The Mühle-Glashütte Special Edition S.A.R. Rescue-Timer “150 Jahre DGzRS” is an easy watch to like. That’s not to say its minimalist styling will charm everyone, but the fact that all the proceeds go to charity tugs at my heartstrings. Since 1865, the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS) have been keeping the seafarers and water sportsmen and women of the North and Baltic seas safe from harm. To celebrate the 150-year anniversary of the charity’s foundation, Mühle-Glashütte have released this special edition variant of the S.A.R. Rescue-Timer, which has been used by the on-board crew for the last 13 years.
In my experience, Mühle-Glashütte is a polarising brand. There is something unabashedly utilitarian about many of their wares that does not appeal to everyone. When I first saw photographs of the Mühle-Glashütte range, I was unimpressed by the finish and what I took to be generic styling. The blasted surface finishing that is often employed, humbles the overall mien of these quintessentially German watches, but does not do their tactile appeal justice on-screen. It wasn’t until I was able to handle one of their pieces (an experience I recommend) that I truly appreciated the build quality and the reassuring robustness of a case that has very little photogenic potential.
The Mühle-Glashütte Special Edition S.A.R. Rescue-Timer “150 Jahre DGzRS” is a brilliant illustration of the tool-like nature of the brand. There is a wonderfully coherent relationship between the appearance of the watch and its inspiration. Its design places the emphasis on function, with an uncluttered, highly luminous dial, and the rubberised bezel not only matches with the rubber bracelet, but also evokes thoughts of waterproof materials that play a big part in the lives and operations of the DGzRS.
This watch would look at home on board a rescue vessel as well as the wrist of the charity’s CEO. The unfussy black dial with pad-printed charity logo is more likely to grow on you than not. Busier, more polarising dials frequently wear out their welcome over time; it is in classic restraint that longevity can more often be found. And this dial does have classicism at its core. It is clearly a watch born of its sea-dwelling forefathers. We can see this in the material and finishing choices of the 42mm case, the 4mm sapphire crystal guaranteeing 1000m water resistance, and the emphasis on dial legibility with the application of Super LumiNova. But some of the classic dive watch features are missing. There is no rotating bezel or helium valve, for example. The former was deemed a superfluous edge on which a sailor could catch their watch during an important operation. The same would be true of a screw-down helium valve, although a low-profile release could have been fitted. The water resistance of 1000m is more than sufficient for the tasks at hand and unlikely to be tested to its limit meaning a helium valve is probably not necessary.
And the watch does not fail to nod towards the great deeds achieved by the men and women who perform these tasks on a day-to-day basis. The date is displayed through a small, round window at 4 o’clock, but at the bottom of the dial, running between 7 and 5 o’clock, is a long window that shows different information for every day of the week. No, this is not a day window – this is an information window. A palmarès of sorts. As the week rolls by, the scrolling “info-disc” reminds us of the achievements of the DGzRS: “founded in 1865,” “150 years in action,” “81,684 people rescued,” “2,183 operations in 2014,” “0421536870” (which is the emergency number of the DGzRS), “seenotretter.de” (which is the homepage of the charity), and “Klar P3!” (the command given to inform the sea rescuers that their cruiser is ready for action.
It seems a shame that this watch is not issued to the long-serving members of the DGzRS, as it is has been faithfully constructed around their missions. It is wearable, versatile, and smacks of their institution. The emblem at 6 o’clock is known as the Hanseatic cross and could have little more relevance to anyone else! At least if these watches are bought by the crew themselves, their investment will go straight back into funding the service they provide, but it would be nicer to imagine some rich benefactor buying each and every one of the 150 pieces that will be made, and redistributing them to the brave men and women by whom the watch is inspired.
The movement in this piece is an SW 240-1, one of Selita’s more straightforward day/date models with the obvious date wheel modification. The movement itself has been finished according to Mühle-Glashütte’s in-house standards and aesthetic preferences, and has been fitted with a woodpecker-neck regulator as is custom for the brand. The calibre SW 240-1 has a power reserve of 38 hours and an operating speed of 28,800vph. It’s a solid movement and is a little larger than a lot of tractor movements, measuring 13.5 ligne (1 ligne = 2.2558mm). Unfortunately, it’s hidden away behind a solid, screw-down case back that again features the Hanseatic cross and a bit of technical information to entertain the eye. Obviously for a watch designed to operate in and around water, a solid case back makes sense, but for some, this will be a bit of a shame. As common as the SW 240-1 and movements that are structurally very similar are, the finishing of the Mühle-Glashütte variants, especially with the addition of the woodpecker neck regulator and custom rotor, make them much more attractive and certainly worth a look. Still, I love a nicely designed case back and this one strikes a good balance between pictorial novelty and professionalism.
Getting the price-point right for a watch of this nature is essential. Brands can’t risk scaring off customers by charging too much, but they can’t drop the price too far below their normal range for fear of devaluing their product. What that means is you end up with a watch that is, for all intents and purposes, a very collectible, limited piece with an unusual appearance, for an eminently reasonable price of €1,865, making the Mühle-Glashütte Special Edition S.A.R. Rescue-Timer “150 Jahre DGzRS” a great addition to a collection. Only 150 will be made, and the proceeds of each will go to a very worthy cause. Look at it this way: for each of the 81,684 souls this service has saved, this watch would cost you 2.28 Euro cents. Let’s face it, in comparison to what the DGzRS is worth to those in nautical distress, the price is nothing but a drop in the ocean. muehle-glashuette.de