Baselworld 2012: Glashütte Original Senator Observer 1911 Julius Assmann (preview)
"Julius Assmann started his company at the age of 25 and is revered today as one of the founding fathers of watchmaking in Glashütte. Pocket watches, chronometers and observation watches crafted by Assmann and his employees were to play a significant role in establishing the company's far-reaching reputation: the observation watches in particular were known for their remarkable precision and superior craftsmanship.
Before setting out on his historic voyage, Roald Amundsen acquired a number of Assmann observation watches, including one crafted by the young Glashütte watchmaker Paul Löwe in 1907/08. Löwe's watch proved to be exceptionally precise, and he was urged to send it for testing to the German Naval Observatory in Hamburg, the institute officially responsible for testing and certifying the accuracy of navigational timekeepers made in Germany. It was there that Roald Amundsen saw the watch and purchased it in 1910."
"On December 14th, 1911, the Norwegian polar explorer and his team became the first persons ever to reach the geographic South Pole. 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, and Amundsen will have made good use of his observation watches during his voyage to Antarctica on the polar ship, Fram.
Once he and his team set out from their base camp at Framheim on the Bay of Whales, however, the time kept by his observation watches became the only standard: one watch was set to a home time and assumed the function of the marine chronometer on a ship; a second watch was set to local time; measurement of the difference between the two was used to calculate, using spherical trigonometry, the team's position during the trek to the South Pole; a compass and sextant were also used. Thus, Amundsen's observation watches were absolutely critical to his mission: without them, he could never have reached his destination, much less claimed victory for Norway. In Oslo today, the Fram Museum displays, along with many other artifacts documenting the historic trek, one of Amundsen's Glashütte observation watches, complete with the inscription "J. Assmann - Glashütte" on the dial."
The Senator Observer comes in a 44 mm polished white gold case with a brown calfskin strap. The dial is white with a railroad chapter ring, black Arabic numerals and blued hands. The case back is engraved with the limited edition number (01/25). The sapphire crystal is anti-reflective and displays 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".
Powering the Senator Observer is caliber 100-14, a high precision self-winding mechanical movement. A hand-wound movement is typical of this type of watch, although today, it is hard to argue the convenience of an automatic winding rotor. Caliber 100-14 is immaculately finished; featuring a Glashütte three-quarter plate, screw-mounted gold chatons, and a rotor with 21-carat gold oscillating weight and the gold-plated double-G mark.
The movement features a reset mechanism, which makes for easier synchronization of the second hand with standard time (a function that is especially important for a timepiece used for an expedition or other scientific ventures). The second hand is not coupled with the winding stem or crown. Instead, when setting the time, the second reset mechanism is activated by pushing a separate corrector, allowing for precision time setting, down to the second.