Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Tourbillon: Truth In Advertising
Deceptive advertising is a serious issue in most parts of the world, with both broad and specific limitations on how products can be described or marketed to the consumer. Everyone can probably think of an example where a claim seems incredible only to find out that it was too good to be true.
Whether it be foods touted as “all natural” or “chemical free” (hint: everything in the universe is made of natural chemicals), laxatives labeled as “weight-loss supplements,” or the infamous “clean-diesel” Volkswagen scandal, it seems that advertising can be a minefield of dubious, misleading, or downright false claims.
But not all false advertising is created equal.
Most advertising already falls into a grey area of questionable or possibly dubious claims that, if incorrect, simply might mean that a person purchased a box of Lucky Charms only to discover that they are, in fact, NOT “magically” delicious.
You see, magic isn’t real as far as we know so that claim is likely false. But it is also clearly hyperbole and a sort of a pun, which makes it relatively harmless.
But as Red Bull found out in 2014, claiming something so clearly tongue-in-cheek as “Red Bull gives you wings” when it does not may cost you a lot of money if someone wanted to call you out legally.
In truth, most false advertising lies in the category of stretching the truth or exaggerating a product’s functions or capabilities, which, if questioned, can easily be modified in subsequent advertising. Unless the advertising clearly leads to individual harm or monetary loss, most claims go unprotested.
Clever wording is the best way to get around the possibility of a false advertising claim, often by stating that a feature might, could, may, or possibly will do something that it likely won’t most of the time.
Even better, talking about how something was designed for a specific reason, while never outright claiming that it performs in the way it was designed to, is a sly way of alluding that something does something when it doesn’t.
Which brings me to tourbillons.
Oh, yeah, I’m gonna go there.
But does it work?
I’ll begin by saying I love tourbillons: they are mechanically interesting, have an engineering pedigree that dates to an icon of horology, and demonstrate a level of watchmaking prowess that is astonishingly still around after the quartz crisis of the 1970s.
Modern watchmaking wouldn’t be the same without them.
But it has also been widely discussed by now that the vast majority of tourbillons serve little to no purpose in a wristwatch, at least the purpose for which it was originally invented: to minimize gravity perturbing the rate of the balance in a pocket watch, which does not change its vertical position in a pocket.
And that is why brands will often talk about the tourbillon in poetic ways relating it to history, precision, and horological savoir faire without claiming that the tourbillon makes a measurable impact on the watch’s accuracy or consistency by conveniently forgetting to mention any numbers.
That is because numbers are a measurement, and if you lie about a claim that is definable and independently verifiable, it is false advertising – and illegal most everywhere.
This is why in nine out of ten examples (or, more accurately these days, 99 out of 100), a tourbillon will not be marketed in a watch as a component that increases the accuracy or consistency (with associated numbers), but instead be described as an extraordinary mechanical feat designed to increase accuracy and consistency.
These claims are remarkably similar to the average consumer yet legally are critically different. Lawyers are among the most pedantic people for a reason; lawsuits often crash against the rocks of semantics.
And that is where a majority of tourbillons reside: semantic purgatory where they have been designed to increase rate consistency and average out the influence of gravity on the balance without being shown to have had any real-world effect in an actual wristwatch.
For that reason, it is worth taking note when a watch is released that features a tourbillon and an actual discussion on the rate of the watch – or, more usefully, is officially certified as a chronometer.
That designation means something, and when a movement containing a tourbillon gets certified as a chronometer you can be sure it was engineered as a precise timekeeper instead of an expensive, more complex version of a standard watch.
With that we come to the highlight for today: the Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Tourbillon, a spectacular piece of watchmaking that follows through on the promises it displays in more ways than one.
Let’s dive into the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon and see just why it stands dramatically apart from many out there, even its sibling, the Senator Tourbillon.
Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Tourbillon
While the name alone makes it seem like Glashütte Original simply took the Senator Tourbillon and had it chronometer certified, the truth is the watch is entirely different and shares only limited parts. The construction is totally different, and mechanically it does very different things.
The “basic” Senator Tourbillon is an automatic movement with center hours and minutes plus a large date. The Senator Chronometer Tourbillon has offset hours and minutes, is manual wind, has no date but instead a power reserve, and features a stop-seconds mechanism (which stops the tourbillon), zero reset (which advances the tourbillon to zero), and minute detent for perfect setting ability to combine with the chronometer-level accuracy.
The Senator Chronometer Tourbillon seems to be built with one main goal in mind: consistent accuracy. The tourbillon is a prominent feature just like on the Senator Tourbillon, but the entire lower half of the dial is now the highlight, showcasing the functions that make the flying tourbillon settable to the second, a must-have for a chronometer.
The functions are all operated via the crown, allowing easy time adjustment that can be set to the precise time.
A zero-reset mechanism on a flying tourbillon is already a complex mechanism, but the minute detent is what takes it to the next level. When the crown is pulled out to the maximum the tourbillon cage and the minute hand advance to sync up.
The tourbillon cage, which displays the seconds, resets forward to zero as mentioned, and the minute hand advances to the next minute marker so that the minutes and seconds are at the top of the minute, making sure the seconds aren’t displaying zero when the minute hand is halfway between markers.
This is a precision timekeeping device, so to ensure that the movement’s energy doesn’t run low there is a power reserve indicator on the left that indicates how much of the 70-hour power reserve remains.
As an added bonus for mechanical aficionados, the planetary gear system that translates the mainspring barrel orientation into a readable position is skeletonized and visible on the rear of the movement, adding another layer of technical exposure not available in the Senator Tourbillon.
Senator Chronometer Tourbillon: technical details
The minute detent system is hidden behind a raised plate and dial that surprisingly has a unique feature to emphasize what is truly important about this watch. Along the upper vertical edge of the time display plate, engraved in reverse lettering, are the words “Chronometer Tourbillon,” which would be hard to even see if it weren’t for the completely polished internal sidewall of the case.
This allows the words to reflect toward the wearer, now in the right orientation, so it can remind the wearer what Glashütte Original sought to accomplish with this watch.
But that one detail pales in comparison to the extensive hand engraving on all the plates and some of the components that played a role in creating an ultimately precise and settable flying tourbillon.
Since a flying tourbillon doesn’t use a balance bridge or balance cock, and the German companies are known for specifically engraving that component, it’s clear that the entirety of the dial is an ode to this practice and a fun addition to the already-impressive movement.
It also provides some contrast to the flat-polished and chamfered bridges, levers, and springs that make up a bulk of the zero-reset mechanism. The aesthetic harkens back to models like the PanoMaticInverse and the PanoInverse, however, the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon understands that it is a big step up over those pieces.
In fact, this may be one of the best tourbillon models in modern watch history (along with those made by Greubel Forsey) since it actually tries to achieve the goals of the tourbillon in the first place: increased precision and consistency in timekeeping. While that may be claimed often, it is not usually demonstrated.
The raised offset dial and the exposed mechanics on the bottom half give the watch a distinct presence and depth that was missing from its more conservative sibling. Given that the Senator Tourbillon was a full 1.7 mm thicker than this Senator Chronometer Tourbillon (I blame the automatic winding), an increase in visual depth for this model would almost seem counterintuitive.
But things aren’t always what they seem, and the watch deftly increases the apparent depth while trimming down to a very fit 12 mm in height.
The reason we’re here
Yet no matter what the mechanics look like or how awesome the movement is engineered, it still takes a backseat to the highlight that is chronometer certification.
The Senator Chronometer Tourbillon was tested and certified by the German Calibration Service in Glashütte to DIN 8319, standards equivalent to the C.O.S.C. tests in Switzerland. This makes the watch one of a few that include a tourbillon and actually discusses the measured precision, let alone with a rate worthy of being classified as a precision chronometer.
To me this is the triumph showing that Glashütte Original actually cares about what a tourbillon represents and hope to that clients and collectors appreciate that.
A tourbillon, according to Glashütte Original, shouldn’t just be an ornament slapped into a movement or an animation created to impress your golf buddies. It’s fine if that is all you want it for, but horologically speaking it should be so much more.
Glashütte Original, through the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon, shows that it thinks tourbillons should at least demonstrate their accuracy.
It’s not technically clear that that the watch couldn’t be adjusted to chronometer standards without the tourbillon mechanism, and clearly most chronometer-rated wristwatches do not need a tourbillon to achieve C.O.S.C. chronometer precision. But for an invention that is clearly designed to make a movement more precise and consistent, it would be disingenuous with a tourbillon to not even try to reach top precision levels.
It would be like Ferrari putting a 650hp V12 into a car and tuning it so it wasn’t any faster than a Toyota Camry. A Camry is a good car and clearly doesn’t need a huge engine to perform well. But if you have the technology just sitting there, and it’s intended to make the car fast, why not do it? I know this oversimplifies pretty much everything, but intention matters. If you want to skate along on the ideas of precision, accuracy, and consistency without actually achieving it, people might call you out.
I have to give a hearty round of applause to Glashütte Original for the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon because it quietly walked up to the tourbillon party – a party that has a clear theme and “dress code” – and actually dressed the part.
I mean, if you are invited to a costume party and you show up dressed as a wizard while everyone is in regular clothes, I think it’s fair to call everyone else out on failing to dress the part. It never hurts to take the job seriously, and the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon demonstrates that Glashütte Original definitely does.
Bravo Glashütte Original, bravo.
So now that I’ve built this watch up, let’s break it down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.89 Visually this watch makes your eyes go wide, mechanically it makes your jaw drop. The wowza factor is strong with this one!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 111.1» 1,089.518m/s2 The amount of lust appeal this watch has being a flying tourbillon with zero reset and chronometer certification is enough to give you a week of sleepless nights!
- M.G.R. * 70.9! Yay! I can talk about a tourbillon that is demonstrably precise! This doesn’t happen all that often, so it deserves highlighting when the movement is this geeky for multiple reasons!
- Added-Functionitis * Mild Of course a power reserve is very useful, especially on a manually wound watch. But all the extra bits of the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon that are so amazing aren’t technically added functions so this watch amazingly only requires children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the single added function!
- Ouch Outline * 12.7 Falling down a stump-ridden hill in the dark while it’s raining! This hasn’t exactly happened to me, but I had a dream it did. And even in the dream it was a disaster. Given that even imagining it was terrible I’d say it would take something amazing like the Senator Chronometer Tourbillon to convince me to do it in real life!
- Mermaid Moment * Chronometer-certified flying tourbillon! Seriously that is really all it takes to make someone fall head over heels for this watch, but the sheer beauty helps too!
- Awesome Total * 870 Begin with the first half of the caliber number (58) and multiply it by the second half (05), then multiply the result with the frequency of the balance in Hz (3) for a beautifully certified awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.glashuette-original.com/collection/senator/senator-chronometer-tourbillon-limited-edition.
Quick Facts Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Tourbillon Limited Edition
Case: 42 x 12 mm, platinum
Movement: manual winding Caliber 58-05 with one-minute flying tourbillon and silicon balance spring, stop seconds, zero reset and minute detent, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 70-hour power reserve, chronometer certified to DIN 8319 standards by the German Calibration Service in Glashütte
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds with zero reset; power reserve
Limitation: 25 pieces