Up Close: A.Lange & Sohne 1815 Up/Down2:12 pm
A.Lange & Sohne is right up there as one of the few passionate, luxury watch makers existing today, who have mastered the art of producing exceptional classic watches for centuries. They’re considered among the most exclusive high-end brands in the world, given they produce only 5,000 or less watches a year and are home to the most gorgeous movements around (turn over one of their watches, and you’ll see what the fuss is all about). Of course, watches from the Glashutte manufacture are considered hardly “approachable” by most; if you are a serious watch collector, you’ll know why. Before we go in depth on one of their most accessible (dare we say entry-level) watch released last year – the 1815 Up/Down, let’s have a brief explanation by Anthony de Hass, from Lange about the newest version of the classic power reserve watch:
The art of timekeeping, re-created:
Somehow, self-winding mechanical watches don’t get a lot of respect they deserve among watch lovers. I’m going to draw a fine line between lovers and connoisseurs here, because the latter are perhaps the only ones who probably realize the joy and importance of manual-winding mechanical complications in the all – digital, millennial world.
Back in the day, winding your mechanical watch was an exercise, a discipline that was followed once in a couple of days or maybe a week, because if you forgot to wind your watch, it could have cost you your job, made you miss your train or got you late for a date. Today, the consequences may not be as dire, and although, you might not find it ‘as cool’ as an automatic chronograph or as beautiful as a moon-phase, ask your grandparents what a joy it was to use one. Self-winding watches generally came with a power reserve indicator, which is still a nice ‘old-school’ way to know when the tank’s getting low. In the case of the 1815, full is denoted by an “Auf” and “AB” means it’s time to wind your timepiece.
Having mentioned that, this watch has a more than healthy power reserve of over 72 hours – when fully wound. Also, because this is Lange, who have an obsessive attention to detail, the movement features a stop mechanism, which means that when the watch does eventually run ‘out of gas’ i.e., when the mainspring runs down all of the 72 hours of stored energy, the seconds counter stops precisely at zero.
A tribute to the pocket watches of the 18th century:
The 1815 Up/Down is not the first version of this watch, the first one was produced back in 1995 – as a homage to the classical pocket watch. For those of you who are still wondering the significance of the “1815”, it was the year Ferdinand A. Lange (the founder) was born. This past reference used by the brand is relevant in a way, as the watch incorporates the traditional aspects of the brand’s own pocket watches, produced by none other than Ferdinand A.Lange himself. Yes, back in the years Lange were the masters of pocket watches, and perhaps the only ones back in 1870 who offered one with power-reserve displays.
Whatever the thought behind the inspiration might have been, the 1815 Up/Down is pure Lange from all aspects. The prominent Arabic numerals and railway-track minutes scale, coupled with blued-steel hands that extend into their associated tracks is something we’ve seen from the Glashutte manufacture for years.
There’s a lot going on with the dial of this watch, with a second’s counter at 4 o’clock and a power reserve indicator at 8. The dial is protected by a ‘slightly domed’ sapphire crystal, but behind that, is where the beauty of this watch lies.
Rare, powerful, and a well engineered mechanical movement:
The case back of this watch is nothing less than spectacular. Visible entirely thanks to the see through sapphire crystal protection is the self-winding, Calibre L051.2 – and it’s the movement that makes the watch ‘literally’ unique (and for every other Lange watch out there). A fact which I’m sure you would not have known about, every Lange watch is a unique piece, and it’s true because each timepiece that does come out of the Glashütte manufacture features a minimum of one component which is hand engraved. Apart from the famous three quarter plates, gold chatons, and 245 different parts, Calibre L051.2 also features the individually ‘hand engraved’ balance cock.
The tradition of engraving the balance-cock started way back in the 20th century with Lange’s pocket watches. And when they relaunched in the 90s, continuing with one of their greatest traditions only made sense. Though most of the balance cock engravings have a floral design, but because these are done by six different craftsmen at the manufacture, each one looks different. Also, if you happen to own this watch and pay the Glashütte manufacture a visit, you can also meet the individual who engraved it for you. It’s these very little details that make A.Lange one of the world’s most coveted and exclusive watch manufacturers today.
Quality watchmaking at its pinnacle:
Available in yellow gold, the case of this watch is 39mm, which is, in fact, 3mm larger than the original 1815 Up/Down. With a thickness of just 8.9mm, this watch is slim and sits comfortably on your wrist with a ‘hand sewn’ crocodile strap of the highest quality that is complimented with yellow gold buckles. If you ever wondered what quality watchmaking was, well, this is what it feels like.
This watch is available in India for a limited time at Ethos Watch Boutiques.
- Manufacturer: Lange Uhren GmbH, Altenberger Strasse 12, D-01768, Glashütte, Germany
- Reference number: 234.032
- Functions: Hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds, power reserve display
- Movement: Caliber L051.2, manual wind, 21,600 vph, 29 jewels, Incabloc shock protection, hand-engraved balance cock, 72-hour power reserve
- Case: 39mm yellow gold, sapphire crystal protection, exhibition case back with sapphire window, water resistant to 30 meters
- Strap and clasp: Hand-sewn crocodile strap, yellow gold prong buckle
DID YOU KNOW? A. Lange & Sohne were wiped out during the Second World War? But the watchmaker rose from the ashes to become a leader in mechanical watchmaking. To read the story about the rise of Lange, click here.
Have something to add to this story? feel free to do so in the comments section below!
Features Writer, The Watch Guide
Rahul is a watch and sports lover currently living in New Delhi. Having worked as a journalist and a copywriter previously, he is now thrilled to be a part of a team that loves, lives and breathes wristwatches. After joining Ethos and The Watch Guide team, his interest for the world of horology grew and is now completely and hopelessly hooked on watches.
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