A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater
Angus Davies discusses the A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, recently launched at SIHH 2015. This watch is an exemplar of watchmaking know-how. It has an impressive six patents relating to its movement.
This detailed review of the A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater includes live images, specification details and pricing.
I have always exhibited a weakness for A. Lange & Söhne watches. The styling of the brand’s timepieces blends ease of interpretation and timeless aesthetics with sublimely crafted movements making a persuasive argument for selection.
The German watch company does not discard former designs in the pursuit of innovation and, as a result, enjoys a loyal following. The changes made to existing models are often small. For example, the new Lange 1 for 2015 has received only a minor reworking of the bezel and a modification to the outsize date, which now instantaneously changes at midnight. I doubt existing owners of Lange 1 models will feel the kudos of their watch has been compromised by this prudent approach to new product development.
A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 in platinum (2015 model)
However, there was one particular timepiece released at SIHH 2015 which did offer radical differences to the models that have proceeded it. The new A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater fuses the brand’s ingenious jumping numerals display, seen on other Zeitwerk models, with a decimal minute repeater, representing a first in the field of haute horlogerie.
No slide, a push piece
Normally with a minute repeater, the chiming sequence is actuated by sliding a lever, often on the left flank of the case. Hammers and gongs collaborate to chime the hours, quarters and minutes, in that order. However, the new A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is different.
The chiming sequence, activated by pressing a push piece at 10 o’clock, is ingenious. A hammer, positioned at 8 o’clock, chimes the hours indicated on the time display above. Thereafter, a second hammer at 4 o’clock collaborates with the first, sounding each ten minute integer with a double strike, one to each gong, simultaneously. Finally, the single minutes are indicated by the hammer at 4 o’clock working in isolation.
The charms of this watch are the linear presentation of time from left to right and the accompanying aural indication, available on demand.
A. Lange & Söhne has imbued this timepiece with a colossal amount of watchmaking know-how and the specification details distinguish it as exceptional.
The new calibre L043.5 consists of 771 parts and includes a patented constant-force escapement to ensure consistent power is delivered to change the jumping numerals on the dial.
With some minute repeaters, costly damage has occurred when the crown has been operated during the chiming sequence. The prestigious watch company from Glashütte has given this due consideration, equipping the watch with a safety mechanism which prevents the crown being pulled out whilst the chiming sequence takes place.
When the repeater is operational, the jumping action of the numerals is also delayed, preventing interruption of the repeater sequence.
The striking mechanism will not operate if the power reserve is less than 12 hours. A small red dot on the power reserve indicator advises the wearer the mainspring requires winding and any remaining energy is allocated solely to the indication of time.
The calibre L043.5 features six patented systems, affirming the creativity of the watch brand from Saxony.
Usually, the gongs of a minute repeater are shrouded by the case and hidden from view. However, A. Lange & Söhne has indulged eyes with sight of the hammers striking the exposed gongs.
The two gongs are arranged one on top of the other, following a curving line around the small seconds display, then hugging the underside of the time bridge and ultimately arcing around the edge of the upper dial area.
Interestingly, the watch is supplied in a 44.2mm diameter platinum case. Stainless steel is often said to transmit sound more effectively, however, Anthony de Haas, Technical Director of Lange, assured assembled journalists the sound of the new A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is “excellent”. While I have not heard the watch’s mellifluous charms with my own ears, based on my experience of the company’s watches to date, I see little reason to doubt his word.
The frustrations of watch fanatic
I return to the title of my article, ‘beyond my reach’. Such was the frenetic interest in the A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater at SIHH 2015, that getting close to its gorgeous form was incredibly difficult. I studied the watch in a display cabinet on the company’s stand and marvelled at its handsome lines and expertly crafted movement. However, getting a few snatched moments with this timepiece on my wrist proved impossible.
This frustration is like a symbolic reminder that, sadly, I am unlikely to ever own a Zeitwerk Minute Repeater. While I adore this watch for many reasons, and would even go so far as to say it was one of my favourite watches at SIHH 2015, I have to be reconciled with the fact that with an asking price of €440000, it is, quite simply, beyond my reach.
- Model: A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater
- Ref. 147.025
- Case: Platinum; diameter 44.2 mm; height 14.1 mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Jumping hours and minutes; small seconds; power-reserve indication; decimal minute repeater.
- Movement: Lange manufacture calibre L043.5, hand-wound movement; frequency 18,0000 vph (2.5Hz); 93 jewels; power reserve 36 hours; 771 parts
- Strap: Black hand-stitched alligator leather strap presented on a platinum deployant.