On March 6, 2013, Glashütte’s factory dedicated to dial production was completed. Günter Wiegand, General Manager of Glashütte, presided over the inauguration of the new dial production plant in Pforzheim, Germany. Mr. Wiegand and factory manager Kurt Müller led the guests through a well-lit 1,300-square-meter building.
With a large investment, this dial production plant in Stuttgarter StraBe 24 is equipped with advanced machinery dedicated to dial production; however, as in the past, much of the work is still done manually.
The dial manufacturing plant has been owned by the Swatch Group since mid-2006; in early 2012, the plant was merged by the Glashütte watchmaking plant. Glashütte management decided to rebuild and modernize this old dial factory in view of the limited space and plans to expand production. There are currently 48 employees working at the Pforzheim plant; this number is expected to double in the next few years, and five trainee positions are also planned.
Talking about the purpose of the new building, Günter Wiegand said: ‘The production of dials is undoubtedly the most difficult task in the manufacture of high-value watches. To this end, we will make full use of the traditional experience and competition of the Pforzheim plant And will expand the plant in the future. ‘
Background information on dial production
The Glashütte dial manufacturing plant is one of the few factories producing its own blanks. Depending on the dial, the blanks will be made of precious materials such as gold, platinum, sterling silver or mother-of-pearl. In general, the dial thickness is only 0.8 mm. The special edition watch made of fragile mother-of-pearl dial is a 0.4mm thick layer of natural material on a 0.4mm bottom plate.
Most of the work of dial manufacture is done by hand, whether it is tiling or monitoring the surface coating. For example, the blue dial of the Glashütte 1970s calendar series has a radial surface, which is created by rotating a copper brush. Then add a layer of lacquer or increase the color by electroplating, and then the color applied in this way will be sent to an oven and baked at a high temperature of 110 to 140 degrees Celsius for two hours.
The most difficult process in this process, printing, requires years of experience. Some dials, such as those of the Senator Observer, have hands and numbers printed instead of painted. Printing is performed by so-called ‘pad printing’. The litter is dipped in ink from a negative with an engraved pattern, and then transferred to the dial by means of a rubber stamp. Before the dial is completed, it must go through six quality inspections. The entire dial, including its numerous details, has to undergo about 75 separate operations before it can be considered a finished product and can be mounted on the surface of the Glashütte timepiece.