IT WAS only fitting that Glashutte Original picked 1999 as the year during which to add a Perpetual Calendar model, which takes into account leap years, to its Senator Classic collection. The centurial year (or the end of a century) following the watch’s introduction was a leap year, the first after 400 years; 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years because a centurial year needs to be exactly divisible (no decimals) by four, 100 and 400 to be considered a leap year. This is an innovation of the Gregorian calendar so it could stay accurate to within a day in the course of more than 3,000 years.
Now, 20 years on, the Perpetual Calendar version defines the Senator Classic collection. And, like any proper mechanical timepiece with such a calendar complication, this Glashutte Original will not require its day, month and date displays to be adjusted until March 1, 2100. Its mechanism “knows” when leap years are. But 2100 isn’t one, like 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not.
The Senator Classic Perpetual Calendar’s 1999 rendition, framed by a rose gold case with a fluted bezel, changed the way a perpetual calendar complication is displayed on a dial. The watch had its calendar readouts — day, month, date — placed within windows located near 10 o’clock, two o’clock and four o’clock, respectively. Traditionally, these were displayed on round subdials. Glashutte Original’s 1999 layout eventually wound its way to every perpetual calendar piece the brand has made.
Powering the original steel-cased watch was the in-house cal. 39-50, a 48-jewel movement with 40 hours of power reserve, skeletonized 21-karat gold rotor and Glashutte Original’s swan neck fine-adjustment system.
A new Perpetual Calendar version in a rose gold case with a flat bezel came out in 2001. But the watch’s first major redesign was seen in 2005 as it received the new cal. 100-02. This in-house engine stored more power (55 hours), had a better calendar adjustment function and boasted a bi-directional rotor. The watch’s dial, though retaining the model’s basic layout, was more ornate. The first two models had silver dials but this one had a guilloche champagne-colored one. A piece released in 2006 had a simpler dial.
The silver dial returned in 2012. Most striking changes in the watch were the Roman numeral hour markers, black railroad chapter ring and blued leaf hands.
In 2017 the Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar continued the Senator Classic line’s look; the layout of the calendar displays remained the same and the watch mixed together the Roman numerals and indices which served as the hour markers for the previous models. The bezel grew thinner, too, getting dressier in the process, further helped by the silver grained dial and a 42-millimeter-wide case in rose gold.
Within this case is the in-house cal. 36 that boasts a silicon balance spring and a 100-hour power reserve sourced only from a lone mainspring barrel.
Glashutte Original in 2018 anticipated the Senator Perpetual Calendar’s 20th anniversary by releasing a special edition limited to only 100 pieces. This commemorative Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar is defined by a skeletonized dial and a white gold case housing the evolutionary cal. 36-02. Just as significant, the watch is still characterized by the innovative calendar display the seminal 1999 model introduced.
Which, clearly, is also quite fitting.