I remember about three years ago I was commenting on TURF that, amongst the mid-range watches that would make a nice change from the more usual fayre, Glashutte Original and Dornblueth had to be amongst the leading contenders. Since then I’ve managed to handle/enjoy/own quite a few of the former, but I have to admit that Dornblueth fell off the radar slightly, aside from when I saw some of the amazing photos that have been posted by the likes of Jocke and others. Anyway, I seem to have settled on the 42mm mark as a size that I rather like of late so when someone I know from TZ-UK listed his unworn 99.1 for sale I thought it might just fit the bill as a light-dialled all purpose watch that was also very different from anything I had.
The Dornblueth 99.1 comes in a 42mm case (manufactured by a supply partner who’s identity is a closely guarded secret, and who is not a supplier of cases to any other watchmakers), with a height of 11.5mm (in other words, it’s a substantial watch); the slightly domed sapphire crystal is AR coated on the underside. The movement starts life as a Unitas 6498 but Dirk modifies it to such a huge extent that it’s not surprising many people assume it to be in-house. There’s a long list of parts that are replaced – I was trying to hunt down some info on this from Mike Stuffler on WUS, but couldn’t find the post that I wanted and first read a couple of years ago. In any event, the movement’s a manual wind, beating at 18,000vph and providing a 50 hour reserve. The three-quarter plate is hand engraved in yellow gold and plated in rose gold, with a Côtes de Genève finish. Other nice touches are gold chatons, blued screws and a swan neck regulator, and overall the quality of finish is simply superb.
I was lucky in that the seller had originally ordered applied blue Arabic markers to match the gorgeous handset, and the movement plate is free of any personalisation. The only thing it doesn’t have is the quattro arret function to hack the movement, but at another €460 or thereabouts it’s not exactly a cheap option. All in all, I’m absolutely delighted, and whilst I haven’t (yet!) managed to get close to the quality of Jocke’s photos here are a few that didn’t come out too badly. As always, I’ll try to take some more when I’m less rushed.