Borrowed Time: Glashütte Original Sixties Chronograph Annual Edition With Glacier Blue Dial

Blue dials on watches have gone from novelty to mainstream; it’s rare these days to find any popular watch model, or family, that doesn’t offer at least one option in blue — some even in an array of shades, from powdery pastel to shiny cerulean to bold navy all the way to moody indigo. There are so many blue dials these days, and so many brands that claim a specific blue as their own, that when a new blue-dialed watch comes along that really makes the collective watch community take notice, it is a special event indeed. I daresay that Glashütte Original — the German manufacture renowned for its complications prowess, its traditional designs, and more recently for its boldly colorful dial experiments — has accomplished that feat with the 2020 release from its Sixties collection, a steel-cased bicompax chronograph in a gradient “Glacier Blue” dial.

Glashütte Original’s Sixties Annual Edition for 2020 has a striking Glacier Blue dial.

That icily attractive dial is, of course, where we begin our examination of the watch. Like the forest green and blazing burnt orange dials that preceded it to the market in 2018 and 2019, respectively, the Glacier Blue dials are produced by skilled artisans at Glashutte Original’s own dial making workshop in Pforzheim, Germany. The sunray finish is applied to the dial blanks before being pressed into their final, domed shape, after which they receive a galvanic nickel coating. The dials are then sprayed with dark blue lacquer to achieve the darkest shade on their periphery, and then the entire surface is sprayed with another layer of lighter blue lacquer. A final firing in a kiln burns in the colors and their gradient degrade effect, rendering each dial unique.

The Sixties Chronograph carries on the aesthetic tradition of the Sixties models, formerly called the Senator Sixties, until G.O. wisely realized that the sub-family had gained an identity and following of its own, separate from the larger and arguably more contemporary-look Senator collection. The model takes inspiration, as its name implies, from the “Spezimatic” watches produced in the 1960s by various German watchmakers whose consolidation led to the formation of Glashütte Original in the wake of German reunification. Elements drawn from those midcentury models include the very distinctive, curvy Arabic font used for the “12” and “6” on the dial, the simple stick-shaped hands for the hour and minute, and thin stick indices at the remaining hour points. On the case, that 1960s influence is evident on the relatively smallish grooved crown and the flat-headed, pump-style chronograph pushers flanking it. 

The hour and minute hands are subtly curved to follow the contours of the domed dial.

The case is 42 mm in diameter, larger than a comparable watch from the 1960s but still somewhat restrained, especially with its very thin, curved bezel that frames the dial. The sapphire crystal is domed on its sides and flat on its top surface, giving the watch a fairly modest profile. It’s got a polished finish on nearly all of its surfaces and facets — a look that resonates nicely with the gradient dial and its shiny finish of the hands and hour markers. The rounded claw-like lugs jut out from the case rather than flow organically from it, but they caress the wrist quite comfortably.

The dial is harmoniously balanced, with the elegant Glashütte Original logo below the 12, “Glashutte/ISA” above the 6, which bisects the all-important “Made in Germany” notation at the bottom, and two recessed subdials, one at 3 o’clock for the running seconds, the other at 9 o’clock for the recording of 30 elapsed minutes when the chronograph is turned on. A close look under a loupe reveals that both the minute hand and the central chronograph seconds hand are slightly bent to follow the contours of the crystal and the domed dial. Also faithful to this watch’s 60s predecessors — though not necessarily in the service of nighttime legibility — the hour and minute hands each feature just a smattering of Super-LumiNova at their tips. This is the only luminous material on the watch; it’s notably absent on the hour markers. The subdials have a subtle snailed pattern along with their own gradient finish. The numerals in the subdials are of a more conventional, sans-serif type than the funky 12 and 6 o’clock numerals.

The subdials are slightly recessed and embellished with a snailed finish.

The back of the case offers a slightly more industrial look than the elegant front, with visible screws securing the wide ring that frames the sapphire exhibition window. Said window offers a glimpse of the movement, Caliber 39-34, used for the first time inside one of the manufacture’s Sixties Annual Editions; this watch is, in fact the first chronograph in that exclusive series. with automatic winding, an integrated chron0graph function, and a 40-hour power reserve. Visible through a clear sapphire caseback, the sublimely decorated movement features the traditional three-quarter mainplate with Glashütte ribbing — a finish similar to the Geneva wave motif of Swiss-made calibers — along with the distinctly German element of a swan’s neck fine adjustment mechanism. The skeletonized rotor, also enhanced with Glashutte ribbing, swings with a 21k gold weight, while a cutout “GG” logo in the rotor’s center adds another splash of golden color. The chronograph functionality is courtesy of a Swiss-made Dubois-Depraz module integrated into the in-house base Caliber 39-22. From a technical standpoint, the modular movement offers a swift 28,800-vph frequency and a respectable 40-hour power reserve.

The watch’s Caliber 39-34 is self-winding via a gold-weighted, decorated rotor.

The strap of the 2020 Sixties Chronograph is also rather different than most of those that preceded it on the Annual Editions, made of a soft Nubuck leather with a suede-like texture and a light gray contrast stitching. It closes with a classic steel pin-buckle — satin-brushed rather than polished like the case, interestingly — with the brand’s double-“G” logo in relief. The strap has a similar tone to the dial’s muted blue, and it is exceedingly comfortable on the wrist. Managing to look both retro and contemporary, eye-catching yet somehow restrained, the watch offers (pardon the expression) an undeniable cool factor, and — as any once-a-year specialty should — leaves one anxious to see what the brand will follow it up with in 2021.

Manufacturer:Glashütte Original, Altenberger Straße 1
01768 Glashütte/Saxony, Germany
Reference number:1-39-34-04-22-02
Functions:Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph
Movement:Glashütte Original Caliber 39-34, automatic, based on Caliber 39-22, 28,800 vph (3Hz), 51 jewels, 40-hour power reserve, three-quarter mainplate with Glashütte ribbing, swan’s neck fine adjustment, beveled edges, polished steel parts.
Case:Polished stainless-steel case with sapphire crystals in front and back, water resistant to 30 meters
Bracelet and cla­­sp:Brown-gray Nubuck leather strap with steel pin buckle
Dimensions:Diameter = 42 mm, height = 12.4 mm
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