AN UN­TIR­ING QUEST FOR THE PER­FECT WATCH

A. Lange & Söhne cel­e­brates the 200th birth­day of Fer­di­nand Adolph Lange

Plaza Watch International - - From Italy with Love - B y W i l h e l m S c h m i d , CE O L a n g e U h r e n G m bH

This year we are cel­e­brat­ing the 200th birth­day of Fer­di­nand Adolph Lange, the man who put Sax­ony on the map of the in­ter­na­tional watch world. With the es­tab­lish­ment of his man­u­fac­tory in 1845, he laid the foun­da­tion for Sax­ony’s pre­ci­sion watch­mak­ing in­dus­try and made the name A. Lange & Söhne syn­ony­mous with un­matched crafts­man­ship, pre­ci­sion and in­ge­nu­ity. His vi­sion to build the world’s best watches still sets the stan­dard for the watch­mak­ers at A. Lange & Söhne.

His ca­reer as a watch­maker started in 1830 when Jo­hann Friedrich Gutkaes, one of the most em­i­nent clock­mak­ers of his time, ac­cepted Fer­di­nand Adolph Lange at the age of 15 as an ap­pren­tice in view of his ex­cep­tional tal­ent. After hav­ing suc­cess­fully com­pleted his ap­pren­tice­ship he trav­elled through Switzer­land and France. In Paris he worked for four years as the work­shop fore­man of Joseph Thad­däus Win­nerl, another noted watch­maker of that epoch. He painstak­ingly recorded his ob­ser­va­tions and ideas in a jour­nal – and work­book. As a com­pen­dium full of horo­log­i­cal in­sights and ideas it is, to this very day, the spir­i­tual foun­da­tion on which ev­ery A. Lange & Söhne time­piece is built.

On De­cem­ber 7th, 1845, Fer­di­nand Adolph Lange trans­formed his life’s dream of mak­ing the world’s best watches in his own man­u­fac­tory into a re­al­ity by es­tab­lish­ing a pro­duc­tion work­shop for pocket watches in the se­cluded town of Glashütte. By choos­ing this re­mote lo­ca­tion he wanted to of­fer a new per­spec­tive to the peo­ple of the re­gion who had been de­prived of their liveli­hood when ore min­ing was discontinued. He hired 15 ap­pren­tices and trained them to be­come watch­mak­ers. In the years to come, he tire­lessly evolved the craft of watch­mak­ing with his in­sights. He in­tro­duced the metric sys­tem to watch­mak­ing and de­vel­oped the three­quar­ter plate for im­proved sta­bil­ity of the move­ment – an in­ven­tion that still char­ac­terises the de­sign of our mod­ern time­pieces.

In 1868, Fer­di­nand Adolph Lange’s el­dest son Richard be­came co-pro­pri­etor of his fa­ther’s business. From now on the company op­er­ated un­der the name “A. Lange & Söhne” (A. Lange & Sons). A few years later, his younger son Emil also joined the company. When Fer­di­nand Adolph Lange died in 1875, he be­queathed ground­break­ing ac­com­plish­ments and leg­endary time­pieces to the world of pre­ci­sion watch­mak­ing – and a flour­ish­ing business to his sons. Within a few years time they took the company to new lev­els. The lux­ury watches from Sax­ony were ex­ported through­out the world and A. Lange & Söhne won world­wide fame. Equally im­pres­sive as the num­ber of avail­able com­pli­ca­tions was the list of il­lus­tri­ous cus­tomers. Among them were Ger­man Em­peror Wil­liam II and King Lud­wig II of Bavaria. The company’s pocket watches were renowned and cov­eted not only be­cause of their many use­ful in­no­va­tions, but even more so be­cause of their ex­tra­or­di­nary ac­cu­racy.

This suc­cess story was abruptly ended after World War II. In 1948, the man­u­fac­tory was na­tion­alised by the com­mu­nist regime that un­til 1989 gov­erned the east­ern part of a di­vided Ger­many. It was not un­til forty years later, that the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Ger­many opened the door for new begin­nings. On De­cem­ber 7th, 1990, Wal­ter Lange, the great-grand­son of Fer­di­nand Adolph Lange, founded the Lange man­u­fac­tory anew, and regis­tered the A. Lange & Söhne brand world­wide. To­gether with his business part­ners he took up the in­ter­rupted task of his fam­ily – at first sight a com­pletely un­re­al­is­tic ob­jec­tive. But on 24 Oc­to­ber 1994, deal­ers and jour­nal­ists wit­nessed the pre­sen­ta­tion of the première quar­tet dur­ing a vi­brantly mem­o­rable event in Dres­den’s Royal Palace. The new A. Lange & Söhne col­lec­tion with its iconic Lange 1 sur­passed all ex­pec­ta­tions. Un­like any other watch, it sym­bol­ises A. Lange & Söhne’s un­tir­ing quest for the per­fect watch. With its rev­o­lu­tion­ary off-cen­tre dial lay­out and the out­size date, it de­fined new bench­marks.

Very early the Lange en­gi­neers and watch­mak­ers be­gan to ex­plore the spec­trum of horo­log­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions in the brand’s own inim­itable style, and to break new ground in watch­mak­ing. The do­main of grand com­pli­ca­tions is an area in which we have played a lead­ing role ever since the launch of the Tour­bil­lon “Pour le Mérite”, the first wrist­watch fea­tur­ing a fusée-and-chain trans­mis­sion in 1994. In 2013, the Grand Com­pli­ca­tion, the most com­plex wrist­watch ever built in Ger­many, marked the pre­lim­i­nary high­light of an on­go­ing de­vel­op­ment. But with the Richard Lange Per­pet­ual Cal­en­dar “Ter­raluna” and its patented or­bital moon-phase in­di­ca­tion, we have al­ready taken the next step. Our am­bi­tion to never stand still will keep us com­mit­ted to fol­low­ing the founder’s vi­sion and de­sire to build the world’s best watches and en­rich the world of fine watch­mak­ing with mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tions.

T H E F I R S T B U I L D I N G WI T H L A N G E ' S WO R K S H O P IN GLASHÜTTE ( A R O U N D 1870 ).

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