Manufacture Visit: Creating A Vintage Dial At Glashütte Original

The dial is arguably the most interesting visual on a watch. Yet so often they turn out rather plain. Not so with the by now recognizable-from-a-mile Glashütte Original green Sixties and Sixties Panorama Date dials. Once seen, one simply does not forget. It is now with much personal delight that we share these magnificent captures and insight provided by Glashütte Original. Please join us as they walk us all through the creation of those unique dials.

Any error on a watch dial, and you’re bound to find out and it’s sure to bother the owner of the watch every single time he looks at his watch. Once seen, a mistake on a dial can never be unseen. It is for this reason that many of the (haute horlogerie) brands have long outsourced this crucial element. As an example, even Patek only started doing this ‘in-house’ after it outright purchased its dial maker (Cadrans Flückiger). At Glashütte Original, they do tackle it in-house. Below, a walk through the manufacture, answering the question: How do they do it? Well, it all starts with punching out German silver blanks. 

Stamping the German Silver blanks

The elaborate textured surface, is created by use of a presse. A 60-tonne press to be exact. “The same process was in use more than 50 years ago in Pforzheim, when dials were already being produced there for the Glashütte manufactory. The embossing punch used today, with its filigreed decoration, dates from this period.”

Following this initial press, the blank is cut to size, and a hole is inserted at the centre for the hands. “A second pass under a press lends the disc, which is only 0.5 mm thick, its characteristic domed perimeter. Here, too, there are connections to history: whereas in the 1960s the domed shape served to mask the height of the movement – much thicker at the time than today’s movements – so as to follow the trend for flatter watches, today the curved edges are a characteristic element of the Sixties line’s vintage design.” The current calibre no longer requires this, as it is much thinner, but the curve is kept as it does provide a nice (vintage) vibe to the dial.

With the dial clearly taking shape, we’re not quite there yet as anyone familiar with the final product will be able to tell you quite quickly. “Several coats of vibrant green lacquer are applied to the previously galvanised dial before it receives its “dégradé”finish. This effect is achieved by spraying on black paint, with great care and in such a way that the dial perimeter takes on a much darker hue than at its centre, resulting in an individual colour gradient that renders each dial unique. The lacquered dials are then heated in a kiln to burn in the colours.” 

The attentive reader will have noticed the indices and printing suddenly appearing on the far right of the above picture. How those found their way on the dial, are certainly worth a moment of your time as well. These are not applied indices, quite the contrary. “A diamond soon cuts through these layers to form eight of the twelve hour indexes. This renders the raw material visible once again, so that the hours in the Sixties Annual Edition are counted in German silver – and in white. As was the case for the historic reference models, the numerals 3, 6, 9 and 12 are printed in white in the remaining gaps, using a pad printing process. The same holds true for the Glashütte Original logo and the logo-scripts “Glashütte i/Sa” (Glashütte in Saxony) and “Made in Germany”.

Diamon soon cuts through the lacquer
Pad printing the numerals & logo in white

Finally, and we’re almost there, it’s time to apply the much beloved lume to the dial. Surprising fact, the Super-LumiNova dots are in fact applied by hand. 

Glashütte Original proudly concludes “On the one hand, then, the dials of the green Sixties and Sixties Panorama Date are precious components made with modern methods using materials of the highest quality. At the same time, their style, details and historic references contribute decisively to the character of both annual edition watches. “

6 thoughts on “Manufacture Visit: Creating A Vintage Dial At Glashütte Original

  1. Didn’t know that about Patek, very interesting.The GO Sixties releases from 18 are the ones that drew me to the brand in fact (very recently), this didn’t disappoint

    1. Thank you Claude! I tend to not use material like this sent by the brands other than to educate myself & stay up to date. But this was something else, providing such a cool look behind the scenes & making of these beautiful dials. Glad you appreciate it!

    1. They have purchased the dial manufacture quite a while back, so technically speaking no longer outsourced 🙂

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