Glashutte Original: All in good time
Thomas Meier, CEO of the luxury German watch brand, on what makes haute horology interesting and why he doesn't own a smartwatch
For you, what makes Glashutte Original unique?
In two words: original understatement. Complicated and lavishly decorated on the inside, but very pure and easy to read on the outside – that's the unmistakable mix of aesthetic clarity and ingenious engineering that distinguishes our timepieces.
You studied micro-mechanics before training in business administration, and then as an apprentice watchmaker. Do you think of yourself as a businessman first and foremost, or a watchmaker? Or do the two roles go hand in hand?
If it comes to technical issues, I think like a watchmaker, if it comes to business decisions, I am all business, of course. So both roles go hand in hand, and being a watchmaker and an engineer definitely helps in running in a watch manufactory successfully.
What do you admire about other brands from the town of Glashutte?
The way that the nine different watchmaking brands work alongside each other as neighbours in Glashutte is absolutely unique. I don’t think you would find that situation anywhere else in the world.
All of us are adding to the dynamic and diversity in this small town while contributing to and building on the reputation of Glashutte as the centre of German watchmaking. Each brand individually has helped in establishing the term "Made in Glashutte" as a recognised seal of quality worldwide.
What do you think German watchmakers do especially well? And how do they compare to Swiss and Japanese watchmakers?
The Swiss watch industry is a big part of this industry and they do exquisite watches, as do the Japanese. It is an honour for us to be able to race with them and to be part of the game. They recognise that we are a solid and serious player in high-end watchmaking.
In order to compete with Swiss brands, we have to be very good at precision, accuracy, and exceptional functionality. And as a German brand we are very good at exactly these things. We also have our own sense of elegance and beauty. It is usually very clean. We are very much focused on functionality. Thus our watches are very complex on the inside, but very clear, and easy to read on the outside.
Customers appreciate us for that typical "purist" design paired with the high-end engineering that is "Made in Germany”, as well as the traditional Glashutte craftsmanship at the heart of all of our watches. The authentic manufacturing process in which almost all our movement components as well as our dials are made completely in-house, adds to that value tremendously, of course.
What are your thoughts on smart watches and do you own one?
No, I don’t own one, but I do own a very beautiful mechanical timepiece – that will never need a battery change and will never go out of style.
In a completely digital world with fast-fashion trends, people more than ever are seeking things with consistent value – something analogue, stable and thus special.
A smart watch is useful for sure, but a mechanical watch is a statement.
What would your advice be to someone who is considering getting themselves their very first luxury watch, but isn't yet a fully fledged horophile?
Your first luxury watch should be an easy-to-use, functional timepiece with distinct design and a true high-end manufacture movement from an established watchmaker with a long tracking history and a great brand value.
2016 was widely regarded as a tough year for the luxury watch industry but there are signs that a recovery is now underway. What challenges does the luxury watch industry continues to face and how are you tackling them?
2016 has been a good year for us. With our Senator Excellence line we have launched a new innovative generation of timepieces addressed exactly to the customer’s needs for beautiful, highly functional yet easy to use products. We offer something that end consumers truly appreciate us for: a lot of substance at a very fair price. The positive growth in most markets shows that we haven’t gone wrong with that approach.
Of course we are lucky enough to be part of a strong group that follows an excellent product, pricing, and production strategy based on long-term goals, not short term events. So, we have all reason to be optimistic for the upcoming months.
What are the qualities that make a truly exceptional timepiece?
An exceptional timepiece is the one that you never want to take off your wrist: a timepiece that offers the perfect combination of technical ingenuity and outstanding design.
For me it is the watch I am currently wearing: the PanoMaticLunar with the blue dial in stainless steel. The iconic Panorama Date, the charming moon phase, the hue of blue of the dial – that’s simply an outstanding combination of features. I saw this watch when I first toured the Glashutte Original manufactory, and I immediately fell in love with it.
For more, visit glashuette-original.com