Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar: Subtle Mashups
Everyone loves a good mashup.
When most people hear the word mashup, they may think of the musical tactic of mixing old and new songs as found on YouTube, on “Glee,” and in DJ music all around the world. A mashup, however, does not simply refer to music, but rather the act of mixing or fusing disparate elements and emphasizing contrast or convergence to create something new.
In music, this might mean matching a beat from an EDM song with some Bach or “Sweet Home Alabama” with the theme song from the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”
In visual art, it can mean mixing styles from different periods or painting a modern subject (like Batman) in a much older style (like that of Vincent van Gogh). Some artists use Photoshop to show direct contrast or familiarity between sources and moments in time.
The Tumblr page Confórmi run by Italian architect Davide Trabucco uses two images spliced together diagonally, contrasting art, architecture, photography, and design from history. It started as a way for Trabucco to manage his inspiration and visual references, but in a unique way that became an art form of its own. The images starkly yet beautifully contrast things so separate in time, space, style, and intent that they somehow still manage to relate to each other when viewed in just the right way.
Great examples include the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover and “Adoration of the Magi” by Gentile da Fabriano, circa 1423, or a still from the animated Disney movie Sleeping Beauty and the painting Death of the Virgin by Giotto, circa 1310.
Mashups can come in all forms, some more subtle than others and in places you least expect. One place not immune to this is watch design. Of course brands like to do vintage styles with modern materials, but designers will also select key elements from the past to insert into decidedly modern styles.
One brand that does this very well (and may come as a surprise) is Glashütte Original. This is largely visible in the relatively new Senator Excellence line (a subgroup of the Senator collection), the latest example of which is the Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar.
The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar follows the Excellence, Panorama Date, and Panorama Date Moonphase, and houses an entirely new movement with some great features (more on that later) and a visual overhaul that, while changing less than you might think, created a great design mashup and brought the Senator Excellence to the head of the class for Glashütte Original.
The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar is powered by the new movement developed for the line (Caliber 36) with the previous perpetual calendar’s QP module, something that was already a juxtaposition when it made its debut around 20 years ago. The hard, quadrant style layout of the calendar indications was a departure from the more traditional layouts without turning into something considered avant-garde. But now, the new design direction seen in the Senator Excellence takes it a bit further.
Where it once was typical Roman numerals for the hours, now the majority of the hour markers are simple batons, reducing the business of the dial and transforming it into something more modern. Only the “12” and the “6” are left as numerals, though they still have classical serifs and have not been butchered into blocky modern interpretations that always fail to impress.
Compared to the time-only Senator Excellence, the batons are cut short, again reducing the “business” that tends to occur with perpetual calendars. The logo having moved to 3 o’clock from 12 o’clock is due to another design change.
On the previous perpetual calendar, the logo was at 12 o’clock and just below it was a leap year indicator in the form of a simple window with a red dot. When not a leap year, the window would match the white of the dial, but the wearer still wouldn’t know which year within the four-year cycle was currently taking place.
On the Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar, this has morphed into a more traditional four-quadrant subdial with a tiny blued steel hand, allowing much easier setting of the calendar since the owner no longer has to cycle through the entire calendar to ensure it is set properly. The small round dial adds more visual weight to the face, but the new location for the logo does disrupt the previous symmetry.
The dial also sees the addition of tiny red or black (depending on case material) sans serif Arabic numerals that match the batons and add a more modern twist with the Roman numerals. The quadrant layout of the perpetual calendar indications contrasted to the Roman numerals and blued-steel spade hands adds to this as well.
Case and dial proportions seem more congruent thanks to a larger dial (and movement), which means more space for the indications. The bezel has been reduced while keeping the overall diameter the same, making the watch wear better overall.
Most of this is thanks to new Caliber 36, which prompted the redesign of the Senator Excellence line.
Technical merits of the Caliber 36 perpetual calendar movement
The mechanics of the perpetual calendar module remain the same, but the base movement was brand new in 2016 and definitely qualified the addition of Excellence in the name.
Caliber 36 is larger than Caliber 39, the movement it replaces, by 6 mm, making it 32.2 mm in diameter. With that space, Glashütte Original was able to fit a much larger mainspring that allows for 100 hours of power reserve (just over four days). This extended power reserve serves to also increase the consistency of the balance thanks to a much smoother torque curve over a longer period.
New Caliber 36 also features a free-sprung, adjustable mass balance with silicon hairspring, which greatly improves precision and consistency. The ubiquitous swan neck regulator found on Glashütte Original movements is still there, though now used for adjusting the isochronism and concentricity of the hairspring, helping to keep the hairspring centered and evenly expanding during oscillations.
The mainspring is wound by a bi-directional rotor whose reverser gears are visible atop the three-quarter plate. More interestingly, the movement is held in the case not with typical screws, but with a twist (literally) thanks to a camera-lens style mounting system. A 50-degree turn is all that is needed to lock the movement securely into the case, making servicing faster and easier.
But none of that would matter if the movement wasn’t accurate, and that is why Glashütte Original has instituted a rigorous internal testing regimen that sees the movements tested in six positions over twelve days and to different temperatures, levels of power reserve, and requiring numbers that meet or exceed C.O.S.C. standards. The resulting watches are guaranteed accurate and precise, making for a perpetual calendar that is not only great looking, but durable and precise.
The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar is a watch to be worn.
The style has become something that doesn’t feel dated to a specific decade or that will easily look old; instead, the mix of classical and modern elements has created a design that should have much more lasting power than a lot of designs out there. And when you combine great looks and wearability with precision and durability, the result is a surprisingly awesome timepiece.
I would say this might be one of the top perpetual calendars for everyday wearability, which for me is part of the reason to get a QP in the first place. The steel version with steel bracelet is the most “every day” of the bunch and makes me think I really need to start saving to grab one of these as one of my few lifelong watches.
I urge you to take a gander at this great piece and at the entire Senator Excellence collection powered by new Caliber 36; it is a fantastic value.
While you look, I’ll break this one down!
- Wowza Factor * 7.2 The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar is a great-looking watch. It might not blow anyone out of the water like some of the crazier pieces, but as perpetual calendars go it is one handsome little guy!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 79.5 » 779.628m/s2 This watch will have you staying up till all hours lusting after the classic and modern mashup!
- M.G.R. * 65.5 Given the effort put forth into making the movement as reliable as it can be with the addition of a perpetual calendar module on top, Caliber 36 is an especially solid movement.
- Added-Functionitis * Severe Perpetual calendars give an immediate severe diagnosis that calls for a double dose of prescription-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the accurate long-term swelling!
- Ouch Outline * 10.4 Wood slivers underneath your fingernails! Just thinking about this makes me cringe, but I would have to admit I might risk it if it meant getting the Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Four years (or about an hour)! When you have a perpetual calendar, if you don’t fall in love earlier, you are sure to on February 29th! But that does give you plenty of time to plan the reception.
- Awesome Total * 756 Multiply the diameter of the case (42) with the caliber number (36) and then divide by the number of metals the case is offered in (2) for a certifiably awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.glashuette-original.com/collection/senator-collection.
Quick Facts Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar
Case: 42 x 12.8 mm, 18-karat red gold or stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber 36-02; 100 hours power reserve (just over four days), free-sprung, adjustable mass balance with silicon hairspring
Functions: hours, minutes, sweep seconds; perpetual calendar with day, date, month, leap year, moon phase
Price: $23,800 in steel on bracelet; $22,300 in steel on leather strap, $37,100 in gold with clasp, $35,100 in gold with buckle
Also published on Medium.