Glashütte Original is a firm that’s truly a child of the modern watchmaking era; born out of the ashes of the watch companies collectivized during the postwar era in East Germany, known as Glashütter Uhrenbetrieb GMBH, it re-established (along with A Lange & Söhne) high end watchmaking in the small town of Glashütte, the heart of German precision watchmaking in Saxony. Now a member of the Swatch Group’s portfolio of luxury watchmaking houses, which includes Montres Breguet and Jacquet Droz as well, Glashütte Original specializes in the creation of precision timekeepers representing its chronometer manufacturing heritage, as well as flying tourbillons drawing on the heritage of German master watchmaker Alfred Helwig, who in the 1920s developed this complication.
At this year’s BaselWorld Glashütte Original showed perhaps its most astonishing complication to date, and one of the most technically remarkable watches it has ever shown in any year. Journalists and visitors fortunate enough to see the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon were ushered into a special display room at Glashütte Original’s exhibition space in Basel for the unveiling of the most complicated watch ever made by Glashütte Original.
The Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon combines a perpetual calendar with a world time complication, as well as a flying tourbillon. The flying tourbillon (regular Haute Time readers will recall that the tourbillon, invented by A. L. Breguet in 1801, was originally developed to address the problems with accuracy caused by the effects of gravity on a watch in different positions.) is unlike a conventional tourbillon in that it has no upper bridge holding the upper pivot of the tourbillon carriage in place –this allows a more unobstructed view of the rotating tourbillon mechanism.
The perpetual calendar complication is an especially useful complication; the perpetual calendar automatically corrects the date for the correct length of each month, including the addition of February 29th in a Leap Year. The wearer can thus be sure that the watch always shows the correct date. This would be remarkable in and of itself, but in the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon, a world time watch, the perpetual calendar is also coordinated with the world time display –if the owner changes the local time display ahead or behind by a day, all calendar indications –date, day of the week, and even the month if necessary –will all change automatically as well.
Perhaps the most amazing of the three complications in the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon is the world time complication. While most world time watches make do with showing the time in 24 time zones (each with an offset from Greenwich Mean Time in a whole number of hours) the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon shows the time in a total of 37 different time zones –and includes the ability to adjust for winter or summer time in those countries which observe it as well. The reference cities for each time zone are shown with a three letter IATA airport code for the reference city in one of two small windows at 8:00 on the dial. The ability of the watch to account for time zones with half hour or even quarter hour offsets from GMT is handles through a special system which allows not only the hour hand, but also the minute hand to jump in either half hour, fifteen minute, or forty five minute increments as the user changes reference cities.
Since time zones are not base on natural phenomena, but established by national statute, Glashütte Original will update the time zones disk and mechanism as necessary –and will also place the owner’s home city’s IATA code on the world time disk, if the owner desirres.
All this amazing and useful complexity is powered by the Glashütte Original calibre 89-01, with a 72 hour power reserve; the watch has been announced as a limited edition of 25 pieces world wide. Pricing not yet available; contact Glashütte Original for availability.