If you’re up to speed with your German watchmaking history – and let’s face it, who isn’t? – then you already know that 2019 is an important year for A. Lange & Söhne. It marks 25 years since the brand made its official return to the world stage following its re-founding after the reunification of Germany. Kicking off the year-long celebrations, A. Lange & Söhne debuted five new pieces at the 2019 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève (SIHH) last month.
The LANGE 1 – which is celebrating its 25th birthday – is of special note. Largely responsible for A. Lange & Söhne’s swift return to prominence, it has become a symbol for the brand’s rebirth. Likewise, the ZEITWERK – representing another turning point in the brand’s modern history – is also celebrating a birthday, its 10th. Here’s what our expert team has to say on all five new models.
On October 24, 1994, the LANGE 1 joined three other now iconic models in heralding the brand’s second coming. Critical acclaim for its trailblazing dial layout was so fever-pitched that the name A. Lange & Söhne was restored virtually overnight. Based on the subtle hints dropped by the brand, this 250-piece limited edition is the first of several anniversary models that will be released over 2019.
The The Lange 1 “25th Anniversary” is offered in a beautifully constructed 18ct white gold case, measuring a comfortable 38.5mm x 10.7mm thick. The iconic dial is made from solid silver and instantly catches the eye. Recessed matte areas and raised borders around the sub-dials and indications create a nice sense of depth, while the blued steel hands and printed indexes complete what is indeed a very attractive package. Hours and minutes are displayed off-centre on a sub-dial at 9 o’clock, whilst the running seconds are shown on a smaller sub-dial at 5 o’clock. The instantly recognisable outsize date display appears at 2 o’clock, with the power reserve indicator just beneath.
On the reverse a solid white gold hinged caseback is intricately engraved with an image of the Lange headquarters, along with the names of Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein (the original architects of the brand’s resurrection), and a relief engraving of the inscription “25 YEARS LANGE 1”. Flipping this cover open reveals the manually wound calibre L121.1 (introduced in 2015), which is visible through a sapphire caseback.
This exceptional mechanical movement is equipped with a freely oscillating Lange balance spring paired with a large cam-poised balance that assures superb rate accuracy, while the twin mainspring barrels deliver a power reserve of 72 hours. Lavishly hand-finished, it boasts a signature three-quarter plate in untreated German silver, balance cock hand engraved with the outsize date and blue lines, and eight screwed gold chatons.
The Zeitwerk is undoubtedly one of the most unique looking mechanical watches from any brand. The precisely jumping digital display is simply mesmerising to watch, its apparent simplicity masking its stunning complexity. Now, 10 years after the first model, the ZEITWERK DATE introduces a date function to the ZEITWERK family.
Infinitely more difficult than it sounds, the unusual dial architecture and limited available space provided ample challenges for A. Lange & Söhne’s best technicians to overcome. But overcome them they did, conceiving a highly attractive yet unconventional peripheral glass date display, with printed numbers from 1 to 31. The precisely switching ring date is easy to read at a glance thanks to a colour segment (in red), which highlights the current date (advancing by one increment exactly at midnight). It harmoniously integrates with the distinctive jumping numerals digital time display, adding just that little something extra. Best of all, the date can be easily adjusted by the dedicated pusher at 8 o’clock, so no fumbling around trying to get the crown in the right position.
To make all this possible, the precisely jumping hours and minutes of the mechanical digital display are handled by the newly conceived calibre L043.8. This manual wound movement incorporates an additional pusher at 4 o’clock for the independent advancement of the hour indication. The micro-mechanical masterpiece also handles the new date function. Still in place is the patented constant-force escapement, which regulates a uniform amount of force to the balance for the entire (72-hour) running duration, whilst also delivering the once-a-minute impulses for switching the three-disc jumping numerals display. The lavishly finished movement is viewable through a rear sapphire.
On the wrist, the white gold case measures a comfortable 44.2mm x 12.3mm thick. Admittedly it’s a touch on the larger side, but when you consider the complexity of the movement inside it’s easy to see why. The distinctive dial is crafted from solid silver, while the famed time bridge is hewn from rhodiumed German silver. A power reserve display sits just below 12 o’clock, while running seconds are shown on the sub-dial at six o’clock. For both displays, the hands are made from rhodiumed gold. Completing the look is a dark brown, hand-stitched, alligator leather strap.
For those in the know, the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph is a modern masterpiece. If you’re not sure why that is, read our deep dive into the world’s best mechanical chronograph. The ultimate expression of this incredible timepiece is the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, which unites three significant complications: the flyback chronograph with precisely jumping minute counter; the perpetual calendar with moon phase display; and the tourbillon with patented stop-seconds mechanism. This year, the German watch manufacturer has chosen to dress up one of its most complicated pieces in an opulent white gold case, complete with an unprecedented stunning pink gold (salmon) dial.
Limited to just 100 pieces, A. Lange & Söhne has never before made a watch with an 18k solid pink gold dial. Adorned with solid gold appliques and hour markers, along with rhodiumed gold and blued steel hands, this incredible piece has literally stopped collectors in their tracks. To ensure optimal legibility, lume has been used on the hour and minute hands as well as the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock indexes. A power reserve indicator is nestled tidily at 10 o’clock.
From a technical viewpoint, the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon is simply mind-blowing. With 729 components, the manufacture calibre L952.2 challenges even the most seasoned watchmaker’s skills. (All of the perpetual calendar’s displays switch instantaneously.) For the first time in a Lange tourbillon, the balance is calibrated to 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour. Corresponding to five semi-oscillations per second (2.5 Hz). Thus, stopped times are displayed with one-fifth of a second accuracy. The immaculate manual wind movement, with 50-hour power reserve, is on show through a rear sapphire.
In 2001, the Langematik Perpetual became the brand’s first watch to combine the Lange outsize date with a perpetual calendar. Now, in another first, it is being offered in Lange’s exclusive and proprietary Honey gold case metal, also in a limited edition of just 100 pieces. Perfectly sized for daily wear, the warm-hue case has a diameter of 38.5mm and thickness of just 10.2mm.
The perpetual calendar – which takes into account the different month lengths as well as leap years – will display accurately without the need for manual adjustment until the year 2100. Pairing this complication with a Honey gold case seems particularly fitting, as the metal is prized both for its beauty and its robust nature, emphasising the lasting validity of the calendar. The dial, crafted from solid silver, instantly catches the eye thanks to the embossed underlay around its periphery, as well as the intelligent but restrained use of colour. In addition to the case, Honey gold is used for the dial appliques, Roman numeral hour markers, hands, lunar disc and strap buckle.
Turning the watch over reveals an eye-catching view of the calibre L922.1, with a decentralised 3/4 rotor and elaborately engraved balance cock. This is one of the rare instances where Lange has opted for an automatic movement instead of a manually wound one, and the execution is simply flawless. Fully wound, it stores a power reserve of 46 hours.
The final watch on our list is the RICHARD LANGE JUMPING SECONDS, which this year receives the rare Lange black dial treatment. Paired with an understated white gold case measuring 39.9mm x 10.6mm thick, this highly traditional model has been transformed into an elegant and inherently modern timepiece.
The jumping seconds mechanism – moving the seconds hand by exactly 60 steps per minute – ranks among the classics in precision horology. Ferdinand A. Lange – A. Lange & Söhne’s original founder – conceived such a mechanism in 1867, and 10 years later his sons Richard and Emil filed for a patent. (One of the first ever issued from the newly formed Imperial Patent Office.) This the third RICHARD LANGE model with a regulator layout and places the seconds circle in the commanding top position. It also houses the third constant-force escapement developed by Lange. (In this case to provide constant power in one-second intervals.)
Doing the heavy lifting is the lavishly finished manual wind calibre L094.1, which is on display through the sapphire window on the case back. In typical Lange fashion, a ZERO-RESET mechanism adds extra complexity. Back on the dial side an “end of power indication” appears at the intersection of the three ‘time’ circles. It remains the colour of the dial until the final 10 hours of the 42-hour power reserve, then switches to red as a reminder to the wearer to wind the watch.
It’s been a strong start to the year for A. Lange & Söhne and we expect to see more exciting releases from the German Manufacture as it celebrates its significant anniversary. Please note three of the five models shown above are limited editions. The ZEITWERK DATE and RICHARD LANGE JUMPING SECONDS are not limited but supply will be restricted by inherently low annual production volumes.
Allocations for each of the above watches are in extremely short supply due to global demand so contact us now to discuss securing your pre-order and avoid disappointment.