December 2, 2019
by David Bredan
I had ambivalent feelings when I first learned about the new Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar Rose Opaline limited edition, so I’m happy I have it in for a review to get to know it better. Basically, it’s one of those rare dressy-elegant watches with an outstanding price and design and durable appeal ratio that, for some weird reason, still comes only as a limited edition. Full review and contemplation on limited editions, here we go.
First, I thought it looked blooming gorgeous, with its — rather more rarely experienced — creative use of color on what is distinctly not a dive or sports watch, but a truly elegant one. Second, I had a positive sticker-shock (yep, that still exists), as this steel-cased watch with a spectacular GO movement retails for just under $10,000. That’s a lot of money, none of us need to be told that, but it’s also a lot of watch for it. Third among initial impressions was the blow that this is a limited edition of just 50 pieces. “Do you want to buy all fifty, or what?” — I can imagine someone out there asking. No, I do not, but I have seen (and have agreed with) the uptick in frustration among fellow watch lovers in our comments section, as well as in the comments on social media, who are disheartened by the engineered scarcity even in those alternative market segments in which they wanted to seek refuge from the steel sports watch price hike bubble. We’ll talk about all that later, but let’s begin the proper review.
The Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar has been a staple of the brand, an important and successful line of watches. Situated within the so-called “Pano” collection, the PanoMaticLunar’s name refers to its Panorama Date, its self-winding movement, and its phase of the moon indication. I marginally prefer the PanoReserve with its sharp-looking power reserve replacing the phase of the moon indication in the front. But that’s just me. That said, watches with moon phase indications are here to stay as they seem to rightfully enjoy widespread success. And the closer you look at the aperture on the PanoMaticLunar, the more you’ll grow to appreciate it, too.
At 40mm-wide, the Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar is sized right in between the (at last passing) large watch trend that would require a diameter of 42mm or larger; and the (rather new-found) traditionalist sentiment that would want something around 38mm. What’s clever here is that although 40mm is a more restrained size, the dial filling it up to the brim adds a more contemporary look to it.
The dial is neatly segmented into a sufficiently large area reserved for the running time’s three hands. These two sub-dials are visually separated from the rest of the dial with their concentric textures, a bit like those on a vinyl record. They are surrounded by a sea of silky smooth and almost eye-wateringly fine surface presented in the very same color: salmon. Glashütte Original calls this a “rose opaline” and I guess they are right with that. But for us watch nerds — even though we will never have the perfect consensus on what is and isn’t a salmon dial — this, upon first sight will, of course, be called exactly that, and not “rose opaline.”
What really makes this exercise in color swapping stand out from most others is in the fact that legibility has remained bar none excellent. At a time when Rolex still designs a considerable number of almost totally illegible dial-hand combinations, as it sacrifices legibility in favor of fancy-looking colors, I am happy to see Glashütte Original taking the original functionality of a watch dial into consideration. The reflective, really-very-blue hands go against the satin-looking salmon backdrop beautifully, as do the blue, hand-applied indices.
Last, and I know this might sound uncanny, but I’ll say it anyway: there is something about the Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar Rose Opaline that makes me think of it as a “Dad’s watch.” It’s the grown-up, responsible, thoughtful, non-shouty, yet confident man’s watch. You’ll either get that vibe from it, or you won’t — but it’s one of the best vibes a sensible watch could give, as far as I’m concerned.
I’ll begin with the bad. I think Glashütte Original should either do something with the immense stiffness of its straps, or educate its customers on how to treat the strap when they get a new watch. The CITES-certified Louisiana Alligator leather strap is so incredibly stiff, it is literally painful to wear at first. When I asked the brand about this, their response was that it’s like a nice shoe, that needs breaking in.
Finding a way to break them in is exactly what I did, so here’s what I recommend doing for everyone who gets some crazy stiff new leather straps — irrespective of brand. The technique I found is that I undo the deployant clasp and just thread the longer end of the strap through the two loops of the other end, rolling the strap up as tight as it will go, so that it curls up tightly behind the caseback. It will be rolled up to about half the thickness of the skinniest of wrists, and I leave the watch like that for a day or two. On a quality strap, such as the one on the PanoMaticLunar, no part of the leather will break — not the tops, nor the sides or the lining —, but the strap will finally become more compliant in following the shape of the human wrist.
Once you figure this out and perform this simple task, GO is right, you will end up with a durable, expensive and expensive-looking alligator strap — which is a very nice thing to have on a luxury watch, and yet is far from being the industry standard. If you like a deployant clasp, you can get the Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar Rose Opaline on GO’s beautifully finished clasp — or, for $300 less, you can get it on a pin buckle. It’s not the three-hundred bucks difference that matters, but the one in wearability, so I suggest you try both to see which one you like. I personally don’t find Glashütte Original’s elongated folding clasp to be comfortable at all (prone to pinching my skin between its metal end and the inside of the strap) and would definitely go for the pin buckle instead.
Okay, enough about straps already. At 40.00mm-wide and 12.70mm-thick, the PanoMaticLunar is a modern-sized watch that nevertheless looks great with a suit or a jacket on. It won’t proactively crawl under a shirt sleeve, but if you want to be discreet about your watch-wearing (as you probably should be: it’s not 2005 anymore after all), once you tuck it under the sleeve, it will remain there securely and comfortably.
The way its contrasty, perfect legibility blends with what still is an (undeservedly) exotic color combination, the PanoMaticLunar makes a highly positive impression on its wearer, as well as on on-lookers. The moon phase display and the barely visible texts around the periphery of the dial add likable complexity, as does the high-contrast Panorama Date. The long, arching and inwards angled lugs bring masculinity into the picture, as does the multi-tiered, beautifully executed, polished bezel, along with the brushed case band that’s right below it.
No stupid extra pushers — just one flush with the case at 2 o’clock to adjust the phase of the moon — or other nonsense like that; the PanoMatic is small details adding up to a manly, yet refined watch. PC world and equality and me loving to see women wear men’s watches all noted, the PanoMaticLunar remains among those few luxury watches that are distinctly manly watches.
As far as wearability is concerned, once we skip analyses and scrutiny, the point is how wearing this watch makes you feel: and to that end, this is what I experienced. The PanoMaticLunar Rose Opaline lends to, as well as communicates the elegance and confidence of its wearer in a tastefully bespoke way. By not being one of your go-to “smart casual” / dress watches, it makes a more powerful statement than the usual suspects, without sacrificing anything as far as legibility, refinement and other core values are concerned.
Glashütte Original rightfully prides itself for its Manufactory Calibres — as they like to call them. Designed, machined, decorated, assembled and regulated in-house, these calibers round Glashütte Original’s elegant designs into a complete package. The PanoMaticLunar relies on the Glashütte Original Manufactory Calibre 90-02, a genuinely bespoke movement with:
…and all that watchmaking goodness for under $10k.
The PanoMaticLunar is among those few sub-$10,000 watches that I would genuinely want to be able to wear with the caseback facing up, there is so much horological eye-candy crammed into it. The movement is 32.6mm-wide, so it fills up the 40mm case beautifully. Power reserve is 42 hours, which ideally should be longer so that it would last a full weekend, but I’m not sure how that could be implemented with this movement construction.
Speaking of decoration, although it’s part of the dial, I’ll rank it under the movement this time: the phase of the moon disc is a brilliant piece of watchmaking unto itself. Having seen how these are made in Glashütte Original’s very own dial manufacture in Pforzheim, Germany, the closer you look at the polished and domed (!) moon, the more unbelievable this small piece becomes. In fact, the moon disc is a wheel with teeth around its periphery, with the tiniest stars in gold over a rich blue background. And yes, as you gently move the watch around, the stars reflect and so they appear to be sparkling and glistening. I’ll go out on a limb and say that there are more steps and challenges to making this one component than there are to making an entire Panerai dial.
The only strange aspect of the PanoMaticLunar in rose opaline is that it is limited to just 50 pieces. Glashütte Original knows its customer base much better than you or I do, and it surely has extensive data on how they respond to colorful, more experimental designs. But even with that prospect in mind, I believe that 50 is a very strong underestimation of the potential of this reference.
I also truly believe that major brands inside or out of luxury groups should fully and immediately abandon the concept of limited edition watches. Not just Glashütte Original or Omega or the Swatch Group, but all of the LVMH and Richemont brands, and all the rest of them, too.
Over my seven or so years in this industry, and close to a decade as a helplessly dedicated watch-lover, I have never ever (as in never once ever) heard anyone boast about, or even just get remotely excited by, having a Limited Edition. In my experience, nobody cares. Literally and absolutely nobody cares, and especially nobody cares to make a purchase decision on this merit anymore. “But it’s for those who want a good investment!” I hear you say. I would have had a bit of leeway to this approach even just a few years ago. But at a time when run-of-the-mill stainless steel Rolex Daytonas — of which there are so many that one could reconstruct the Great Wall of China of them — double in value within 3-5 years, then who needs limited editions anymore? Okay, fine, I’ll say that maybe 1% of limited edition watches in the $8k-$20k segment have their limited edition status make an iota difference in their resale value, and maybe the PanoMaticLunar is one of them… But does that make a positive difference for the manufacturer by translating into distinctly faster/easier sales? I don’t think it does.
I cannot speak for Glashütte Original on why it decided to make just 50 iterations — from previous industry-wide experiences, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were manufacturing difficulties that keep them from reliably producing more of the dial. What I can say however is that I really do hope Glashütte Original keeps on making impressive watches like this but does so without limiting their availability.
Once you add the beautiful movement, the stunning dial and the hardly ever matched quality of execution together, and combine all that with a sub-$10,000 price, you see how the PanoMaticLunar easily lands itself among the top offerings of its price segment. And that’s true irrespective the color of the dial.
As such, the
salmon rose opaline dial may not be everyone’s cuppa, but for them, there are anthracite gray, blue, and even crisp silver dial options available on the PanoMaticLunar in steel — and there even is a steel bracelet option to boot.
Price for one of the 50 limited edition Glashütte Original PanoMaticLunar Rose Opaline watches is $9,600 with a pin buckle, and $9,900 with a deployant clasp, and you can browse the collection on Glashütte Original’s website.
>Brand: Glashütte Original
>Model: PanoMaticLunar Rose Opaline reference 1-90-02-12-32-30 on deployant clasp
>Price: $9,900 with deployant clasp
>Size: 40mm-wide & 12.70mm-thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: On a daily basis, outside of sports activities.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: The one with a solid sense for quality, elegance and restrained, but defined style.
>Best characteristic of watch: Amazing movement and superb legibility meet competitive price and rare looks.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Uncomfortable strap and deployant clasp.