FLY ME TO THE MOON
Lange’s Terraluna doesn’t exactly do that, but it offers the next best thing: it shows, in real time, how the moon appears from the Earth.
The piece de resistance is the back of Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar “Terraluna”.
WHAT’S IN A NICKNAME? Well, just about everything, really. Snoop Dog just wouldn’t be the same if he went by his birth name, Calvin Broadus. Ditto Sean Combs, a.k.a. P Diddy, or Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z. So it was probably a good thing that Lange coined the moniker “Terraluna” for its 2014 show-stopper, the Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar. It not only saves us a mouthful, but also hints at what makes the watch so phenomenal.
As you might have already guessed, “Terraluna” is a portmanteau of “terra” and “luna”—“earth” and “moon” in Latin—so the watch must have something to do with those elements. Like a discreet gentleman who doesn’t lay all his cards on the table, however, those details are only revealed on the case back. But first, mention must be made of the classical regulator-style dial, which displays perpetual calendar and power reserve indications, and for the first time in the Richard Lange collection, a signature outsized date.
The dial design takes its cues from Johann Heinrich Seyffert’s regulator clock, circa 1807. Lange owes a debt of gratitude to the Saxon watchmaker, who helped develop Dresden into a hub of fine watchmaking in the 19th century. Regulator clocks such as Seyffert’s, with their precise displays of minutes and seconds, were used by watchmaking manufactures to synchronise new timepieces, and relied on by observatories to keep good time.
The Terraluna, like Seyffert’s clock before it, is also an excellent timekeeper, thanks to Calibre L096.1’s twin barrels that deliver a 14-day power reserve, and a constant force mechanism designed to keep the rate stable during this period. It’s the same system used in the Lange 31, where a remontoir (French for “winder”) spring is periodically rewound by the mainspring and then delivers a constant torque to the escape wheel, resulting in a uniform amplitude and high rate accuracy.
This means you could scoot off on a two-week vacay and come back to find your watch still keeping perfect time. To avoid over-consumption of energy by the instantaneously jumping calendar displays, the force required for this purpose is gradually built up by a cam and then released abruptly at midnight.
Now for the pièce de résistance: the case back. It showcases, for the first time on a wristwatch, the moon phase and its position relative to the earth and the sun. “The idea was to show how you see the moon in the real sky,” says Product Development Director Anthony de Haas. “It’s our most accurate moon phase indication. You only need to correct it by one day after 1,058 years,” he adds. Ingeniously—perhaps even quite humorously—Haas and his team used the balance assembly to represent the sun, since the sun remains in a fixed position and, well, the balance’s gilded surface is analogous to its solar counterpart.
The patent-pending mechanism features three discs: a celestial disc that rotates precisely according to the lunar cycles, i.e. once every 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and three seconds, in an anti-clockwise direction; a lunar disc that reveals itself in the aperture; and an earth disc that spins on its own axis once a day.
“All three discs are made of solid white gold, and have that special blue coating which we have patented and used over the years for our moon phase watches. And all these little stars—2,160 of them—are laser-engraved, as are the continents of the Earth,” says de Haas. There’s also a peripheral ring with a 24-hour scale for users to approximate the time anywhere in the northern hemisphere. A 45.5mm case in pink or white gold provides the requisite backdrop to this sublime complication
Top: A Lange & SÖhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar “Terraluna”.
Right: Reverse side showing the earth and the star constellations and the moonphase.