Mühle-Glashütte 29er Watch Review
Summary: Mühle-Glashütte is probably one of the lesser-known German watch manufacturers but their watches have a unique look and style that can't be mistaken for any other brand. It's not easy to choose a favorite Mühle-Glashütte wristwatch, but the 29er hit all the right buttons, with a perfect combination of sport and dress style.
Watch collectors know that the "About Us" history on most watch manufacturer websites is, well, let's just say it is sometimes more of a fantasy than reality.
A watch manufacturer likes to claim 100-year-plus lineage and sometimes they'll bend the truth to fill in the years that went missing due to production stoppages, buyouts or non-wristwatch related side ventures.
So it may not be possible to verify the claim that Mühle-Glashütte has been making watches since 1869.
What is verified, however, is that Mühle-Glashütte watches are made in Germany by a company who specializes in "Nautische Instrumente" -- nautical instruments and timekeeping systems for ships.
Real ships, crewed by real sailors!
This in and of itself is definitely something to be proud of and it's also a wonderful background and history to use for making and selling wristwatches.
Mühle-Glashütte makes a very nice variety of wristwatches too, ranging from examples like the dressy Robert Mühle Special Editions or the City 99 and the Lady 99, to "heavy-duty" rugged workhorses like the Marinus and Rasmus heavy-metal dive watches.
What's a "29er"?
The Mühle-Glashütte 29er has the look and feel of an Mühle-Glashütte watch and it also fits perfectly with the nautical ambience that the company maintains. That's because the 29er is named after the 29er sailboat -- a "hot" sailboat, claimed to be "the most popular skiff design in the world". The 29er has with a very active racing class.
One of the things that is different about racing a 29er is that it's an "open class"; that is, it's unlimited. Anyone can crew a 29er -- women, children, men and boys. Youth race against adults and, it is said, this helps prevent youngsters from getting bored with Blue Jays and 420's, while they can also learn from very experienced sailors. You can learn more about the 29er sailboat in this interesting .pdf article entitled "29er Myths, Retorts and FAQs Intended for Prospective 29er Parents".
Since the 29er is more popular in Europe, Australia and Asia than it is in the U.S., for some reason, but in any case, Mühle-Glashütte decided to create a watch to honor both the sailboat and the young people who crew it. "The small yawl is considered particularly fast, sporty and dynamic, making it the ideal name-giver for our 29er models", according to the company.
The Mühle-Glashütte 29er Wristwatch
Mühle-Glashütte classifies their watches in four different categories: "Nautical", "Classical", "Sporty Instrument" and "Limited Editions". The 29er is in the "Sporty Instrument" category; that is, it's not dive watch rated but it's not quite a dress watch either.
I had been getting a bored with the typical dive watch look, but since I haven't worn a tie in so long I can't remember, I didn't want a dress watch either. So I made a checklist, which included features like a bracelet, stainless steel, brushed with some polished accents, white dial and screw-down crown. One day while searching for watches that matched my criteria, I found a used 29er for sale and realized that it checked all the boxes.
I didn't know much about Mühle-Glashütte prior to that but after some research about the brand, I became intrigued and soon after, the 29er was mine.
This is actually the "29er BIG"; the basic 29er is listed at 36.5 mm across. Most of the 29er's I've seen for sale are the Big version, so apparently it's a popular wristwatch.
Mühle-Glashütte 29er Details
The 29er is a solid watch, with that "expensive" watch feel. It's a funny thing, but high-quality watches just feel different than the mostly inexpensive stuff I usually buy. Although the size of the 29er isn't extraordinarily big compared to other watches I own, its "all dial" countenance and slightly tall height make it feel pretty big.
But, I was able to adjust the wonderful bracelet by taking out a couple of links to fit my 7.125" wrist perfectly. The double-deployant bracelet has no additional micro-adjustment holes, but I guess I got lucky. The snug but not-too-tight fit is perfect and helps keep the watch aligned on my wrist.
It weighs a hefty 165 grams with the two links gone and it measures 42.5 mm across (not counting the crown) and 11.5 mm tall, which is really about the same as my Glycine Combat Sub. Yet, the 29er wears more like a 44 mm or 45 mm dive watch for some reason.
The case and bracelet are all stainless steel. The case sides and lugs are brushed and the bracelet is also lightly brushed, just enough to remove the polish. The bezel on top and bottom are polished for a nice offset and they match the diamond-cut raised stainless steel indices on the dial.
The back of the case is very flat and along with the lug shape, this helps make the watch wear very nicely on my wrist, as you can see in the photos. The 29er is available with either a black or white face, with or without a bracelet.
The non-bracelet versions come with a brown leather strap and they are slightly less expensive, but the rule of thumb is to always buy the bracelet version because it's much cheaper to swap it out for a leather strap than vice-versa.
Lume and Hands
The one criticism I might have of the 29er is the lume, which is nearly non-existent. I knew this when I bought the watch; the style of the watch is such that it just doesn't have enough surface area for lume because of the stainless steel indices. It doesn't bother me but it may bother others.
However, if you want lume, Mühle-Glashütte would be happy to sell you a Marinus or Rasmus diver or one of their S.A.R. Rescue Timers, developed for and with the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service.
The hands are thin metal and filled with lume, and there are tiny lume dots just above each of the five-minute marks, which are numbered along the sloping chapter ring. I think this would be a good watch to install some tiny tritium tubes instead of the lume dots...
The red seconds hand very nicely sets off the white face. It floats just above the minute indices on the sloped chapter ring, which indicates careful design and attention to detail. The hour hand ends just inside the hour indices and the minute hand ends just at the outer edge of the indices, also a subtle but careful design to allow easy and accurate reading of the time.
Movement and Operation
Mühle-Glashütte uses ETA or Selitta movements (and they recently announced one of their own manufactured movements), but each movement, in-house or not, are modified and adjusted to five positions before they leave the factory.
In addition, Mühle-Glashütte installs their own "Woodpecker" screw adjuster to regulate the watch. This is similar to the "Swan Neck" type of regulator, with a tiny screw that allows for very precise adjustments when timing the watch.
The movement, the five-position adjustment and the special modifications were the features that sold me on the 29er. The 29er uses a modified Selitta SW200 movement and I have no problem at all with buying a Selitta movement and, in fact, I'm glad there's finally some serious competition for ETA.
Indeed, the 29er is absolutely the most accurate watch I own or have ever owned. The five-position adjustment apparently makes a big difference, as I can leave this watch overnight in any position -- face up or down; crown up or down -- and it doesn't vary. It remains within 1 second per day accuracy, which is pretty astounding.
Otherwise, the SW200 movement operates like the ubiquitous ETA 2824-2. Unscrew the signed crown and pull it out one click to adjust the date and pull it out a second click to "hack" the watch and adjust the time. A few rotating shakes and the red seconds hand starts ticking away in a very smooth movement.
The Mühle-Glashütte 29er is a beautiful "sporty" watch that's perfect for dress or casual wear. The list price is actually fairly reasonable for a watch of this quality, with a customized movement and adjusted to five positions. The overall look and feel of the watch puts it in the semi-luxury class in my opinion, equal to or besting some of the more well-known brands for sure.
Published: February 2012