Borrowed Time: Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite in Stainless Steel

Many high-class individuals fetishize the concept of exclusivity. That’s why many of the same people that hoard sought-after timepieces can be found savoring a tumbler of Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23, or might be spotted on the decade-long waitlist for a bottle of Syrah from the cult winery Sine Qua Non. The idea of exclusivity is of particular relevance in the contemporary watch industry, which is full of deep-pocketed individuals who use their connections to hoard “hyped-up” watches, creating a legitimate scarcity among ADs and retailers. This, in turn, impacts the general enthusiast from enjoying the fine timepieces like they were meant to. More often than not, brands are passive in letting this happen because, “Hey, the watches are selling out and – surprise, surprise – exclusivity is a great advertisement.”

With all that in mind, it’s time to discuss a brand that defies those horological hoarders and serial flippers and focuses on its best attributes: making sophisticated watches with useful complications at a reasonable price point. The brand I’m talking about is Glashütte Original and the watch I have in mind is the Senator Cosmopolite in stainless steel, one of the most underrated releases of 2018.

The Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite in stainless steel is a more accessible and youthful take on the brand’s innovative travel-time complication.

The Senator Cosmopolite as we know it today was first released in rose gold and white gold in 2015. Before that, the basic – and I mean that lightly – concept was introduced in 2012 with the Glashütte Original Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon. Following in those watches’ tradition, the most recent Senator Cosmopolite has a lot to offer. First of all, thanks to its new case material, the stainless-steel model is much less expensive, opening it up to a larger audience of world travelers and making it more feasible as a daily wearer. Second, the 2018 version features a refreshed design that feels more modern thanks to the usage of Arabic numerals supplemented by blue appliqués rather than Roman numerals and the transition from a railroad-style minutes track to separated markers. Another slight design change from the 2015 iteration is the absence of color on the day/night indicator at 9 o’clock for a more streamlined appeal; previously, the “night sky” was colored dark blue and the sun was yellow.

Glashutte Original Senator Cosmopolite RG soldier 560
The previous generation of Senator Cosmopolite in red gold

What’s remarkable about the Senator Cosmopolite doesn’t have much to do with its design – although the layout of the dial is important, which we’ll get to later – rather it is the watch’s comprehensive take on the world-time complication that sets it apart from a crowded field of 2018 releases.

Normally, worldtimers only include the option to display the time in the 24 time zones offset by one hour; the Senator Cosmopolite, on the other hand, has the ability to display the time in all 35 time zones, including those offset by half an hour or three-fourths of an hour.

This means the watch can, most notably, display India Standard Time (UTC +5:30), as well as the time in Afghanistan (UTC +4:30), Iran (UTC +3:30), Sri Lanka (UTC +5:30), Newfoundland (UTC -3:30) and Nepal (UTC +5:45). This is even more significant than you might think because the entirety of the Indian subcontinent is located within IST, meaning over 1.3 billion people and over 17 percent of the world’s population didn’t have much choice for a functioning worldtimer previously. Even if a huge majority of the country’s residents aren’t in the market for a luxury timepiece, there are millions of Indian expats throughout the world who have family in the country and could use a worldtimer to calculate an ideal time to call, one of the complication’s most valuable attributes.

Glashütte Original calls the big date at 4 o’clock “PanoramaDatum.”

It’s in this way that the Senator Cosmopolite is a worldtimer in the most literal sense of the word. Although it must be said that the concept isn’t entirely original – watches from other prestigious marques such as Vacheron Constantin, with the Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time in 2015, have achieved similar results in representing all the time zones. However, what makes the Senator Cosmopolite entirely unique is its display of the separate time zones and how the watch accounts for timing quirks like Daylight Saving Time.

The home time dial at 12 o’clock includes a power reserve gauge and a second day/night indicator.

With a few innovative exceptions, brands of all price points have long followed Louis Cottier’s archetypal 1931 Patek Philippe invention when building world-time collections. It was an epoch-making moment for horology and the design is easy to comprehend, so its ubiquity is understandable.

The Senator Cosmopolite is a departure from Cottier’s design in a number of ways. Most notably, the watch features two time zone displays that operate separately from one another. Home time is read from the subdial at 12 o’clock; the second time zone, aka your “destination” or “local” time, is told via the two central hour and minutes hands. There are three crowns that extend from 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock, and 8 o’clock that control the time-setting mechanism.

The first thing you want to do is set the home time courtesy of the crown at 2 o’clock. It sets like a standard wristwatch without jumping – which we’ll get to in a moment. (Note: This crown is connected to the running seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, meaning it will hack once it is pulled out.)

At 9 o’clock, there’s a day/night indicator for local time. At 6 o’clock, a small seconds subdial.

Up next is your local time that is set through the 4 o’clock crown. Once turned, the minutes hand jumps in 15-minute increments to account for all 35 time zone differences. It’s worth pointing out that this can be adjusted both backward and forward without any damage occurring to the watch’s movement due to the mechanism’s independence. The hour hand corresponds by moving forward at consistent intervals.

Before moving on, the other dial functions need to be defined. At 4 o’clock there is the classic German big date, which Glashütte Original calls “PanoramaDatum.” There are two night-and-day indicators on the dial as well. For your home time, there is a subtle aperture located in the 12 o’clock subdial that is dark during nighttime and white during the daytime. At 9 o’clock, there’s a sloping subdial that shows night or day in your local time. Additionally, in the 12 o’clock subdial, there is an arc that shows how much of the 72-hour power reserve remains. On the dial above the 8 o’clock crown is a small pusher used for setting the date.

The twin apertures at 8 o’clock showcase whether the local time is in Daylight Savings Time or Standard Time through the usage of IATA codes.

At 8 o’clock is an unusual complication that will be new to anyone unfamiliar with the 2015 Senator Cosmopolite. Basically, there are two apertures that denote Daylight Saving Time (DST) and Standard Time (STD). Inside the apertures is a disk with the list of all 35 IATA (International Air Transport Association) codes that correspond with the time zone they are located in. This disk is connected to the crown at 4 o’clock so as the central poire hands jump forward, so will the IATA codes. Since the local time needs to match the IATA code in its corresponding aperture, it might be necessary to correct the aperture after local time is set using the crown at 8 o’clock. The IATA codes use three different colors to describe the GMT offset time: the 24 time zones with a full hour difference are printed in black, the eight time zones with a half-hour difference in blue and the three additional time zones (three-fourths of an hour) in red.

Once everything has been set and all your indicators and subdials are aligned to the accurate and most useful time, you will be all set for your next trip, or to make that cross-continental call to grandma. Moving forward, all that is necessary is adjusting the local time using the 4 o’clock crown either clockwise if you’re traveling east from home, or counter-clockwise if you’re traveling west. Because of the interconnected movement, the Panorama Date, a.m./p.m. indicator, and IATA disc will automatically adjust with it. The home time dial, along with its a.m./p.m. indicator will remain the same.

Blued hands and indexes make the dial come alive.

It’s this structure that makes the Senator Cosmopolite – while confusing at first – such a unique and approachable timepiece once its full capabilities have been explained. Everything should now be set but there’s still the question of the Daylight Saving Time apertures and how they help the Senator Cosmopolite stand out compared the stagnant worldtimers of the past.

A traditional worldtimer, with its 24 time zones set around an outer ring, doesn’t allow for any flexibility when it comes to Daylight Saving Time and its on-again, off-again nature in countries around the world. The trouble for representing this on a watch dial comes when we’re comparing the time difference between two countries, where one observes Daylight Saving Time and the other does not. For example, the time difference between New York, which observes DST, and Hong Kong, which doesn’t, is 12 hours during New York’s Daylight Saving Time and 13 hours when the city is in Standard Time. A worldtimer using Louis Cottier’s design would only display the difference as 13 hours without change, requiring additional calculation by the wearer, and defeating the overall point of a travel-time wristwatch.

Glashütte Original counteracts this through the use of the 8 o’clock apertures. When Daylight Saving Time rolls around in New York, the local time will need to be adjusted one hour backward, or four 15-minute jumps. The IATA code signifying New York, JFK, will have moved from the DST window into the STD aperture signaling this change.

The movement that powers all of these complex-yet-intuitive functions is manufacture Calibre 89-02, which is the same movement used in the previous 18k gold versions from 2015 (the Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon used Calibre 89-01). It’s visible through an exhibition caseback – which thank goodness for, as the traditional German watchmaking on display here is something to behold. A gorgeous Glashütte-stripe finish runs across the time-honored three-quarter plate movement. Polished bevels provide ample texture into the quarter opening that displays the stunning, hand-engraved, gold-plated balance cock. On top of the balance wheel is the brand’s regulator-free regulation system with a dual swan-neck spring that can be adjusted using the four tiny screws on the balance wheel, ensuring a high degree of rate precision. The balance itself beats at 28,8000 vph. There’s an off-center micro-rotor also constructed from gold – another sign of traditional Glashütte watchmaking – that allows for the watch’s impressive three-day power reserve.

Moving back to the dial side, all the subdials, apertures and complications are spread-out in an even manner imbuing the watch with its refined appearance. The blued poire hands stretch across the dial and complement the printed blue Arabic numerals and appliqués. On the 12 o’clock subdial, the hands are nearly identical but the printed numerals are black rather than blue to denote the time difference. There’s a mixture of fonts on the dial that is slightly disconcerting and contrasts with the overall tastefulness of the watch but, thankfully, there are no egregious kerning or other graphic design issues. In fact, the varnished, matte dial offers a lot of forgiveness for any small flaws. During my time with the watch, I found that when sunlight hit the watch just right, the blued hands and indexes combine with the soft whiteness of the dial to really come alive in a symphony of Teutonic timing pleasure. Finally, the case features a combination of satin-brushed and polish finishing that just adds to the watch’s overall handsome decoration.

In discussing wearability, there’s no getting around it, this is a substantial watch. At 44 mm by 14 mm, the watch actually wears bigger due to the almost-non existent bezel but is aided by the chunky lugs that help it fit wrists of any size. It’s also worth noting that thanks to the new stainless steel case material, the watch is substantially lighter than its gilded predecessors. Regardless, it’s unlikely to fit under a shirt cuff anytime soon. The reason for this overall robustness is due to the highly-complicated movement that is sized at 39.2 mm by 8 mm. Glashütte Original took steps to decrease its thickness, namely the choice to use a micro-rotor, but with a complication like this, where there are multiple levels that require different adjustments, the size is impossible to avoid. That being said, I did wear the Senator Cosmopolite for over a week and, while it took a moment to get used to, I had no issue with the watch’s size or weight despite my thin wrists. It comes with a dark blue Louisiana alligator leather strap with your choice of a pin buckle or a fold-over clasp.

The Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite presents a fantastic value in its new stainless-steel dressing. While the previous generation in rose and white gold hammered home the German brand’s fondness for precious metals, the stainless-steel version is where the watch’s inherent functionality shines. At a little over $21,000, there might not be a better worldtimer value on the market today, considering all you are getting. A full manufacture movement, an innovative dual time zone display that accounts for 35 time zones plus Daylight Saving Time, and all the typical Glashütte decoration combines with one of the most effective and user-friendly adjustment systems I’ve seen, making this watch, in my personal opinion, the most important stainless-steel travel-time watch of 2018.

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  1. Debashish

    I would love to wear this watch with a steel bracelet, as I cannot support killing alligators or any other animal for my watch strap.

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