The newly announced Glashütte Original Senator Observer 1911 Julius Assmann, limited to 25 pieces (the age at which Assmann founded his watch ‘manufacture’), pays homage to the founder of GO, Julius Assmann, and famed Polar explorer Roald Amundsen. Why this unlikely combination? Yes, there’s a story behind the name… Before setting out on his historic voyage to the South Pole, Roald Amundsen acquired a number of Assmann’s observation watches, including one made by Glashütte watchmaker Paul Löwe in 1907-08. When Löwe had completed his watch, it had proved to be exceptionally precise, and he was urged to send it to the German Naval Observatory in Hamburg, which tested and certified navigational time keeping equipment.
It was there that Amundsen saw the watch, which he purchased it in 1910. When his exploration team went on their polar trek to the South Pole in 1910, their only means of tracking their journey time and global positioning was their observation timepiece – the Assmann Löwe observation watch.
Amundsen’s observation watches were critical to his mission. Without them, he and his team could not have become the first people to reach the geographic South Pole on December 14, 1911.
At the Fram Museum in Oslo, you can see one of Amundsen’s Glashütte observation watches, complete with the inscription “J. Assmann – Glashütte” on the dial. Observation watches, also known as “deck watches” were used by navigation officers in conjunction with marine chronometers and other instruments to determine as precisely as possible a ship’s position at sea.
The Senator Observer 1911 is a very classic looking observation watch in a 44mm white gold case, with a lacquered silver-grain dial created from three layers of white lacquer, the third of which features a finely textured, silver-grain surface. The dial has subsidiary seconds and power reserve displays at 9 and 3 o’clock, a panorama date display at 6 o’clock; and blued and polished sweep minute and pear-shaped hour hands. A milled railroad chapter ring frames the black Arabic numerals.
Visible through the caseback is the automatic Calibre 100-14 with a three-quarter plate, screw-mounted gold chatons, and bi-directional 21 carat gold oscillating weight. The base movement is outfitted with a reset mechanism, which allows for easier synchronisation of the second hand with standard time (the second hand jump to zero, making it easier to set the time, precise to the second). In contrast to other reset mechanisms, the second hand is not coupled with the winding stem or the crown. This is so that the balance continuing to oscillate and the movement continuing to run when the crown is pulled out, reducing wear and tear.
The case back, engraved with the limited edition number (xx/25) has, engraved on it, the dates of Amundsen’s arrival at the South Pole and its centennial anniversary: 14 Dec. 1911 – 14 Dec 2011, the name Julius Assmann – Glashütte i/SA, and “Tribute to R. Amundsen”. I don’t know what the price is, but at a mere 25 watches, this will be highly sought after. It’s a beautiful classic piece, a commemorative model that actually makes sense, and I’d love to get my hands on one of these beauties just for a look.