How Glashütte Original Makes Its Gorgeous Retro DialsWritten by Alvin Wong
Mind blown, obviously.
FIRST, ABOUT THOSE RETRO DIALS
The retro-style dials in question stem from a recent addition to Glashütte Original’s line-up known as the Sixties collection. As the name implies, the look is modelled after watches manufactured by the brand in the 1960s, specifically a line known as the ‘Spezimatic’. Models featuring coloured retro-style dials are part of an annual edition series, in which a different colour will be premiered every year. For this story, we are referencing the green dials from the Sixties and Sixties Panorama Date from 2018.
KEEPING IT IN-HOUSE
The process starts at Glashütte Original’s own dial manufactory in Pforzheim, a city almost 180km away from its manufacturing headquarters. The dial manufactory has roots as the Th. Müller company, a dial-making factory that was acquired by the Swatch Group in 2006, and subsequently integrated with Glashütte Original in 2012.
Cutting a German silver dial blank
A HEAVY START
The striking textured pattern you seen on the dial of the Sixties and Sixties Panorama Date annual editions is created by embossing the surface of a silver dial blank. This is done by using a 60-tonne press – the same method that was used more than 50 years ago.
Embossing the dial pattern using a 60-tonne press
CUTING TO SIZE
Another distinctive characteristic of the dials are their domed edges. To achieve this profile, the silver dial blanks are first cut to size, with holes punched to make room for the hands, and following that, passed through a second press.
Curving a dial blank
After achieving the right size and profile, the dial blanks are imbued with their striking hues. Several coats of green lacquer are applied to get the perfect foliage tone. Next, black paint is hand-sprayed on the perimeter of the dial for a gradient effect, known as a ‘dégradé’ finish. Because every dial is hand-sprayed, the result for each dial is entirely distinctive and unique. Finally, the lacquered dials are baked in a kiln to set the colours.
Cutting the hands and indexes
The hour markers, indexes and brand logo take the spotlight in the final stages. A precision diamond-cutting tool slices through the layers of lacquer etch the hour indexes, revealing the patterns in dial’s original German silver.
Printing the numbers in white (left), hand-application of Super-LumiNova
The numbers ‘3’, ‘6’, ‘9’ and ‘12’, the Glashütte Original logo, the words ‘Glashütte i/Sa’ (which stands for Glashütte in Saxony) and words ‘Made in Germany’ are pad printed in white. Last by not least, Super-LumiNova is hand-applied on the hour indexes to complete this 25-step dial-making process.
Alvin promises not to be a douche when talking about watches. He may have scoured the Basel and Geneva watch fairs for the past 15 years, and played an instrumental role to the growth of Singapore's pioneering horological and men's lifestyle publications, but the intrepid scribe seeks to learn something new with each story he writes.