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Review: Glashutte Original PanoMaticDate

Nestling in the Glashütte valley under the shadow of the mighty A. Lange & Söhne, Glashütte Original is something of an underdog when compared to its better-known German brother. As rivalries go, it’s unquestionable that the Richemont-owned über-watchmaker is making more headlines than Glashütte Original, but does that mean it’s a clear-cut decision between the two when it comes to picking out a timepiece? We’re not so sure . . .

At just £6,000, with the Glashütte Original you get more than what you pay for

Located quite literally a minute’s walk down the road from A. Lange & Söhne, the Glashütte Original headquarters is no garden-shed outfit. The modern, spacious building houses almost everything needed to build watches from the ground up, from the production of specialist tooling, to final assembly and testing. High-tech processes such as spark erosion sit alongside traditional skills like hand engraving, while components are tested for precision up to a thousandth of a millimetre. Over ninety-five percent of the parts in a finished Glashütte Original watch originate in-house.

So that’s now, but where did the brand come from? A. Lange & Söhne, the watchmaker down the road, has the answers. In the 1950s, following the Second World War, A. Lange & Söhne was merged with a handful of other German watchmakers and nationalised under the name Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB). The privatisation of GUB in 1990 saw the rebirth of A. Lange & Söhne, with Glashütte Original rising from the ashes of the former national organisation four years later.

The galvanised silver dial uses a variety of finishes to add striking contrast despite its apparent simplicity

As far as heritage goes, fifty years of combined knowledge from the best German watchmakers is a great place to start. It goes some way to explaining the distinct similarities between this Glashütte Original PanoMaticDate and A. Lange & Söhne’s Lange 1, but there’s no ignoring one prominent difference—the price. A. Lange & Söhne’s Lange 1 costs a heady £24,600; the Glashütte Original equivalent is just £6,000. Granted, the A. Lange & Söhne is white gold, but that alone doesn’t account for a difference of over £18,000.

Side by side, the difference is clear—you get what you pay for with A. Lange & Söhne. With Glashütte Original, however, you get more than what you pay for. In today’s market, £6,000 buys a lot less premium watch than it used to, so the spec sheet for the PanoMaticDate (or any of its contemporaries, like the PanoMaticLunar or PanoReserve) is a joy to read. The galvanised silver dial goes well beyond the plain finishes we’re used to seeing; the big date, with its clean actuation and crisp print, is a rarity at this price point; and the calibre 90-01 is masterful work of art that is the icing, cherry and chocolate sprinkles on an already delicious cake.

The self-winding calibre 90-01 is an example of some of the finest watchmaking in Germany

That’s 21-carat gold you’re seeing there in that movement, a whole chunk of it used to accelerate the micro-rotor into a controlled spin. And around it there’s not a surface left unfinished, an edge left unbevelled—the hand-engraved balance bridge, inlaid with gold, is spoiling us by this point. Look closer and the brand’s history becomes apparent, the GUB logo peeking out from behind the balance wheel. Could a watch enthusiast want for more?

If you're considering splashing out on one of A. Lange & Söhne’s finest, perhaps it’s worth considering the watchmaker next door first. Glashütte Original may not have quite the same cachet, but as far as watchmaking goes, it’s hard to ignore. And at a quarter the price of the Lange 1, ignoring it just got even harder.

Twin swan neck regulators straddle the hand-engraved balance bridge, inlaid with 21-carat gold

Watch Spec | Glashütte Original PanoMaticDate

Case | Stainless steel Dimensions | 39mm Crystal | Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance | 30m Movement | Calibre 90-01, automatic Frequency | 28,800vph Power Reserve | 42 hours Strap | Leather Functions | Time, big date RRP | £6,000