The production of dials is doubtless one of the most difficult of all the tasks involved in making fine mechanical watches. Along with creativity and absolute perfection, the production process requires maximum care and attention to detail, and as such the production of dials at Glashütte Original plays a special role. The unique dials used in our manufactory are made in Pforzheim, some 600 km from Glashütte, our own dial manufactory.
Long before discussions with the dial makers begin, however, the product designers in the Saxon manufactory have already spent many hours working on the concept and talking with other departments such as marketing and sales about the final drawings.
Once the design and materials for a particular Glashütte Original dial have been determined, a team of goldsmiths and dial specialists prepares to set up the production process.
Glashütte Original’s dial maker is one of the few such firms to make its own blanks. Depending on the dial, the blanks may be made from precious metals such as yellow gold, white gold and Sterling silver, or from traditional watchmaking materials such as German silver and brass.
All of the dial measurements are related to the movement with which it will later be linked. For this reason the measurements must meet tolerance requirements of 0.2 millimeters. Dials are, on average, 0.8 mm thick.
Special versions such as those made of fragile mother of pearl, for example, are usually comprised, however, of a 0.4 mm metal plate and a 0.4 mm thick layer of organic material affixed to it.
Most of the work involved in making a dial is performed by hand, whether it is a matter of placing appliques, applying luminous material to applique indexes or monitoring the application of surface decorations.
Rotating brass brushes are used to give the dials of the Seventies Panorama Date a sun-brushed surface. This production method requires considerable experience.
When the basic material is complete, a layer of colour is added to the dial using a lacquer or by means of galvanisation.
The colours layered on in this way are then fired in a galvanics department kiln for one or two hours at a temperature between 110 and 140 °C, depending on the colour and depth of colour required.
One of the last and most difficult processing steps requires many years of experience: printing. On certain dials such as those of the Senator Chronometer and Senator Observer, scale lines and numerals are printed rather than applied.
This is done using the socalled pad printing method. A pad made of silicone or rubber takes up an inked image from a reverse-image engraving and presses the image like a rubber stamp onto the dial.
Before a dial is considered complete it must undergo, during production, six different quality checks. Altogether the dial, with all its various details, is subject to around 75 separate work steps before it is considered finished and able to give a Glashütte Original timekeeper its "face".