GUB Chronometer, 1st Quality

The tenure of the entity known as "GUB" links today's Glashutte Original/Union Glashutte with the origins of Glashutte watchmaking in 1845. Created from the remnants of East German factories in 1951, Glashutte Uhrenbetrieben served as the State watchmaker until the fall of the Soviet Union. The company was formally privatized in 1994, and in 2000 became part of the Swatch group.

According to Fritz von Osterhausen's "Wristwatch Chronometers", after WWII chronometer testing continued at the observatory in Hamburg until 1957 when responsibility was tranferrred to the Agency for Measure and Weight in East Berlin and Stralsund. At least originally, testing was largely in accordance with established Swiss standards, but it appears uncertain that these were maintained permanently. The present watch incorporates a version of GUB's caliber 70, apparently the only movements certified as chronometers by the time of its production in the late 1960s. Although such movements were to be stamped "70.3" rather than my example's "70.1", FvO makes it clear that only the use of a screwed mono-metallic (rather than flat) balance distinguishes a chronometer movement, and that it hardly seems surprising that otherwise identical parts might be assembled interchangably. In any case, even the GUB chronometer movements were not very well finished, apparently being servicable and consistent, rather than exceptional and elegant.

This watch is 36mm diameter, exclusive of crown, and plated with 14k gold, except for the original back, which is steel. The movement is 12 1/2 lignes (about 28mm) diameter and incorporates proprietary shockproofing. Despite its questionable credentials as a "fine watch", the GUB is actually rather handsome, its simple, one-piece case is nicely sculpted, and the gold sunburst dial with applied markers is attractive and legible, if stylistically dated even considering its actual age.

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February 27. 2003

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