When I first noticed the Sport Evolution watch collection a few years ago I felt as though it was Glashutte Original’s take on making a fancier Rolex Submariner. While the Sport Evolution is a bit larger (by 2mm) the watches have a lot in common. Both are dive watches (though people rarely dive in either of them), though with different depth ratings (200 meters for the Sport Evolution, and 300 meters for the Submariner), have rotating bezels, nice steel bracelets, easy to read dials, and in-house made movements. Rolex of course is the leading champ among the two in terms of popularity and sales, but the Sport Evolution is a fine timepiece with a hell of an appeal to it. First, it is beautiful, very easy to live with, has more features than a Submariner, and is much more a timepiece for the watch enthusiast.

While Rolex makes its own movements, the caliber in the Submariner wouldn’t really excite you to look at. While very durable and hardy, you won’t find much decoration on it, or that zest that makes in-house movements so popular. Inside the Glashutte Original however, is a beautifully made and hand-decorated automatic that is visible through the well designed caseback window. It really adds a “wow factor” to the watch just to see this level of decoration on a dive style watch. Being the entry level Sport Evolution watch, the Panorama Date is fitted with a big date indicator. This complication is more… complex and desirable than Rolex’s mere single disc based date indicator. The Sport Evolution further has an easy to operate micro-adjust feature for its bracelet. Newer Rolex Submariner watches are fitted with their Glide-Lock mechanism which serves the same purpose, but Rolex waiting until 2010 to place that feature in their steel Submariner models – so Glashutte Original beat them to it.

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The Sport Evolution and Submariner aren’t exactly competitors in the market (for the most part), but to me they are. A Glashutte watch is going to cost a little but more (from an MSRP standpoint) – but not that much more. And from a retail perspective you can probably get the Sport Evolution cheaper (and you can’t really get Rolex discounts). While the Rolex is going to be a more durable watch in the long-term (most because of its legendary ability to age. along with its super hard movement), it isn’t going to offer the same passionate level of ownership the sport Evolution can offer. The Rolex Submariner is a nice watch on all accords, but very common, hides no special secrets, and is very straight forward. The Sport Evolution is a connoisseurs’ sport watch. Complete with a great design, movement, and appreciated horological pedigree from the popular German luxury brand. For me, the watch is like the Mercedes Benz of luxury dive watches. Totally Teutonic in character with a bold look and unforgiving style. Refined enough to be useful on a daily level, and deep-seeded with emotion that helps overcome occasional quirks in the design. In addition to this basic Panorama Date model, the Sport Evolution comes in a variety of models including, a chronograph, GMT, perpetual calendar, tourbillon, and a “sport impact” models that feature a suspended movement meant to withstand shock.

So let’s get into the piece itself. I was lucky to personally acquire one of these, and pretty much adore the watch. In steel, the watch is 42mm wide, but wears big (meaning it feels a bit larger), and has one of the easiest to read dials I know of. This is due to almost perfect contrast between the hands and dial, along with large, easy to see hour indicators and hands. Some people might take issues with the blocky hands. At first I was concerned about them, given the lack of a precise tip on the minute hand, but reading it is very easy, and you can look closely to see where the middle of the minute hand is pointing. Discrete minute and seconds indicators around the periphery of the dial help with this (and also give the watch a more instrument-like look). The dial is beautiful, the black dial has a slight gloss to it and the dial has a very levels of elevation. Applied hour markers have polished steel around the edges and lume on the larger 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock indicators. They are large, and very easy to see. The ring where the hour indicators are applied slopes down a bit and has a slight concentric circle texturing to it. It is sloped to allow for the watch hands to not have to be raised to high on the dial. The chapter ring around the dial ‘steps’ up a bit creating an attractive slope that isn’t a simple diagonal line.

Red mixes very nicely with black and steel sport watches. You can see hints of red all over the dial without the color being overpowering. The numeric minute indicators are in red as well as the tip of the seconds hand. A tasteful Glashutte Original “double G” logo serves as the counterweight on the seconds hand and adds to the positive feeling of brand value in the watch. Glashutte Original calls their big date complication “Panorama Date.” It just another name they like to use. The big date indicator on the dial is nicely placed and very easy to read. Having the additional complication on the dial immediately makes this something more than “just another nice sport watch.” The polish on the dial glistens in the light. I love my luxury watches to shine a bit – you need a little bling in your life sometimes. Despite the glimmer, the watch remains easy to read – very hard combination of traits to find in a timepiece.

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The 42mm wide case is very well polished, with contrasting mirror polished and brushed surfaces. Note the quality looking beveled edgings on places like the lugs. There is a large screwed-on crown guard which gives the watch a more durable feel. I like how the caseback of the watch is designed and secured via screws. Screws always look good on a watch, and Glashutte Original doesn’t over do it here. The wrapped lugs make the watch fit very comfortably on the wrist. Even worn loose, it has no chance of slipping around your wrist accidentally. Like all dive watches, the case has a rotating diver’s bezel. There are two versions for the Sport Evolution depending on the dial color. The silvered dial has an all steel engraved bezel, while the black dialed version has a more traditional printed aluminum insert style bezel. What you like really depends on your taste. With fancy bezels including ceramic ones becoming popular these days, aluminum insert bezels are becoming less popular (as they have a tendency to scratch over time). While the engraved bezel arguably looks higher in quality, you can’t get it with the black dial version of the watch that I like better. Plus, the black bezel is easier to read. The watch bezel is easy to turn with 60 sure clicks, but isn’t as secure as some discerning watch lover might expect. Not a big deal though. An interesting design note has the top of the bezel near the lume top smooth without and notches for grip when turning the bezel.

Operating the Glashutte Original in-house made Caliber GO 39-42 is very nice. It winds as smoothly as an ETA 289X series movement (very smooth), and has a hack seconds function. The big date indicator features a true jumping mechanism ensuring that it will promptly switch over to the next date when the watch reaches midnight. Turn the watch over and you’ll be able to see the movement. I am not going to go into every feature the caliber has. You can study Glashutte Original’s website for more of that. The hand-assembled and decorated movement is just a pleasure to look at. I really like showing it off to people who are often new to fine watches. It really makes you feel as though you are holding something special when you know people slaved under microscopes to polish the stuff inside of it. The automatic rotor is engraved and skeletonized (it bears the double G brand logo), and has a segment of 21k gold in it to assist with weight. The movement is proudly made entirely in Glashutte Germany.

The bracelet on the Sport Evolution is a signature that this is a luxury watch. This Glashutte Original is not a light watch, but it is solid. A lot of the metal is in the bracelet, which features a cool gapless design. This means that you can’t see your skin between the links. On the outside, you have an interesting design the hides a very complex construction. The Sport Evolution has an interesting choice of where to put polish. While the Submariner for example has always been known to have an all brushed bracelet, it’s brother watch the GMT Master II has a bracelet with brushed links on the outside and a polished link on the inside. The Sport Evolution does the opposite of This. Thinner links on the outside have a mirror polish, while the larger inside link is brushed. It is a very fashionable choice, and purely cosmetic at this point. Look at the side of the bracelet and you’ll see lots of screws that allude to the complex construction of the bracelet – which is quite comfortable on the wrist.

The bracelet deployment clasp hides an interesting micro-adjust function, that can also operated as a diver’s extension. It is actually operated via a button which you might not notice. The button is the double G logo on the bottom of the clasp. The metal is fitted so closely together (good) that you could easily miss it as being something you can press down. Pushing it allows the bracelet to open and close a bit to give you a good fit on the wrist. I love these type of adjusters because they allow you to easily and quickly adjust a watch while on your wrist in order to loosen or tighten the bracelet. The deployment is a fold-over style clasp that is push button operated. Not as secure as the double locking system on a Rolex Submariner – though it feels tight enough. One little issue is that even when the deployment clasp is fully closed, its design makes it look as though it is not all the way closed as it is not entirely flush with the bracelet. This is actually necessary to allow this section of the bracelet to have flexibility, but it could have been designed a bit better in my opinion for a watch at this price.

My overall feeling about the Glashutte Original Sport Evolution watch is very positive. A beautiful watch, it is also a great timepiece. What do I mean? In a nutshell, it looks and works well. Coming from a great brand, it has a solid timeless design, and a personality that can compliment just about anyone. For me, this is an underdog winner in the luxury diver watch department – and an item easily worth saving up for. Retail price is $8,900, but can be found for less via most retailers.

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