Like many other seasoned watch lovers, my affection for German watch maker Glashütte Original runs deep. It’s not just the classic yet spirited designs that tend to define the brand which are appealing, but it is also the enduring dedication to functionality and mechanical excellence that the region is known for. Yes, like many people who know watches well, I’m a big fan of what Glashütte in Saxony lends to the world of contemporary watches. So let’s look at one of the brand’s more avant-garde watches, yet one that is totally wearable on a daily basis, the Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date reference 1-37-02-03-02-70 with the blue dial on matching steel bracelet.
I recall first putting a Glashütte Original Seventies watch on my wrist back when the brand released the collection in 2011. I had seen the watch in pictures prior to trying it out and was pleasantly surprised how much more I liked it when wearing it than the images would have suggested. Like many timepieces, this is one of those pieces that just happens to come alive when on the wrist as opposed to being viewed in the vacuum of marketing images. I think that is because the cushioned square case with its finely made tapering bracelet is particularly flattering to the organic curves of one’s hand and arm – which allows the design to sell itself through aesthetics and wearability. If you’re curious about another take, we previously reviewed the non-chronograph version of the Seventies Panorama Date watch here. In 2014, Glashütte Original followed up by expanding the Seventies collection with the Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date that I review here today.
Speaking of square-cased watches, the Seventies case is 40mm wide by 40mm wide, and in the Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date version it is 13.5mm thick (water-resistant to 100m). That makes it a true square, and the case itself feels a lot more like a retro television screen, which is intentional. Square or non-round watches are difficult to get right. Getting the proportions and overall design of a non-round watch correct such that it is both legible and looks good on the wrist is quite hard to do. Though when it is done correctly it has the makings of a classic.
As a mental exercise, think of all the watches you can that are not round but are also timeless. There are a few of them, and they stand out amazingly well. Then, think of all the watches which have non-round cases which just didn’t work despite best efforts. If you know your watches, you’ll realize that the unsuccessful ones clearly outnumber the successful ones. So when it comes to non-round watches, there is great risk, but also great reward if the brand gets its right. In my opinion, the Glashütte Original Seventies, while not totally mainstream in its appeal, has the makings of a classic.
In a sense, it is already a contemporary classic. Even though the modern version came out just a few years ago, Glashütte Original didn’t just name it “Seventies” because it loosely reminded them of the era. Rather, this collection, which includes models on various straps and three different dial colors, is directly based on watches that the brand released in the 1970s. From the 1960s to the 1970s, Glashütte Original came out with a large selection of really interesting and very “out-there” stuff. That meant a lot of experimentation with colors and case shapes. Recall that this was during a time when the brand was actually state-controlled, as Saxony was in what was then East Germany, run as a communist state. Nevertheless, the state was quite liberal with its designs, and it was a golden age of design that the Glashütte Original brand of today regularly draws inspiration from. Another square-cased model the brand produces which is inspired by the 1960s is the Glashütte Original Sixties Square (hands-on here).
The Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date isn’t a cheap watch, but people get it for the case design, detailing, and of course, the in-house-made movement. As I said before, it does take a relatively seasoned watch lover to really appreciate all the details and unique style here. It’s all about the case, movement, dial, and bracelet – all of which are produced in Germany.
As all watches are sold or passed over because of their dial, let’s discuss the one on this Seventies Chronograph for a moment. This version is in a sunburst metallic blue, which is produced by Glashütte Original by their own dial-maker which is located elsewhere in the country, in Pforzheim, Germany. The blue is not just chemically applied, but done using a carefully designed technique using layers of varnish. Blue is a popular choice for watch dials today, and that’s a good thing since it offers a more inviting color than gray, and is a bit more friendly than, say, black, white, or silver. With that said, the challenge in making a good blue dial is in getting both the exact right shade and finishing. Too light or dark and it can easily ruin the appeal; too matte and it can look cheap; too glossy and it can affect legibility. So when you see a blue-colored dial that is done right, it’s easy to appreciate it.
A lot of the Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date dial is about referencing the past. You see that in the applied arrowhead-style hour markers, with small lume points applied manually around the periphery of the dial. The hands are perfectly sized in length, and painted with Super-LumiNova in the middle. They offer excellent contrast against the blue dial – which makes for a very welcome sense of readability in most lighting conditions. Both the hands and hour markers are produced from 18ct white gold – which allows for a nice polish and protects against tarnishing in the future.
Even though the Glashütte Original Seventies is more a sporty/casual watch, the hands and hour markers are a bit more formal in their design, albeit still easy to read. This was odd to me at first, but I came to appreciate it. The effect is a soothing, more traditional look that still has a bit of “polished pizazz” to it, which melds nicely with the otherwise sporty case. It makes for a sexy composition, which is a rare thing to say for a timepiece with a cushion-style square case. If there is one big compliment that I’d like to give the Glashütte Original Seventies case is that it manages to look sexy while also not looking typical.
The steel case and bracelet have excellent finishing, something the brand – and, for that matter, many high-quality German watches – is known for. The polished bezel is matched by the polished chronograph pushers and crown guard. The middle of the case is finely brushed, which reduces visual mass and adds to the sport appeal. Note the polished beveling on the case edges as well, which is a lovely touch. The bracelet is designed to integrate with the case, and it is rather complicated despite the simple three-link design. Like popular favorites like the Rolex GMT-Master II, the bracelet tapers to offer a more visually balanced (and comfortable) fit on the wrist, while the center link is polished being flanked by outer brushed links.
You’ll note that the bracelet is designed to have pretty much no gaps. It moves smoothly over the wrist thanks to tight tolerances and a construction that uses a large variety of different parts. Even sizing the bracelet is not typical, and designed to be semi-tool-less. In order to remove links, there are small pushers on the inside to release them. The bracelet’s fold-over locking deployant features a discreet micro-adjust system which has been in the Glashütte Original family in one manner or another for a good time now. In fact, Glashütte Original is among the first brands in the modern era to offer a well-engineered micro-adjust system.
What this does is allow you to have about a centimeter of distance to adjust the size of the bracelet in roughly single-millimeter increments. This is operated by the pressing the “hidden” button which is the Glashütte Original brand logo on the underside of the clasp. The reason you want this is that it allows you to expand and contract the bracelet size even while it is on your wrist to always ensure precise comfort as climate or other conditions can naturally cause your wrist size to slightly vary throughout the day.
Glashütte Original also offers the Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date (or the non-Chronograph version) on two strap options. These are a fitted alligator or rubber strap. each looks nice and is comfortable, but given that I’m a “bracelet guy,” I’ll choose the matching steel over a strap pretty much anytime.
I have to say that the Glashütte Original caliber 37 movements are among the best-kept secrets in the watch world for those who like chronographs. There is nothing else out there quite like it, and it should really get more attention for offering as much functionality as it does in a package that appears very simple and elegant. Its appeal certainly grew on me, and I think anyone who likes a cleverly designed chronograph-based movement will enjoy it.
From a functionality perspective, the caliber 37 (37-02 in this watch) offers the time with subsidiary seconds dial at 9 o’clock, big date (Glashütte Original likes to call it a “Panorama Date”) indicator, power reserve indicator, and flyback 12-hour chronograph. I’ll also note that it has a stop seconds feature (which means that when you pull the crown out, the seconds hand stops so that you can more precisely set the time).
The chronograph appears to be a mere 30-minute chronograph at first, but then you see that hours are counted not via a dial, but a moving disc visible under 12 o’clock. I was concerned about the legibility of something like this at first, but I learned to really love it – and actually find this system for reading a 12-hour chronograph superior to most others. Like I said, the chronograph is a flyback, and operated via a column wheel transmission that you can view in the movement when seeing it through the sapphire crystal through the rear of the case.
Finally, Glashütte Original completes the high-functionality package by including a discreet power reserve indicator inside the upper left quadrant of the subsidiary seconds dial. It does cut out a small bit of the dial’s indicators, but that is a very small price to pay for this added functionality that I really enjoy. From a performance perspective, the 37-02 movement operates at 4Hz (28,800bph) with a power reserve of about three days.
In addition to being very nicely decorated, the Calibre 37 automatic movement has a number of features you expect to find in high-quality Glashütte-region mechanical movements. It begins by using a traditional 3/4 plate construction, which means that the back plate of the watch covers more area, and results in a stronger, more durable design. You then have a swan neck fine-adjustment system as part of the regulation system that, when mixed with the 14ct gold screws in the balance wheel, make for a system that a watchmaker can tweak for very precise accuracy.
The movement also has an expected level of decor at a watch priced like this including polished surfaces, beveled edges, and blued steel screws. The automatic rotor is also skeletonized (and given the Glashütte Original brand logo) to make viewing the movement a bit easier, and further weighted with a strip of 21ct gold. Also really nice is the fact that when you view the movement through the rear of the case you can appreciate that it takes up most of the case – as, oftentimes, people don’t like when a movement is placed in a case that is too large for it.
It’s difficult to find areas of fault in the Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date. Sure, you might not personally like the design, but for what it is, Glashütte Original spent an intense level of refinement on pretty much all details. Nothing about this watch really says “improve me,” beyond small taste preferences or quirks that people might subjectively want changed. To me, wearing a watch like this feels very much like you are strapping on a pure expression of the what the brand seeks to evoke in their products.
The Glashütte Original logo, with its dual Gs design has one G facing forward and one G facing backward. This is an honest metaphor for what the brand is, and the idea is that half of their mind is focused on the past, and half is focused on the future. In many ways, that sums up the Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date pretty well given its several nods to the past in terms of the case and dial design, along with having a regionally traditional mechanical movement, as well as looking ahead by being a contemporary luxury watch with a strong personality and impressive movement meant to be what fine watch lovers are looking for now and into the future. Price for the reference 1-37-02-03-02-70 Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date