A Lange and Sohne

Why Collectors Dream About A.Lange & Söhne

In the small world of fine watchmaking, there are few brands who merit broad appeal to sophisticated collectors. A.Lange & Söhne, the most Swiss of all German manufactures, is undeniably one. Its discretion, exclusivity, and its technicality make it an object of rare desire.

By Benjamin Teisseire

Far from glittery, extra-large cases, diamonds, and high-tech materials, A. Lange & Söhne prefers to stick to traditionally pure watchmaking. Located in Glashütte, surrounded by the peacefulness of this secluded watch valley, the manufacture perpetuates its watchmaking know-how, both technical and decorative. The brand constantly produces a sharp look aimed at appealing to the personal pleasure of savvy buyers of its exceptional timepieces.

On the occasion of the arrival of the German brand at Bucherer's Geneva boutique, a temporary exhibition will be held from June 12 to 22nd to present rare pieces as well as the 2019 novelties and iconic models. It will be preceded by a breakfast organized by A. Lange & Söhne and Watchonista, on the morning of June 12, where a few lucky collectors will be able to preview these exceptional watches.

A story of passion

In 1845, Ferdinand Adolph Lange founded A. Lange & Söhne and made the most renowned German pocket watches of the time. When the war destroyed the production tools in 1945, the brand fell into oblivion. But love for watchmaking continued to flow in the veins of family descendants.

At the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Walter Lange, great-grandson of the founder, dreamed of reviving the name. With the help of the late Günter Blümlein - Director of Engineering at LMH (The Watch Manufactures), formerly VDO, and owner of IWC, Jaeger-Lecoultre, and A. Lange & Söhne - the illustrious Glashütte Manufacture launched its new models in 1994. The Lange 1, with its clean dial, its perfect asymmetry, and fine finishing, immediately becomes an endless source of discussion and envy for all collectors. 25 years later, the Lange craze is growing bigger by the day due to the constant work of perfecting technical innovation. And enthusiasts know it.

Anniversary of an icon

In 2019, the Lange 1 celebrates its 25th anniversary. This model is one of the few timepieces immediately recognizable without any ostentation. It is an affirmation in itself the philosophy of the house. A discreet elegance, almost austere, hiding a marvel of haute horlogerie. Everything is in the details as is often the case in exceptional pieces that delight collectors. This edition of the Lange 1 25th Anniversary, limited to 250 pieces, still raises the bar.

The balance of the 38.5mm case is perfect. The dial features intense royal blue hands and indexes that marry beautifully with white gold. The large double window of the big date is ultra-readable and combines these same beautiful tones.

The red detail indicating the end of the 72-hour power reserve brings a hint of eccentricity. The satin finishes of the hour and minute dial play with the circular guilloche of the sub-counter of small seconds and the fine grain of the empty partition. It's discreet and elegant. Like straight angled and plunging lugs that offer extreme comfort when worn. The central part of the case is brushed satin to better contrast the mirror polished bezel. We turn the precious timepiece to discover the movement ... protected with an engraved white gold officer's hand. The Glashütte manufacture is unveiling itself to the last detail, as well as the anniversary and names of Walter Lange and Gunther Blümlein, the men responsible for the brand's revival.

When lifted, the platinum and nickel silver caliber is revealed. It's a manual winding L121.1 movement featuring eight golden chatons. Its blued screws, visible rubies, angled bridges, and Côtes De Genève make this movement impressive indeed. Only the hand-engraved swan neck balance bridge with its blue painted details and associated wheel are still visible. The very synthesis of the legendary discretion of the Saxon manufacture. A real collector’s piece!

Discreet excellence

The attraction of A. Lange & Söhne timepieces to collectors is quite obvious. The reasons are many. All watchmaking related. Mechanics, of course, are essential. And Glashütte's watches are known for their complexity, reliability, and accuracy. They all undergo a meticulous double assembly and disassembly. You can feel it as soon as you handle the watches.

Via these timepieces, we find the reassuring feeling of a beautiful German car. The sturdy feeling of closeing a door is mirrored in the winding of an A. Lange & Söhne movement or in the push buttons of the Datograph Perpetual.

This exceptional timepiece always combines complications without ostentation: big date, perpetual calendar, flyback chronographs, moon phases, day of the week, month, leap year, day/night indicators. Everything is there – discreetly. The manual winding caliber L952.1 and its 556 components that impresses through the sapphire back. A real watchmaking city in stages, levers, polished bevels and decoration. In the purest style of the great traditional complications of the manufacture.

German innovation

Collectors also appreciate the quality of innovation that is offered by this exceptional manufacture. The best example yet is probably the Zeitwerk and its digital display, launched in 2009. It offers a perfect synthesis of the innovative spirit of A. Lange & Söhne and the all-German efficiency with which the manufacture realizes its ideas. In the Zeitwerk Striking Time version or in this year's edition, the Zeitwerk Date, we find this seemingly confusing simplicity in the fluidity of the instant jumps of hours and minutes - always with the sensation of precision and German quality - and their muffled sound. An example of efficiency, it allowed the power reserve of this extremely complicated complication to go from 36 hours on the Striking Time to 72 hours on the Zeitwerk Date, with a peripheral display visible through numbers drilled in a disc under which turns a red dot that clearly indicates the correct date.

Tribute to the rich past

With such a dense history, A. Lange & Söhne has undeniable assets to produce pieces honoring their great watchmaking tradition. One of the most significant and important to the Saxon manufactory is the jumping second complication. That which can make believe to the beginner that you're in the presence of a quartz movement. As if to better hide his mechanical watchmaking excellence. This is a real tradition for A. Lange & Söhne since Ferdinand Adolph Lange invented it in 1867 and the manufactory obtained the first patent for it in 1877.

The 1815 "Tribute to Walter Lange" honors this invention, the design of the pocket watches of the time, and to Walter Lange himself. All the refinement, elegance and sober Germanic brilliantly synthesized in a 40.5mm case. The L1924 hand-wound caliber also offers a stop-second to further guarantee chronometric accuracy.

The other model that refers to their glorious past is the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds, which reveals the A. Lange & Sohne know-how in the form of a regulating display with a large jumping second in the upper part of the dial, the hours at 8 o'clock and the minutes at 4 o'clock. The intersection of the three circles forms a triangle in which the end of the power reserve appears in red. A "Zero-reset" function allows the seconds hand to instantly reset when the crown is pulled, allowing precise adjustment to the nearest second.

German engineering and precision in a model with very vintage accents but in a very modern realization - almost sporty - with its black dial and its small red keys indexes 15, 30, 45 and 60 minutes. Once again, A. Lange & Söhne manages to combine its rich past, its watchmaking know-how, and true modernity. What more can we ask for?

In conclusion, A. Lange & Söhne offers collectors what they want above all: technical excellence, a multitude of subtle details, exceptional finishes, and recognized watchmakers. A rarity as a bonus, limited editions or not. A real dream of collectors. A brand worthy of discovery at Bucherer's boutique in Geneva starting June 12th.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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