Glance behind the curtain

A splash of colour from the former East Germany

The small Saxony town of Glashütte, just south of Dresden, is the birthplace of the German watchmaking industry. One of several watch brands still based there, Glashütte Original traces its beginnings back to the middle of the 19th century, but it is a much more recent piece of history that is celebrated with a new collection. 

After the Second World War the watchmaking industry in Glashütte was nationalised into the state-owned VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe. The Eastern Bloc might have a reputation for being a bit drab, but one series of products manufactured by this company achieved cult status. The Spezimatic was a series of automatic winding watches produced between 1964 and 1979 in large numbers and a wide range of different shapes and colours. 

A generation after reunification and privatisation, Glashütte Original is part of the Swatch Group and makes high-end timepieces. And now the company has decided to pay tribute to the Spezimatic with its Sixties Iconic Collection. 

The series of watches feature the domed dials of the originals with arched minute and hour hands and Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9 and 12. They come in a choice of distinctive colours: Sixties Red, Sixties Golden, Sixties Aqua, Sixties Brown and Sixties Grey. 

All five have a highly unusual dégradé effect on the dial, which involved a careful process of lacquering that leaves each watch with a unique finish. And the movement is Glashütte Original’s proprietary Calibre 39-52. So while the nod is towards watchmaking behind the iron curtain, the technicality of the finished product is very much cutting-edge.