A.Lange & Söhne – A legend is reborn6:52 am
“There’s something one should expect not only of a watch, but also of oneself To never stand still”
A renowned watch company, dusted by the wrath of the Second World War, A.Lange & Söhne has seen time and history, but against all odds has managed to retain its heritage of being a world leader in mechanical watches. Many thought their journey was all but over and the name of A. Lange & Söhne was almost forgotten, but fate had other things in mind. Ferdinand A. Lange’s great-grandson Walter Lange had the courage to re-launch the brand and in 1990, after the reunification of Germany, together with his business partner and friend, Günter Blümlein (the then managing director of IWC and Jaeger Le-Coultre) he successfully managed to once again bring life to his great-grandfather’s illustrious legacy. And without surprise, they have accomplished a lot in these short 25 years.
Lange and Blümlein shared the goal to put Germany back on the map of the luxury timepiece segment; crafting watches with a distinctive design that were in line with the traditional Lange watches. But their biggest challenge was: what would a modern watch from A. Lange & Söhne look like, if the brand was technically non-existent post the Second World War?
In terms of design the key element of the first Lange was the dial, not just with a patented large date aperture but also with an asymmetrically positioned hour and minute sub-dial with Roman numerals, a power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock and a small second’s sub-dial. In order to maintain an artistic balance, designers insured the indications were not overlapping and positioned them to reflect a watch that worked and looked harmonious. Other details like the sword-shaped hands, the applied hour indexes, the sculpted lugs, and the choice of precious materials for cases and dials contributed to the strong identity of the watch. Almost all of Lange watches bear the signature “Glashütte i/SA” where ‘i/SA’ actually stands for “in Saxony” – the city where the watches are manufactured. But the interesting bit of this design lies in the date indication in almost all Lange watches, which is greatly similar to the Five-Minute Clock of the Semper Opera House in Dresden, a revolutionary clock with digital indication dating back to 1841:
Built on request of the King Frederick Augustus II, the five minute clock was the work of Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes, the royal court’s chief engineer, who was assisted by Ferdinand A. Lange. The design was well acclaimed and its uniqueness continues to inspire the calibre engineers at A. Lange & Söhne to this very day.
The Lange 1, inaugural piece was eventually launched in 1994 and it featured a movement unlike anything the world had seen up to that point. The watch was unanimously acclaimed and in a very short time, watch enthusiasts from around the world were captured by the new symbol of the Saxon watchmaker. Apart from the distinct bold design, it was the mechanics of the watch that earned the most praises.
The platform was set, and with the acclaims doing the rounds around the world, Lange went on to produce one legendary timepiece after another. Including this magnificent timepiece: The Lange 1 Moonphase:
But what makes every Lange timepiece even more spectacular is the other side of the dial. They discontinued solid case backs (easy to understand why with such a beautifully refined movement asking to be shown) and made all their case backs with sapphire crystal. The Lange calibre in all their timepieces is just pure watchmaking artistry, with typical hallmarks such as the three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver, screwed gold chatons and twin mainspring barrels for an enhanced power reserve. Most of their movements feature almost 417 different components! Making the entire package a pure delight for any watch connoisseur.
And that has been the fundamental philosophy of the watch company, they only make a few thousand watches a year, most of their energy goes into refined watchmaking, but many believe they have understood the real luxury business better and more quickly. They’re playing a different game as compared to the other luxury watch firms – and they’re doing it quietly, without a lot of fuss, without flashy limited editions or high profile brand ambassadors. Summarized in a few words, A.Lange & Söhne watches are technically brilliant companions for those who value mechanical excellence more than anything else.
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.