A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Homage to Walter Lange
At SIHH 2018, Angus Davies seized the opportunity to handle the new A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Homage to Walter Lange.
This detailed review of the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Homage to Walter Lange includes live images & specification.
As years advance, an individual often contemplates what their legacy will be. The culmination of years of effort can sometimes result in very little. However, for some individuals a lifetime can be punctuated with achievements, leaving an outstanding legacy for future generations to admire.
Walter Lange’s many achievements distinguished him as special. The great-grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, Walter Lange was responsible for rekindling the family’s watchmaking business in 1990. In the years that followed, his eponymous brand gained popularity with legions of admirers appreciating the brand’s finely executed movements and highly legible dials. Today, the German brand is revered and held in high esteem by ‘those in the know’.
Sadly, in January 2017, Walter Lange passed away. At SIHH 2018, A. Lange & Söhne released a new version of its 1815 model, equipped with a stoppable jumping seconds, paying tribute to this remarkable individual.
Apparently, it had always been a dream of Walter Lange that the German brand unveil a timepiece equipped with a stoppable jumping seconds. Walter Lange’s great-grandfather, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, invented the jumping seconds hand with the start/stop function. His son, Emil Lange, realised the invention, housing the movement in a beautifully crafted ‘masterpiece’. In 1877, one of Germany’s first patents was granted to A. Lange & Söhne for its ‘one second movement with a jumping hand’.
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Homage to Walter Lange is instantly recognisable as an 1815 model. Consistent with its siblings, blued lancine hands proclaim the hours and minutes. Each hour is denoted with Arabic numerals and a railway-track occupies the periphery of the dial.
A solid silver, argenté coloured dial provides a beautiful backdrop for the blued hands which deliver peerless legibility.
Unusually, the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Homage to Walter Lange features two second hands. Firstly, a small seconds display is positioned above 6 o’clock. This snailed circlet is framed with a chemin de fer, delineating the subdial from the main dial epidermis. The seconds hand advances six times per second, a rate dictated by the frequency of the movement (3Hz).
Additionally, a larger, central blued second hand spans the radius of the dial. This hand, featuring a square-shaped counterweight, advances once per second, jumping from one marker to the next. This jumping gait is sometimes referred to as a ‘dead-beat seconds’ and proves especially helpful when reading off seconds.
This timepiece is equipped with a start/stop function, operated with a push-piece at 2 o’clock. By equipping the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Homage to Walter Lange with this facility the wearer can measure elapsed seconds, a function which is especially useful when measuring a person’s heart rate.
The central area of the dial sits on a lower plane, deftly playing with depths and heightening the allure of the display.
With a case diameter of 40.5mm, the new A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Homage to Walter Lange is offered in four variants: 145 watches in white gold, 90 in pink gold, 27 in yellow gold and one version in stainless steel which will be auctioned for charitable purposes.
The numbers of each variant may seem strange, however, the brand kindly provides an explanation:
‘These uncommon numbers are derived from important milestones of the Lange family’s history. From 7 December 1845, when Ferdinand Adolph Lange originally established the company, exactly 145 years elapsed until 7 December 1990, the date on which Walter Lange registered Lange Uhren GmbH. Precisely 27 years will have passed between this date and 7 December 2017, the day on which the new model pays tribute to Walter Lange is unveiled.’
Looking at the case directly from the front, one is struck by the highly polished gold surfaces. Despite the overt nature of highly polished metal, the case assumes a modest persona owing to its restrained dimensions and understated dial design. On the case-band a slither of satin finished gold is, once again, framed with highly polished gold. This blend of surface treatments proves particularly attractive and provides further indication of the exacting execution of this timepiece.
The fluted crown is adorned with the brand’s nomen on its vertical flank. The push-piece at 2 o’clock is rectangular, providing an interesting juxtaposition with the numerous curving lines employed.
A key attribute of A. Lange & Söhne watches is the standard of its exalted movements. It is therefore fitting that the German watch company has equipped the 1815 ‘Homage to Walter Lange’ with an exhibition case-back, affording spectacular views of its horological magnificence.
The moniker of the hand-wound calibre L1924 is a further respectful gesture to Herr Lange, making reference to his year of birth.
Typical of Lange, the balance cock is hand engraved, sitting adjacent a screwed-balance and a sea of perlage. The movement is presented in untreated German silver and the three-quarter plate is adorned with Glashütte ribbing. Chamfered edges, three gold chatons and thermally blued screws stand testament to the movement’s no-compromise creation.
The calibre L1924 does have some unusual elements to its composition which relate to the stoppable jumping seconds hand. The brand explains the ‘seconds jump is controlled according to the “flirt-and-star” principle’, a detail it shares with the historic mechanism.
‘After each full second, one of the six tips of the star liberates the tensioned lever arm, which manufacturers refer to as the “flirt”. It then swiftly rotates by 360 degrees before it is stopped by the next tip. This motion sequence causes the seconds hand to advance by one marker. The ratchet wheel located above the three-quarter plate has a dual function: It stores the power needed for the seconds jump, and at the same time causes the sweep seconds hand to stop.’
The frequency of the balance is 21,600 VpH (3Hz) and the movement contains 36 jewels. The power reserve of the calibre L1924 is 60 hours.
I am always impressed with Lange’s unrelenting progress. Every year the high-end watch company from Glashütte releases new models, often equipped with fascinating complications. This year has proved to be no exception with the advent of the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Homage to Walter Lange. In the competitive arena of watchmaking, the stoppable jumping seconds hand stands out as something quite unique.
The dial of the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Homage to Walter Lange is an exemplar of readability and the motion of the jumping seconds hand is wonderful to observe.
The dimensions of this watch are suitable for a myriad of differently sized wearers. Furthermore, the scale of the 40.5mm diameter case should proffer lasting appeal, cleverly sidestepping the changing tastes of passing fashions.
A. Lange & Söhne has produced another exquisite movement. It is imbued with flawless finishing and upholds this brand’s reputation for crafting some of the world’s finest watches. The 1815 ‘Homage to Walter Lange’ proves a worthy tribute to a remarkable man and finally realises his long-held dream.
- Model: A. Lange & Söhne 1815 ‘Homage to Walter Lange’
- Case: White gold, red gold, yellow gold or steel (see text); diameter 40.5mm; height 10.7mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; stoppable jumping seconds
- Movement: Calibre L1924; hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 36 jewels; power reserve 60 hours
- Strap: Hand-stitched alligator leather with pin buckle