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Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I literally feel as though I am wearing a beautiful clock on my wrist while donning the Glashütte Original Senator Observer watch. New for 2015, this latest entrant in the Glashütte Original Senator family blends sporty sophistication with classical appeal. This, in my opinion, makes it a win for many tastes. We liked the Glashütte Original Senator Observer so much that we included it in our list of The Top 10 Watches Of Baselworld 2015. So now, after wearing the watch for a while, how does it live up to our initial excitement?

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Perhaps the most important difference between the specific Glashütte Original Senator Observer watch we covered in our hands-on piece and this review model is the bracelet. While the watch we handled for our hands-on article back in April of 2015 has a black calf leather strap, I requested this review model to be on the available steel bracelet. It was good news that we were able to get this because, in my opinion, the bracelet really transforms the Glashütte Original Senator Observer into a different watch from a visual standpoint. It doesn’t hurt that the bracelet is very uniquely engineered and great to wear.

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

So let’s get the topic of the bracelet out of the way. Honestly, the watch looks good on the black leather strap or the bracelet – and people of good taste can easily disagree on which helps the watch be more handsome. I personally happen to have a favorable bias toward good bracelets, so I am partial to the Glashütte Original Senator Observer on this bracelet.

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

From the outside, the steel bracelet is a three-link style with a polished center link and brushed outside links. Everything fits together very snugly, and there are no gaps between the lugs. Simply wearing or running the bracelet over your fingers will allow you to appreciate the incredibly tight tolerances involved in producing the bracelet links.

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

What really impresses me is that despite how tightly the bracelet links and parts fit together, I didn’t experience any arm hair pulling – which can often result from bracelets like this that aren’t engineered as well. With that said, your mileage may vary when it comes to hair pulling, since it really depends on the length and thickness of your arm hair (yes, really).

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Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Look at the sides of the bracelet links, and you might be surprised to see rivets but no screw heads. How exactly do you adjust the size of the bracelet? The system for that is also interesting. Glashütte Original developed for these bracelets (I don’t think they are unique to the Glashütte Original Senator Observer) a “less tool-intensive” system that uses a screw-style pusher on the inside of the bracelet. Using a screw driver, you press in the screw and then turn it about 90 degrees. The screw pusher stays in a bit, and that means the adjacent link bar can be pushed out to adjust the bracelet. I know that doesn’t sound much simpler than unscrewing a bar, but it does at the very least make for a more “engineered” system – a system that only took me about 10 minutes to figure out. Instances like this really make me wish watch brands included an instruction manual with things such as how to adjust the bracelet links.

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In addition to all that, the bracelet features a push-button micro-adjust. This has been around on some Glashütte Original bracelets in the past, and I believe Glashütte Original tinkers with the system now and again to upgrade it. In order to use the micro-adjust system (similar in concept to some used by Rolex and Omega), the wearer actually presses in the Glashütte Original logo in the deployant clasp. That releases the bracelet to lengthen or contract by a few millimeters. This is very welcome, not only when initially sizing the bracelet, but to offer some “breathing room” for those times when your wrist naturally expands.

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In my opinion, there is something much more “substantial-looking” about the Glashütte Original Senator Observer on the bracelet. It has a more “casual sport” look that, in my opinion, makes it more relevant for daily wear on a lot of people’s wrists. On the black strap, the Glashütte Original Senator Observer still looks great, but feels more vintage inspired and “mature.” For the classic nautical clock look in a modern package, you should opt for the watch on the bracelet. In my opinion, the bracelet is worth the $1,500 retail premium over the leather strap on the Glashütte Original Senator Observer.

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Speaking of nautical clocks, that is what inspired the dial. Glashütte Original has another Senator watch with precisely the same movement and dial layout but in off-white and with more classic, non-lumed hands and numerals. The matte deep gray (almost black) dial serves as an excellent background for the hands and markers. Glashütte Original really took the concept of a ship’s deck clock and adopted it for use on the dial of a modern luxury sports watch. This doesn’t just feel “inspired” by a ship’s clock, it feels like a successful emulation of one.

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Part of that has to do with the relatively thin and sloping polished bezel that helps the dial feel expansive within the 44mm-wide case. The slightly retro, decorative font and excellent contrast, in my opinion, make for a beautiful dial that is not only quite legible, but also durable from a stylistic standpoint. The dial isn’t perfect, however, but it doesn’t have any major flaws. Glashütte Original uses polished hands, and that polish causes some undesirable glare. A more matte finish for the exposed metal of the hands would have been more to my liking. With that said, even the subsidiary seconds and power reserve indicator hands are painted with SuperLumiNova luminant. Darkness viewing for the watch is excellent.

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Glashütte Original Senator Observer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

On the dial of the Glashütte Original Senator Observer, you have the time with subsidiary seconds dial, power reserve indicator, and a big date indicator at 6 o’clock. The dial is pleasantly symmetrical and all the hands are the proper length. To describe the dial as “Germanic” would be too obvious – even though it certainly is. I prefer to simply say that the dial of the Glashütte Original Senator Observer is a wonderful interpretation of a precision clock for professionals that would have looked at home in a prestigious hands-on work environment from 100 years ago.

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  • Much more appealing to me than the recently Moritz Grossman tourbillon also made in Glasshutte. Sure it does not have a chapter ring eating tourbillon nor a precious metal case, but otherwise you get a more readable dial (do we really need regulator style on a watch?) in the same no nonsense German style with the trailing zero knocked off the price. At $13K this is not a cheap watch but it’s far easier to see the value proposition over the MG trouby. There are a few details on this GO that aren’t my favorite things, but overall there is little to complain about and lots to love.

    • egznyc

      I basically agree with everything you’ve said. There. Now let’s find something to argue about 😉

      To continue from where we left off on the discussion of your sporty watch, which also is rated for 50m, you’ll see what Ariel has said above on this topic. Is he just … well, wrong? Or can reasonable minds differ on what one can safely do with 50m of water resistance?

      • In the Q & A article, Ariel went to say that Brands are conservative so that they don’t get into warranty arguments with customers with water damaged watches. Also, he went on to say new seals and non-tweaked cases of course do better than years old, banged up watches. So Ariel and I disagree only a little in the end. But that’s true about lots of things he and I discuss, ha ha.

  • deuxani

    I’ve seen this watch in real life and it is a beauty. It really doesn’t feel like 44mm which is good for anyone who is concerned with that. Also the movement finishing of GO is just stunning and a great step before you move to an A. Lange & Söhne. I do however think it looks much better on a leather strap instead of on a bracelet. The dial and case are very classic and the bracelet is too sporty in my opinion.

  • That’s a lot of engineering on the bracelet for a watch that shouldn’t be on a bracelet in the first place. And why is this referred to as a “sports watch”? What sport are you playing whilst wearing this? Cribbage?

  • TrevorXM

    This review really had me until it came to $13,300! This watch is really handsome and certainly more justifiably more expensive than $13,300 Panerai, but no. A Panerai is priced at three times and this watch is at least twice what it’s worth.

  • egznyc

    Fantastic looking watch. It really seems self assured despite its straddling the world of dressier and sportier watches. (It reminds me in this regard of the Omega Aqua Terra, but done very differently.) it’s highly legible in light and dark conditions. It’s something that could work with a tux or jeans and a t-shirt (sorry, Ariel; I just don’t see this working as a diver even if it were more water resistant).

    The bracelet is quite nice – and the polished center links with brushed outer links look fantastic. Now about that 50m water resistance, I sure wish there were uniform standards so we wouldn’t have to wonder whether 50m really meant “take it down ten centimeters and you’re screwed.”

    • DanW94

      Self assured – I think that’s a great characterization of GO in general. They make beautiful eye catching watches without being flashy. I was thinking they have a slight arrogance that sits just below the surface. I think this one looks better on the leather strap.

      • egznyc

        Maybe it’s the German utilitarianism at work: very well-balanced and attractive but not blingy. As for that “slight arrogance,” I would say that their $13K price tag certainly exhibits that quality 😉

        Sure, a leather strap would also rock this. And if Ariel is right to believe we don’t want to take this swimming, then maybe a leather strap would be a good reminder (“hey, this thing shouldn’t get dunked”). But on the other hand, as Mark Carson would say, 50m of water resistance sure ought to be enough for a little submersion.

  • iamcalledryan

    If I could find a deal on the leather strap version I would love to pull the trigger on it. A beaut.

    • deuxani

      You can find a new one for €7.200 already on a leather strap, so that $13.300 is just GO’s list price on a bracelet.

      • iamcalledryan

        Yes, that’s getting there. Honestly, at the sub $10k mark this is a very handsome alternative to some of the more predictable ones that don’t have the power reserve indicator.

  • Marius

    This is a cool watch with a very readable dial and a good movement. The main problem, in my opinion, is its price. At almost $12k, on a leather strap, its expansive, given that this is not a very complicated watch, and looking at the competition. For instance, for $1000 less, you could buy a JLC DeepSea Chronograph, or a Grande Reverso Calendar, both watches featuring more complicated, as well as slightly better finished movements.
    Moreover, the version with the steel bracelet, at $14k makes even less sense. At this price you can easily buy a Blancpain Bathyscaphe with the new chronograph movement (5 Hertz, flyback, etc.), or save a bit, and buy an AP Royal Oak.

  • Hannu Sivula

    “Even though it is a great watch, there is a fair amount of other options at that price level.” The last sentence is interesting. What are the other options? IWC Portuguese Automatic, sur, but what else?

    • You could buy two of these:

      • iamcalledryan

        Handsome, no doubt, but there are not many automatic subseconds up/downs out there that compete on price. Its a very particular style with the German and Northern Swiss. I think the Portuguese is one of the best alternatives, but there must be some other smaller brands in Germany competing…

        • WINKS

          Indeed, the Portugieser is quite close in style and function.

        • How about a Dornblueth & Sohn Calibre 99.2? Half the price.

          • DanW94

            Wow. Really close design wise to the GO. That’s a hand wound though, correct?

          • Yup, it’s a manual wind. I think if I was in the market, I’d enjoy handwinding a watch in this style whilst fingering the extra $6000 in my pocket.

          • DanW94

            Agreed!! More Aub/Auf with a subseconds, although totally different aesthetics than the GO and Dornbluth is this Muhle and one from Schaumburg. The Muhle is a tad cheaper and the other considerably….

          • 9lives

            I was really close on the Schaumburg up/down.. Loved pics online. I was afraid to buy it sight unseen with a no return policy.. Which is what I was offered. I considered Schaumburg and Dornbluth 99.1..total price close to the GO, but 2 watches I couldn’t try on before buying.

          • The redone chapter ring and Arabic numerals differentiate the new Senator Observer from the competition, along with the older Senator Observer.

            This watch is greater than the sum of its parts, but the price will still turn off some prospective buyers. It “feels” like Glashutte Original Prices have gone up nearly 100% in the past decade. The brand’s execution has improved, but has it improved enough to double prices?

          • iamcalledryan

            Deal!

          • spiceballs

            but no (large) date – – ?

      • WINKS

        Too bad the date wheels are white. Could have been a great watch.

        • Shinytoys

          Perhaps they’re available for a small fee to change them out…

  • WINKS

    Shame the clasp design is so pedestrian in comparison to the bracelet itself and the watch.
    It’s a bit of an eye sore…

  • 9lives

    I bought this watch last month shortly after trying it on. I preferred the leather strap. I had considered the Dornbluth 99.2 but I didn’t like the way the numerals are obscured by the subdials. I also tried on the IWC Portuguese..much thicker and wears larger to me. I also loved the more “ornate” numerals on the GO. It’s become my daily wearer x for beach and swimming.

    • Agreed. The ornate numerals and chapter ring provide significant value above replacement.

  • Agree with Ariel on most counts here.

    Notes:

    1) GO movements are finished by hand, from what I can recall from my visit to the factory. Internet research confirms this.

    2) Glashutte Original should get the hint. Hand finishing is mistaken as machine finished when the edges aren’t bevelled and polished. Back in my day, $13,000 watches were hand-bevelled. What is the world coming to?!?

    3) GO bracelets are great. Solid and comfortable. Up there with the best.

  • I_G

    Too much different typefaces on the dial.

  • Shinytoys

    Glasshutte is on the march, one is nicer than the next. Fine Germanic time pieces.

  • BNABOD

    personally feel this would look way better on a strap. that is a lot of glitz with the bracelet and all this shine around it. scratch magnet really. no doubt superbly finished but other options at a much more reasonable cost. up to you to decide.

  • spiceballs

    I think that this is a very nice offering from GO with not too bad a price for what one gets. The issue with subdials and water resistance are the primarily pushers and the Seiko chronos are a classic example of this problem. GO get around this by (I believe) by using a crown only op.

  • Patrick

    Reminds me of the IWC Portuguese. Or the Parnis 43mm PR.
    Amazingly, I prefer the eye appeal of the Parnis…..better case definition and symmetry.

  • Diverging Clear

    Glasshutte is really doing everything right. Very classy.