Interview: Glashütte CEO Yann Gamard
Tell us about the new Senator Excellence movement line
It’s a new milestone for the company. We’re good at developing and producing complicated watches, but this year we decided to completely rethink a simple automatic movement. And because we’re a manufactory, we’re able to sit everyone involved (design, development, production, and even after-services) down to resolve the Calibre 36 completely. The feat for us as a high-end watchmaker is to bring the perfect watch to fruition, and we managed to do so with many technical improvements. In fact, we’re so proud of this new movement that we even created a certification process whereby we test every individual watch as if it were a chronometer. We believe consumers will appreciate it because that’s what they expect from real “Made in Germany” products.
Why do an in-house certification?
It’s not an external certification because there’s no capacity for it in Germany. There’s one institution that does chronometer certification, but it’s just one guy, so even if we did small volumes, he wouldn’t be able to manage. Besides, we don’t need the “chronometer” label; it’s just our high-end movement that we qualify at the level of a chronometer. That’s not to say we think we’re better than the instituition, just that we do our own quality checks on our own watches. No pretension. Typical East Germans, you know – low profile but high results. We don’t like to make a lot of noise and prefer to manufacture beautiful pieces discreetly.
Does being discreet affect the perception of the brand?
The image of the brand has not changed; we are a true manufactory, and just that. It’s all about the people who work in our manufactory. We’ve survived 170 years of tormented history (to say the least), during which we enhanced our art in watchmaking in order to race with – or against – the Swiss to own a presence in the industry. That’s what we enjoy doing, and what we do proudly. Our main aim is for people to come visit us in Germany, to see what’s special or different for themselves; our manufactory visit programme is unique in that it enables you to understand every step in the making of our watches.
What makes Glashütte Original truly original?
We’re a German alternative to high-end Swiss watchmaking, at a sincere price. You get a lot of watch for the money, more so than most of the brands who pretend to be higher than what they are (due to a brand or watchmaker name). At the same time, we’re just a village name, but we encompass every profession that is meant to create a watch within our crib. That’s how we function.
You’ve expanded your presence in Asia with new boutiques opening in Singapore and China.
We create hubs in iconic cities, and Singapore for us will hopefully be one for Malaysia and Thailand as well. Asia’s an important region for us, not only because of the sheer population, but also because the people are curious and competent, more so than in the old continent. In China, people are on the Internet or WeChat, which makes them much more informed; the global Chinese community is very much dynamic and that’s something we’ve understood. I think Asians are interested in our own good-looking German watches; they don’t want us to produce something specifically for them. That’d be like buying a silk roll from China, but made in Germany – it doesn’t work. Every continent has its own facilities.
What sets a German timepiece apart?
First of all, being German is an attribute in itself, because there’s the expectation about (German) quality and expertise. Then there’s classical elegance and innovation, done in a ssleek manner. The Glashütte Original watch is complicated on the inside, but simple to use on the outside. And rather than a big bling thing, it’ll be something that breathes easily, so that you’re happy to wear it. Last year’s movement for the Senator Cosmopolite was very complicated, but it can be managed with a single crown. IT’s the same this year with the Calibre 36 – sleek and elegant, with the ability to add on features like the panoramic date, moon phase and perpetual calendar in the future.
It’s the idea of making complicated things simple.
Yes! We also have a bit of a playground in vintage watches with the Sixties and Seventies collections. Every now and then, we come up with fancy dials and great shapes to express the fact that we belong to this part of world history. So the spectrum of Glashütte Original is quite complete; it’s basically the entire German watch industry, not just a small niche.
This article was originally published in Men’s Folio Magazine May 2016