The Glashütte Original Sixties Chronograph Annual Edition 2023
It looks like 2023 has been a good year in Glashütte.
While the rest of the Swatch Group turns its attention to the blockbuster release of the Swatch x Blancpain Sistem 51/Fifty Fathoms collaboration (or the “51 Fathoms” as I like to call it), Glashütte Original is transcending this hype, getting on with its typically Teutonic business.
For years, the Sixties Chronograph collection has been a flagship model for the brand. Its annual editions, alongside those in my preferred Seventies Chronograph collection, are the stuff of legend. Unexpected and adored, the playful use of color and texture is a salve for eyes sore from studying Bauhaus inspired after Bauhaus inspired watches. This annual treat shows the world that while brands from Glashütte rarely make waves in regard to color, when they do, the waves are positively tidal.
Succinctly, there is nothing new about this release bar the colorway. The watch, like its forerunners in the Sixties Chronograph collection, is 42 mm wide, 12.4 mm thick, and a solid 48.5 mm lug-to-lug. Glashütte Original likes to brag about the exceptional thinness of this case, which, given it houses an automatic chronograph, is actually fair enough.
In 2020, I devised a measurement system (called the Visual Impact Index) that intended to give us a better idea of a watch’s perceived size due to a combination of its black and white measurements. To cut a long equation short, the projected “ideal” case thickness of a watch with a 42 mm diameter, lands somewhere around 13.125 mm (a figure derived by dividing the case’s radius by 1.6 — a simplified numerical representation of the Golden Ratio).
The Glashütte Original Sixties Chronograph, therefore, is exceptionally slim by any account, but its perceived slimness does not stop there.
The thinness of the bezel and thus the broad, impactful dial adds to the watch’s apparent width, making it sit even lower profile against the wrist. The domed crystal on the front (and the shaped crystal on the back) also turn down the volume on a piece that, without such sympathetic styling, would be deafening loud.
By now, you will surely have happened upon the drawback of all this visual trickery: a watch case of these dimensions, harboring a movement of such functionality, is all well and good, but we cannot have it all. The water resistance suffers and, as a result of its elegance, the Glashütte Original Sixties Chronograph Annual Edition 2023 in warm gray is guaranteed to survive no deeper than 3 bar.
The 39-34 caliber beating away within this artfully proportioned case remains unchanged. The balance spring is still listed as Anachron, which seems a slight shame to me given that the 37-02 panoramic date caliber in the Seventies edition has a silicon spiral these days.
However, other than my preference for the silicon hairspring as a mark of progress, there is little to choose between the functionality of these two core chronograph calibers produced by one of Glashütte’s most storied of companies. Caliber 39-34 operates at 28,800 vph, has a robust 70-hour power reserve, and a 21-karat oscillating mass to hammer home its luxury credentials.
I love the warm gray of the dial and its “rose gold” accents. The rod-shaped hands in 5N red gold are particularly welcome for the dash of class they bring to proceedings as well as their era-appropriate brutalism. The hands of all Sixties models follow the same pattern and I feel Glashütte Original deserves a little more credit for adhering to the source material despite the hands, in isolation of the vibrant dials, being quite basic.
As it happens, their interaction with the extravagantly textured dial surfaces we’re used to seeing from most (although not all) annual editions is soothing. They pair nicely too with the cut-out hour markers that surround the dial and accurately nod to the period of this watch line’s inspiration.
Those little slashed hour indices actually reveal the dial’s base material, which, in this instance, is bronze. Bronze is an unusual choice for dial blanks with brass or precious metals usually chosen. Here, bronze has obviously been selected for its chromatic harmony with the rose gold-plated hands and cost-effectiveness on a model slated to retail for under five figures.
While I firmly advocate for the use of sapphire crystals in place of their plexiglass alternatives based simply on day-to-day resilience to knocks, snuffs, and scratches, this is certainly one of the very few models that have chosen to go with sapphire that I might suggest made the wrong decision. Now, to my knowledge, Glashütte Original has no in-house capacity to produce Plexi crystals, but we know full well that the technology exists within the Swatch Group (Omega, we’re looking at you), and so perhaps it might be nice to see the warmth and vintage vibes of a hesalite crystal deployed on this line in the future?
Not everything GO does is done on-site, after all. Those dials, which, let’s be honest, are what most people outside of Germany probably know about the brand, are made in the brand’s dedicated dial factory in Pforzheim. Perhaps the Swatch Group should look to buy up a few more specialist suppliers and really double down on the Sixties Chronograph’s throwback credentials.
Glashütte Original Sixties Chronograph Annual Edition 2023
Movement: Automatic chronograph movements 39-34
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and 30-minute chronograph
Cases: 42 mm × 12.4 mm × 48.5 mm stainless steel, water-resistant to 30 m
Dial: Stamped texture in warm gray with rose gold accents
Strap: Dark blue synthetic strap with pin buckle
Price: USD 8,700
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FROM THE SHOP
|Movement||Self-winding caliber BR.CAL-301; 42-hour power reserve|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date|
|Case||41mm; CuAI7Si2 bronze; water resistant to 100m|
|Dial||Sunray brushed with applied, gold-plated indices|
|Strap||Black calfskin; satin polished bronze folding clasp|
|Limited Edition||Limited edition of 50 pieces|