German Excellence – Justin Hast reviews the A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst
This detailed review of the A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst includes live pictures, specification and price.
You will often hear people say that watchmaking is like art for the wrist. To some extent this is true, but it is rare to come across a watch that has been painstakingly crafted like an old master. However, the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst is as close to a da Vinci, Tintoretto or Raphael as it gets in watchmaking terms.
Lange has earned a reputation for its so called Handwerkskunst watches. Once a year the German manufacture gets to really show off its talents in finishing and decoration. The 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst is the sixth edition in this Handwerkskunst tradition and is another fine example of what technical excellence and patience can yield.
With a blue soul, the dial is deep, sumptuous and complex. The argenté-coloured white gold subdials at 12, 3, 6 and 9 really stand out from the blue starred background. The dial is framed by an argenté-coloured flange ring with a traditional railway-track minute scale. This is the first Lange model to combine enamel and engraving on one dial. Each of the four subdials showcase two complications. The month and leap year at 3 o’clock, the moon phase and sub seconds at 6 o’clock, the date and day of the week at 9 o’clock and, finally, a 30-minute chronograph counter and power reserve at 12 o’clock.
Like everything from Lange, it’s all in the detail. For instance, the Arabic numerals are completely flush with the enamel blue centre. A small touch, but deeply pleasing to an OCD watch geek like myself. The rhodiumed white-gold hands show the time, calendar indications and power-reserve. The blue enamel on the dial and the lunar disc at 6 o’clock share the same tone as the blued-steel minute counter hand.
A watch of this complexity is often a large beast and something many wouldn’t feel physically comfortable wearing. However, the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst is only 41.9mm wide. This reference is about a millimetre thicker than the 2013 model at 15.8mm owing to the addition of a hunter style caseback.
The hinged caseback showcases the engraving of the Roman goddess Luna. The medallion shows her with her characteristic attributes: a billowing veil, a crescent moon diadem and a torch with which she lights up the darkness. As the engraving is all done by hand, it will differ slightly on each watch, making each timepiece unique.
Staring lovingly at the movement of the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar is an enchanting experience. Indeed, there are few movements with such depth and intricate details.
Based on the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar released in 2013, it features a perpetual calendar, rattrapante chronograph, moon phase and power reserve indicator. The split-seconds chronograph allows the measurement of lap times and consecutive times. It is controlled by two column wheels – one for the chronograph and one for the readily visible rattrapante mechanism which is activated by a pusher at 10 o’clock.
The perpetual calendar mechanism correctly displays the individual duration of each month in the course of a calendar year, including all leap years until 2100. Integrated in the subsidiary seconds dial at 6 o’clock, the moon-phase display is calibrated to remain accurate for 122.6 years. The manually wound movement has a maximum power reserve of 42 hours.
This is a wonderful watch in every way. Would it be something I would wear on a daily basis? Absolutely not. Indeed, this is a timepiece which should be cherished, quietly savoured and treated with due reverence. Could this be something that comes out for a best friend’s wedding? Undoubtedly.
I suspect all twenty 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst timepieces have now found new homes, but on the off-chance one is still available, and if you’re in the market for something to impress the cognoscenti, then this could be the perfect horological masterpiece for you.
Lange manufacture calibre L101.1, manually wound, crafted to the most exacting Lange quality standards, decorated and assembled by hand; precision-adjusted in five positions; plates and bridges made of untreated German silver; train bridge with granular surface; operating-lever, cover and chronograph bridges as well as rattrapante and balance cocks engraved by hand with tremblage technique
Movement parts: 631
Screwed gold chatons: 4
Escapement: Lever escapement
Shock-resistant screw balance, balance spring manufactured in-house with a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour; precision beat-adjustment system with lateral setscrew and whiplash spring
Power reserve: 42 hours when fully wound
Functions: Time indicated in hours, minutes and subsidiary seconds; split- seconds chronograph with minute counter; perpetual calendar with date, day of week, month, moon phase and leap year; power- reserve indicator
Operating elements: Crown for winding the watch and setting the time; two chronograph buttons, one button to operate the rattrapante mechanism; separate correctors for adjusting the date, day, month and moon phase
Movement dimensions: Diameter: 32.6 millimetres; height: 9.1 millimetres
Case: White gold; hinged cuvette in blue enamelled white gold with relief and tremblage engraving
Case dimensions: Diameter: 41.9 millimetres; height: 15.8 millimetres
Glass and caseback: Sapphire crystal (Mohs hardness 9)
Dial: Six-part, blue enamelled white gold with relief engraving; argente?- coloured flange ring with railway-track minute scale
Strap: Hand-stitched alligator leather, blue-grey with grey seam
Buckle: Lange deployant buckle in white gold
Limited edition: 20 watches
Price: €290,000 (RRP as at 9.10.2017)
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.