unusual and novel complication fitted with caliber 96-01, featuring a column-wheel chronograph with flyback function and a counter complication — to count anything from 0 to 99 forwards or backwards! The counter complication module alone is constructed of 217 parts developed by the Glashütte Original manufacture. The timepiece is masculine with a striking matte black dial and stainless steel case in 44 mm. The watch is paired with a black alligator leather strap to continue the colorway while adding a touch of texture. The red numbers of the counter add a pop of color and easily distinguish between the Panorama Date.
A red gold case frames a serene and creamy dial of galvanized silver featuring an offset hours and minutes dial, a small seconds subdial, a 30-minute flyback chronograph counter, a subtle color-coordinated panoramic date window, all possible with the in-house manual winding caliber 61-03 with integrated column- wheel chronograph. The classic brown Louisiana alligator leather strap lends a timeless sense of quality.
Building upon the PanoGraph’s galvanic silver dial, Glashütte Original raises the stakes with a Flying Tourbillon complication. The applied hour indexes and hands are in red gold, with hour and minute display turned out for visual depth, and a cut-out in the dial at six o’clock reveals the stunning Flying Tourbillon. The colorful moonphase with gold-colored moon against a deep blue starry sky, adds a visual depth and playfulness to a rather serious complication. In 2020, Glashütte Original surprised us with a limited edition featuring ornate hand engraving of the silver-plated gold dial, revealing the gold-worked Flying Tourbillon at six o’clock on the offset dial.
The PanoMaticLunar is the bestselling timepiece for Glashütte Original, and in my humble opinion, has come to be the defining watch for the brand. A well-balanced asymmetric display includes an offset hour and minute dial, a small seconds subdial nested at the six o’clock position, the Panorama Date and a whimsical moonphase.
The model is offered in a variety of dial colors including lush green, galvanized silver, fine matte black, and deep blue. The case choices include gold and stainless steel, and are offered with a matching alligator leather strap or a sporty stainless steel bracelet. My favorite dial and case combination is the lush green dial in a red gold case with a green alligator leather strap.
Another well-balanced offering with a useful complication fitted with a manual winding movement, the dial features offset hours and minutes, the overlapped small seconds subdial, the Panorama Date window and a power reserve indicator. Like PanoMaticLunar, it is offered in a variety of colorways including silver dial, black dial or blue dial paired with red gold or stainless steel case and coordinating alligator leather strap or stainless steel bracelet.
The breakthrough inverted dial design showcases the in-house movement with the duplex swan-neck fine adjustment assembly. Painstakingly hand engraved with delicate swirls in gold, the assembly contrasts well with the structured stripes engraved on the silver three-quarter plate that serves as background to the hour and minute dial, and small seconds subdial in a simple ring of coordinating silver. Pops of color from the blue hands, perlage on the baseplate, exposed rubies, and blued screws add the perfect finish to this marvel of a watch. This watch is available in a red gold case with a brown Louisiana alligator nubuck leather strap or stainless steel case with a blue alligator leather strap or stainless steel bracelet.
This watch offers the inverted dial design from the PanoMaticInverse but with a manual winding movement and power reserve indicator to complete the balanced layout. The colorway is slightly different with a galvanized black striped three-quarter plate and contrasting matte black hour and minute dial and seconds subdial. A power reserve indicator and subtle gold chatons add a subtle contrast to the display. The swan-neck fine adjustment is in silver to create a simple harmony with the darker dial and stainless steel case. The PanoInverse is available with a matching gray Louisiana alligator nubuck leather strap or a stainless steel bracelet.
PanoInverse Platinum Limited Edition
Twenty years after the reveal of that first award-winning Pano, Glashütte Original is adding the latest model to a collection that exemplifies the art of engineering and creativity. Brand CEO Roland von Keith stated, “I encourage our product and production team to be creative and bring forth ideas. Ultimately, creativity breathes new life into the existing timepieces that resonate with watch collectors and enthusiasts.”
I recently visited the manufacture to see the 2021 collection. The PanoInverse Platinum Limited Edition design is inspired from the glass dome that sits atop the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts and the timepiece has incorporated the marvel of architectural details from that structure into many aspects of the watch. This special model is limited to only 25 pieces.
The Dresden Academy of Fine Arts was built in 1894 and has educational roots that date back as far as the Zeichnen-und Malerschule institution of 1680. Dedicated to fostering artistic talents, the glass dome of the main building — also known as the “Lemon Squeezer ” by locals due to the pleated fold design — has become a landmark of the town. It’s no accident that Glashütte Original chose to honor the institution that has fostered countless artistic talents over the centuries as it explores the beauty and art of architecture, engineering and mechanical design.
The PanoInverse Platinum Limited Edition features the signature three-quarter plate with impressive guilloché engraving and a partially skeletonized baseplate. There are so many details to see on this inverted dial, that it requires a good loupe to appreciate the thoughtful design and hand work put forth by the watchmakers and engravers at Glashütte Original. The engraving has an unmistakable resemblance to the geometric pattern formed by the pleating in the academy’s dome. The baseplate is partially skeletonized, allowing a clear view through the sapphire crystal to mimic the dome’s many panes of glass.
The inverted design brings the intricate and fascinating balance wheel to the front of the dial, drawing the eye, much like the golden sculpture of Pheme or Fama that captures the imagination from her position at the top of the dome. The designers were thoughtful in their exploration of the importance of form as it follows function, and the result is a timepiece that balances between art and science.
Surrounded by a 42mm platinum case, the PanoInverse follows the blueprint for the collection with a varnished gray lacquered hour and minute dial, and a matching, overlapping small seconds subdial that cuts into the minute track with architectural precision. Under the loupe, you can notice the vibrantly textured surface of the off-centered dial.
Applied baton indexes stand proud against the textured gray dial and the skeletonized slender sword hands are elegant and dainty in the middle of the display, mirroring the delicate wings lifting from Pheme or Fama’s shoulders.
A power reserve indicator is nestled among the colorful display of heated blued screws and rubies. Two prominent chatons held in place with three minuscule blued screws are a subtle reminder of the attention to detail and precise mechanical mastery at work.
The skeleton work around the balance bridge adds an almost unsettling negative space, drawing attention to the focal point for the most impressive aspect of the timepiece — the escapement assembly and the balance wheel.
Glashütte Original’s caliber 66-09 is a hand wound movement exposing the signature three-quarter plate on front of the dial. The belle of the ball for the PanoInverse movement is the balance bridge and duplex swan-neck fine adjustment system, engineered to sit flush with the dial for a balanced aesthetic. This is a well-executed merging of classical and modernist architecture that exposes the mechanical movement typically hidden beneath the wrist in a way that turns the functional into the fascinating.
The in-house movement delivers a power reserve of around 42 hours, visible with a retrograde power reserve indicator. The fine finishing includes plates and bridges with special guilloché engraving, duplex swan-neck fine adjustment, screw balance with 18 weighted screws, and heat-blued screws.
It’s paired with a coordinating matte finish gray color strap made from Louisiana alligator nubuck leather with a folding clasp.
The PanoInverse Platinum Limited Edition adds a touch of imagination and rebelliousness to a strong line of timepieces. With inspiration drawn from the beauty of the dome of the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, and the excitement of the unexpected, this timepiece is a fine example of Glashütte Original’s watchmaking art and engineering.
Glashütte Original PanoInverse Platinum Limited Edition
Movement: Manual winding caliber 66-09; 42-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds
Case: 42mm; platinum; water resistant to 50m
Strap: Gray Louisiana alligator leather
Price: USD 45,700
Availability: Limited to 25 pieces, and sold exclusively in Glashütte Original boutiques