SIHH 2017 was a bit of a bittersweet affair for A. Lange & Söhne. While the brand welcomed pieces like the epic Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Mérite and the sublime 1815 Annual Calendar, they also had to cope with the news of founder Walter Lange’s passing. Walter Lange’s contributions to A. Lange & Söhne cannot be overstated. Together with Günter Blümlein, Lange resurrected A. Lange & Söhne in 1990 shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In just four short years, they released the first new A. Lange & Söhne watches to the world. To pay tribute to his contribution, the brand has just unveiled the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” watch with no fewer than two seconds hands – one that sweeps and one that jumps.
The good silver dial isalso usual, galvanized and offers a rich metallic color, typical of the Saxonian brand’s generation. The comparison with the rhodium-plated or blued hands is very good — which is significant here because there are no fewer than 10 hands on the dial of the Triple Split!As for the dial, the principal difference with the Dual Split is the accession of some 12-hour countertop, while the AB/AUF power reserve indicator is currently placed at 6 o’clock — rather than its own 12 o’clock position on the Double Split. The main hands fit the situation material and the rattrapante hands are all made from blued steel. The big inner flange retains its tachymeter scale. Applied facetted hour mark in rhodium-plated gold complete this dial. Overall, no remarkable changes concerning style and design.Like any red-blooded watch fan, I have an ever-growing collection of pieces I would really like to grow my collection. There are the ones that are “affordable” (in the luxury watch world sense) and more or less readily available I think would be great additions to fill out my growing collection. The newest 36mm blue dial AP Royal Oak, a traditional Quick and a 36mm IWC Mark XVIII (slate dial) all fall into that category for me.And then there are those which become objects of extreme desire lust that I file under “grail standing” either due to their rarity or being at a cost point that needs some cautious and disciplined saving over a span of years to obtain. If you’re not terribly familiar with A. Lange & Söhne, it is because they do not advertise just like the “big boys”, they only produce around 5,500 pieces per year, nor are they a Swiss maker. So unless you’ve begun your descent to the horological rabbit hole — no more turning back, incidentally — odds are it’s a name you’ve not heard. If that’s the case, consider this your debut.
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” will be produced in extremely small numbers and will only be available in precious metals – yellow gold, white gold, and pink gold – as is the case for most A. Lange & Söhne watches. The watch measures 40.5mm wide by 10.7mm tall with a dial in silver, regardless of the case material, and the lance-style hands are made out of heat-blued steel. The dial is clean and simple in keeping with the 1815 collection. The center hour and minute hands tell the time, while a subsidiary dial at 6 o’clock shows the running seconds. What is unusual, however, is that the watch has another central seconds hand. This is a jumping seconds hand.
The jumping seconds hand can be activated or deactivated using the pusher at 2 o’clock, which allows it to be used to time short events down to the nearest second. Now, the jumping seconds might sound like an unusual complication to have, but it has significance for the Lange family as it was conceived by Ferdinand Adolph Lange (Walter Lange’s great-grandfather) back in 1867.
The execution of the jumping seconds hand in the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” watch uses the flirt-and-star principle, which is faithful to the mechanism first designed by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in 1867. A star wheel with six tips liberates a tensioned lever arm once every second in a move that is called the “flirt.” The arm spins 360 degrees before it is stopped by the next tip of the star. In doing so, the seconds hand advances by precisely one marker – meaning you can use it almost like a chronograph for measuring within a minute.
The movement within is the in-house made Caliber L1924, which can be admired through the sapphire display caseback. It is dubbed Caliber L1924 in honor of Walter Lange’s birth year. It is a manually wound movement made up of 253 components, beats at 3Hz, and has a power reserve of 60 hours – presumably, when both seconds hands are left running continuously. Curiously, A. Lange & Söhne did not provide us with a picture of the movement, but we are told that it features plates and bridges made out of untreated German silver and it is immaculately decorated by hand. Additionally, like all other A. Lange & Söhne pieces, it has an intricately hand-engraved balance cock. I guess we’ll just have to wait till SIHH when we can see the movement in person, as well as to answer certain questions such as exactly how the hands might be realigned after having stopped the jumping seconds hand.
In many respects, the Lange 1 represents for me personally, the heart and soul of what A. Lange & Söhne is all about — beautiful craftsmanship and magnificent, if not disruptive, design.One look at the Lange 1’s dial and you may see exactly what I mean by disruptive. This is not your normal dial. The hour and moment indices, rather than taking up the whole watch face, occupy a huge display on the left-hand side of the dial with Roman numeral hour markers at five, six, nine and 12. Between four and five o’clock, you get a tiny seconds enroll, which impinges on the hour and minutes enroll ever so slightly. Directly above that’s the power reserve indicator, which, of course, is an extremely helpful tool when you’re dealing with a manually wound movement. (N.B. Fully wound, the Lange 1 will run for 72 hours) Ultimately, over the power reserve indicator and to the right of this hour and minutes screen, you’ve got a Lange signature — the Lange big date display. What makes it unique, despite the apparent? Unlike a lot of date windows, this one is not set via the crown. On the contrary, it’s controlled by a pusher at 10 o’clock on the side of the circumstance. The joy of this attribute is hard to put into words. Never has it been easier or, I would add, more fun to advance the date on a watch.Now, if a person were to explain the dial of the Lange 1 to you personally without the assistance of a photograph, you may think to yourself, “Wow, that sounds like a weird, jumbled mess.” But in practice, that asymmetry makes for something amazingly harmonious, ridiculously remarkable and stunningly unique.
The 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” has the reference number 297, which is actually a reference to Walter Lange’s birth date – July 29th. The watch is limited to 27 pieces in yellow gold, 145 pieces in white gold, and 90 pieces in pink gold. The unusual numbers pay homage to various milestones in the Lange family. Walter Lange registered Lange Uhren GmbH on December 7th, 1990, which is exactly 145 years from the day Ferdinand Adolph Lange founded the company. Also, 27 is a reference to the 27 years that have passed between December 7th, 1990 and December 7th, 2017.
Last but not least, I said that the watches were only available in precious metals, but A. Lange & Söhne are also creating a unique piece in stainless steel that they plan to auction for charity. Apart from the stainless steel case, this unique piece also stands out for its black enamel dial and polished stainless steel hands. The watch will be auctioned off at some time in 2018, and all proceeds will go to charity. The other A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” watches are all priced at €47,000 regardless of the case material. alange-soehne.com
Let’s talk briefly about case dimensions, which at 38.5mm, can be somewhat irregular. As someone who’d have a 36mm case any day of the week and finds out 40mm to be about my personal upper selection, a 38.5mm situation is perfect.You know how electronics companies will also be updating their apparatus and software and with each update you think, “It’s so great, why did not they do that in the first location?” That is kind of the way I really feel about a 38.5millimeter case. There are lots of 36mm and 40mm instances, but you don’t see many in this size. Another among those Lange 1’s exceptional charms.A few millimeters difference might seem like splitting hairs, but I guarantee you that it makes a big difference. 36mm can be little to some and anything bigger than 40mm, tripping. 38.5mm occupies which in-between distance which will look great on any wrist, although the bigger ones (raises hand).Of program, even mechanical watch novices understand that aesthetics and design are only a little part of what creates a watch something particular — like individuals, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. It just so happens that Lange 1 is a really, really good looking man who also has an amazing character. Rather than get super specialized here together with the ins and outs of the Lange 1’s motion — that has already been done beyond exceptionally by our friends at HODINKEE — let’s just say that aside from A. Lange & Söhne’s magnificent designs, their moves are universally regarded as perfection. Add to that some intricate detailing — though admittedly not nearly as intricate as the Datograph’s case back — and you have got a severe one-two horological punch.