A. Lange & Söhne 175th Anniversary – “Homage to F. A. Lange”
The A. Lange & Söhne 175th Anniversary – “Homage to F. A. Lange” consists of three models, all belonging to the 1815 family and each housed in a honey gold case. The special edition “Homage to F. A. Lange” watches range from the comparatively simple 1815 THIN HONEYGOLD to the extraordinary TOURBOGRAPH PERPETUAL HONEYGOLD “Homage to F. A. Lange”.
In 1845, Ferdinand A. Lange left his native Dresden and moved to Glashütte, a former mining town located in a valley at the foothills of the Ore Mountains. At the time, the area was suffering economic hardship. The state chose to attract entrepreneurs to the region, offering financial aid for those companies which could provide employment. Lange hired 15 apprentices and trained them to become watchmakers. Ferdinand A. Lange recognised the benefits of specialisation, or ‘the division of labour’ with each employee becoming an expert in their own field, e.g making pinions, wheels or hands.
Ultimately, Glashütte attracted others to establish their own watchmaking facilities in the area. Today, there are numerous watch brands based in the town of Glashütte, however, everything started with Lange.
This year, Glashütte is celebrating 175 years of watchmaking with several brands unveiling their own anniversary-themed models. Unsurprisingly, A. Lange & Söhne, a brand with much historical legitimacy, has released a triumvirate of special models, the “Homage to F. A. Lange”.
Each creation is housed in the firm’s proprietary honey gold. This is 18-carat gold which has been subject to heat-treatment and includes ‘special admixtures’, making the precious metal harder and less prone to scratching.
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 THIN HONEYGOLD is a hand-wound watch with a stepped dial dressed in white enamel. The movement, the Calibre L093.1, is hand-wound and eschews the brand’s beloved Glashütte ribbing in favour of a frosted three-quarter plate, a finish typically seen on 19th-century pocket watches. Thermally blued screws, gold chatons and an engraved balance cock uphold the brand’s reputation for peerless finissage.
Each new model delivers something new. The 1815 RATTRAPANTE HONEYGOLD “Homage to F. A. Lange” pairs a honey gold case with a black dial, a combination never seen before. The hand-wound movement, the Calibre L101.2, features two column wheels positioned atop the three-quarter plate. The movement is comprised of 365 components and its complexity cannot be overstated. There is an infinitesimal gap between the chronograph hand and the split seconds hand in order to avoid any unwanted parallax. When in use, the split seconds hand is near-invisible, hidden by the chronograph hand above.
The pièce de résistance is the TOURBOGRAPH PERPETUAL HONEYGOLD “Homage to F. A. Lange”. In this instance, a 43mm honey gold case houses an 18-carat honey gold, black-rhodiumed dial. The various scales and numerals are relief engraved. The hand-wound Calibre L133.1 is a horological tour de force. It features a fusée and chain transmission, ensuring the escapement receives a constant supply of force, maintaining the amplitude of the balance and, thereby, augmenting precision.
Other complications include a tourbillon, a chronograph with a rattrapante function and a perpetual calendar with moon-phase display. Supremely refined and technically incredible, the TOURBOGRAPH PERPETUAL HONEYGOLD is elegant and understated, traits synonymous with timepieces from Saxony.
The brand’s press releases (September 2020)
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 THIN HONEYGOLD
The seventh of December 1845 marks a turning point in the history of the town of Glashütte. The inauguration of the first pocket watch workshop in the former mining community south of Dresden by Ferdinand Adolph Lange, then 30 years old, laid the cornerstone for Saxon precision watchmaking. To commemorate the anniversary, A. Lange & Söhne is now presenting three limited-edition timepieces that share the epithet “Homage to F. A. Lange” – the 1815 RATTRAPANTE HONEYGOLD, the TOURBOGRAPH PERPETUAL HONEYGOLD and the 1815 THIN HONEYGOLD. All three models belong to the 1815 watch family that refers to Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s birth year with its name.
With its numerous traditional hallmarks, the 1815 THIN HONEYGOLD “Homage to F. A. Lange” is also reminiscent of his legendary pocket watches. At the same time, it unites two features that also characterise Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s designs and developments: perfection and clarity.
An elegantly simple design
The case is merely 6.3 millimetres high and has a diameter of 38 millimetres. Just like the hands and the buckle, it consists of honey gold, an alloy developed exclusively for and used only by A. Lange & Söhne. Thanks to special admixtures and special thermal treatment, the metal is harder and thus more scratch-resistant than other gold alloys with a fineness of 18 carats. It was used for the first time in 2010 for the three watches of the “165 Years – Homage to F. A. Lange” anniversary edition. So far, only eight limited editions of watches cased in this exceptional gold alloy with its warm glow have been launched.
The brilliant white, two-part enamel dial stands out prominently in this exclusive framework. The dark-grey printed Arabic numerals and the classic railway-track minute scale contrast well against the bright background.
A sublime creation
Simple and perfect: The L093.1 manufacture calibre of the 1815 THIN HONEYGOLD “Homage to F. A. Lange” is a modern interpretation of Lange’s product philosophy. With a power reserve of 72 hours, the 2.9-millimetre-high manually wound movement proves that compact dimensions and performance are not mutually exclusive. The freely oscillating Lange balance spring has a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour. In combination with a classic screw balance, it assures optimised rate accuracy.
In all of its artisanal facets, the manually assembled 167-part movement pays tribute to the style introduced by Ferdinand Adolph Lange. Contrary to the Glashütte ribbing commonly used in other Lange models, the German-silver three-quarter plate has a granular surface texture often found in historic Lange pocket watches. The crown and ratchet wheels are visibly integrated in the train bridge and decorated with perfectly executed circular graining. Gold chatons secured by three thermally blued screws trace the path of the power transmitted from the mainspring barrel to the escapement. The invisible quality hallmarks include the two-fold assembly of the movement which guarantees technical and visual perfection.
The freehand engraving on the balance cock is the signature element of all Lange manufacture calibres. The fine lines of the floral pattern are black-rhodiumed, just like the inscription on the plate. The dark hue of the galvanic coating echoes the grey of the dial imprints and at the same time amplifies the three-dimensional effect of the engravings.
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 RATTRAPANTE HONEYGOLD “Homage to F. A. Lange”
Unique colour combination
The honey-gold case of the 1815 RATTRAPANTE HONEYGOLD “Homage to F. A. Lange” has a diameter of 41.2 millimetres. The rare case material developed explicitly for A. Lange & Söhne is characterised by exceptional hardness and a warm sheen. For the first time, it has now been combined with a black dial in solid silver that highlights its modern, captivating looks.
A. Lange & Söhne’s sixth split-seconds chronograph stands out with another premiere: for the first time, the complication is in the spotlight. The complex mechanism ranks among the most elaborate devices in precision watchmaking. The superposed chronograph and rattrapante sweep-seconds hands make it possible during a running time measurement to ascertain any number of lap times within the course of a minute. The chronograph sweep-seconds hand, the lower hand, consists of pink-gold-plated steel. It entrains the superposed rattrapante – also called split-seconds – hand made of rhodiumed steel. Both hands start together when the pusher at two o’clock is actuated. The rattrapante sweep-seconds hand can be stopped independently of the chronograph sweep-seconds hand and then resynchronised with it. The French word “rattrapante” describes this sequence. The verb “rattraper” means “to catch up again”. This function is controlled with the pusher at ten o’clock. If it is actuated during an ongoing measurement, the rattrapante sweep-seconds hand stops and displays the lap time while the chronograph sweep-seconds hand keeps running. A second actuation of the pusher causes the rattrapante sweep-seconds hand to catch up and then synchronise with the chronograph sweep-seconds hand. This lap-time measurement procedure can be repeated as many times as needed.
A new manufacture calibre
The complex chronograph/rattrapante mechanism is located on the movement side of the new L101.2 manually wound calibre. The control of elapsed or lap-time measurements is handled highly precisely in the classic manner with two column wheels. Like the rattrapante clamp that blocks the rattrapante hand in the lap-time display mode, it is visible through the sapphire- crystal caseback. This allows the precise switching processes to be observed in detail. When fully wound, the mainspring barrel delivers a power reserve of 58 hours. In connection with the screw balance, also manufactured in-house, the freely oscillating Lange balance spring guarantees excellent rate accuracy at a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour (3 hertz).
The artisanal finish of the manually assembled 365-part movement is inspired by the benchmarks developed by Ferdinand Adolph Lange to make his calibres inimitable. The raised Ger- man-silver frame parts are endowed with granular surfaces that are reminiscent of his historic pocket watches in the 1A quality category. Among other features, they had gold poising screws, screwed gold chatons to secure the bearing jewels and a hand-engraved balance cock. Today, these traditional quality hallmarks can again be found in many A. Lange & Söhne timepieces.
All upper sides of the moving parts of the rattrapante chronograph, such as levers, springs, and jumpers, are decorated with straight graining while the chamfers are polished. Chamfer polish- ing acute interior angles a particular challenge. They are elements that reflect the immense manual work involved in such movements. The required degree of perfection is achievable only by experienced finishers with sharp special tools. Great caution is needed during the assembly of the granular frame parts since the sensitive surfaces do not tolerate even the most minute scratches.
All of the fine lines of the free-hand engravings on the balance cock and the chronograph bridge as well as the inscriptions on the bridges are black-rhodiumed. The dark hue of the galvanically applied coating adds plasticity to the engravings. The contemporary evolution of traditional finis- sage techniques reflects the manufactory’s ambition to never standstill.
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 TOURBOGRAPH PERPETUAL HONEYGOLD “Homage to F. A. Lange”
Sublime relief in honey gold
With the dial of the TOURBOGRAPH PERPETUAL HONEYGOLD “Homage to F. A. Lange”, A. Lange & Söhne has taken a totally new approach. It is black-rhodiumed and, like the 43- millimetre case, consists of solid, 18-carat honey gold. The raised numerals and scales as well as the logo contrast vividly against the dark background. They are not applied and instead are raised from the material by about 0.15 millimetres. In combination with the relief, this creates an incomparable three-dimensional effect.
The hands of the time and calendar displays as well as the black-rhodiumed lunar disc are made of the same gold alloy. Its two glistening, slightly cambered moons are framed by hand- engraved stars. The dial and the lunar discs are crafted in-house to assure the perfect implementation of the innovative design idea.
With calibre L133.1, the TOURBOGRAPH PERPETUAL HONEYGOLD “Homage to F. A. Lange” is endowed with a movement of peerless complexity; it consists of 684 parts. It fully complies with the rules of classic precision watchmaking with design details such as column-wheel control for the rattrapante chronograph, the screw balance, and its artisanal finissage. It would be legitimate to call this watch a grand complication. However, a masterpiece with this name already exists at A. Lange & Söhne: the GRAND COMPLICATION with a total of seven horological complications. It was released in 2013 and crafted only six times.
A quintet of complications
When it was introduced in 2017, the TOURBOGRAPH PERPETUAL “Pour le Mérite” was among the highlights at the SIHH salon in Geneva. The combination of five complications in this arrangement is unique. As long ago as 2005, A. Lange & Söhne had already created a watch with a fusée-and-chain transmission, a tourbillon, and a rattrapante chronograph: the TOURBOGRAPH “Pour le Mérite”. But the addition of a perpetual calendar required more than 200 extra parts, dramatically changing the power flows in the movement and requiring a new design concept.
With analogue displays, the perpetual calendar indicates all month durations correctly until 2100. After a one-time correction, the calendar is then properly calibrated for the next century. It has three subsidiary dials. The date at twelve o’clock and the day at nine o’clock are indicated with honey-gold hands. The month and leap year are both displayed at three o’clock. The upper half of the analogue date accommodates the moon-phase display which is calculated at an accuracy of 122.6 years.
The connection between the perpetual calendar and the rattrapante chronograph posed a special challenge for the engineers. This is because when both the chronograph function is used and the calendar displays switch, mechanical conflicts must be avoided alongside amplitude fluctuations that could have a negative impact on rate stability. Here, A. Lange & Söhne was able to benefit from its many years of experience in the development of highly complex chronographs. The top-mounted rattrapante (or split-seconds) hand in blued steel can be stopped independently of the gold-plated chronograph hand and also resynchronised with it via the pusher at ten o’clock. This allows any number of lap times to be stopped during a running time measurement. The mechanical switching processes are controlled with two column wheels and can be observed in real time through the sapphire-crystal caseback. The 30-minute-counter at nine o’clock completes the repertoire of chronograph displays.
With their carefully orchestrated interaction, the tourbillon and the fusée-and-chain transmission minimise two unavoidable physical phenomena that are common in all mechanical watches: gravity and the waning force of the mainspring. In 1994, A. Lange & Söhne succeeded for the first time in integrating a fusée-and-chain transmission in the compact dimensions of a wristwatch. Via a fusée connected to the spring barrel with a chain, the power of the mainspring is delivered to the movement with constant force thanks to the ingenious way in which the principle of levers is harnessed. A planetary gearing mechanism inside the fusée assures that the flow of power from the mainspring barrel to the escapement is not interrupted while the watch is being wound.
A special finish
The special finissage of the calibre L133.1 was produced with a great artisanal effort and distinguishes itself from the first generation in essential details. The surfaces of the German-silver bridges and cocks are granularly textured and endowed with black-rhodiumed inscriptions. The filigreed lines of the manually engraved chronograph bridge are black-rhodiumed as well. This increases the three-dimensional effect of the pattern as well as the modernity of the traditional technique.
The artisanal decoration also includes the straight graining on the chain. The black polish on several areas of the curved tourbillon bridge challenges the skills of the finissage experts to the utmost. The tourbillon cage is suspended between two diamond endstones as was the case in Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s historic pocket watches of the then highest quality level, the 1A category. Other technical details of that category included a balance wheel with gold poising screws and screwed gold chatons to secure the bearing jewels. To top it off, a diamond endstone was integrated in the hand-engraved balance cock. When reincorporating the company, Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein adopted numerous 1A quality criteria in the new product philosophy to build a bridge between tradition and modernity.