A. Lange & Söhne hon­ours the life of the late Wal­ter Lange with a spe­cial time­piece, writes STEPHANIE IP

#Legend - - SIHH -


WHEN BREAK­ING NEWS of Wal­ter Lange’s death spread on the sec­ond day of SIHH 2017, the whole watch­mak­ing world was sad­dened. Lange was a vi­sion­ary, a stead­fast be­liever who res­ur­rected his fam­ily’s trade and led it to new heights. So when the heads at A. Lange & Söhne sat down to dis­cuss how they could pay ap­pro­pri­ate tribute, they knew they had to bring some­thing very, very spe­cial to the ta­ble.

Arnd Ein­horn, the com­pany’s di­rec­tor of press and public re­la­tions, has only fond mem­o­ries of the man. “I had the great op­por­tu­nity to work re­ally closely with him over the course of 20 years,” he ex­plains. “I got to travel with him, talk to him, and have many, many din­ners with him and clients. He was the face of Lange – the pa­tron, the father fig­ure for many watch­mak­ers. Ev­ery time he came to the man­u­fac­ture, de­spite his great age, he went to the atelier and would talk to the watch­mak­ers, es­pe­cially the young ap­pren­tices. He was al­ways in­ter­ested in what the peo­ple were do­ing and he al­ways gave his feed­back, both pos­i­tive and crit­i­cal.”

The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Homage to Wal­ter Lange fea­tures a stop­pable jump­ing sec­onds hand that dates back to a 150-year-old in­ven­tion con­ceived by Wal­ter Lange’s great­grand­fa­ther, Fer­di­nand Adolph Lange, which be­came one of Ger­many’s first patents in 1877. If you’re a se­ri­ous watch en­thu­si­ast look­ing for a puris­tic yet ex­cit­ing com­pli­ca­tion, this is it.

“The jump­ing sec­onds had a very spe­cial mean­ing to Wal­ter Lange,” says Ein­horn.

“He was so keen to have this re­alised in a con­tem­po­rary wrist­watch at Lange and he asked of­ten for that. This is why the de­ci­sion was taken to do some­thing in the 1815 line, which is the most tra­di­tional line.”

On the dial, you’ll see a small-sec­onds reg­is­ter at six o’clock, with an ad­di­tional blued sec­onds hand in the cen­tre and a pusher on the case at two o’clock. The cen­tre sec­onds hand is the jump­ing sec­onds hand, which makes pre­cise jumps from sec­ond to sec­ond (in­stead of sweep­ing from one sec­ond to the other), and can be started and stopped as the wearer pleases by us­ing the pusher at two o’clock.

The watch is pow­ered by a newly de­vel­oped move­ment: the L1924, in a nod to Wal­ter’s year of birth. Ad­di­tion­ally, the first three dig­its of the ref­er­ence num­ber,

297, marks his birth date of July 29. The 1815 Homage to Wal­ter Lange comes in three edi­tions: 145 pieces in white gold, 90 in pink gold and 27 in yel­low gold. These num­bers may seem odd at first glance, but they ac­tu­ally mark im­por­tant mile­stones in the Lange fam­ily’s his­tory. The num­ber 145 rep­re­sents the years from the time Fer­di­nand Adolph es­tab­lished the com­pany to when Wal­ter reg­is­tered Lange Uhren GmbH af­ter the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Ger­many. That res­ur­rec­tion took place in 1990 – and he served another 27 years be­fore his death.

On May 12 and 13, we’ll be wit­ness­ing the auc­tion of an ex­tra­or­di­nary one-of-a-kind time­piece: the 1815 Homage to Wal­ter Lange with a black enamel dial and a stain­less steel case. Auc­tion house Phillips, in as­so­ci­a­tion with Bacs & Russo, is over­see­ing the sale. Pro­ceeds from the auc­tion go to Chil­dren Ac­tion Foun­da­tion, a Geneva-based char­ity that gives med­i­cal aid to chil­dren in need around the globe.

Al­though the unique piece is in stain­less steel – in­deed, there’s a ris­ing de­mand in the world of horol­ogy for stain­less steel pieces – Ein­horn in­sists that this is not A. Lange & Söhne’s core phi­los­o­phy. “We do look into new ma­te­ri­als and we in­tro­duced a new gold al­loy eight years ago, but we stay within the range of pre­cious met­als,” he ex­plains. “It’s a very pre­cious move­ment, so it should be housed in a very pre­cious case. There have been stain­less steel watches in the past – it was in the late ’90s and we did some Lange 1 in stain­less steel for the Ital­ian mar­ket. But later on, we be­came stricter about not do­ing stain­less steel. Of course, we’ll make ex­cep­tions for unique pieces and for good rea­sons.”

Non-pre­cious met­als might be out of the ques­tion, but cus­tomers won’t be short of colour choices. Three new ver­sions of the Lit­tle Lange 1 for women were un­veiled this year in three new colours and straps, cre­at­ing three com­pletely new looks. The first is a pur­ple dial in guil­loche gold framed by a white gold case and hands and ap­pliqués in rhodi­umed gold; this ver­sion is limited to 100 watches. The sec­ond is a grey guil­loche dial, also cased in white gold, with a match­ing grey leather strap. The third is the pink-gold ver­sion, which comes with a brown-hued guil­loche dial. In­side all three ver­sions are the man­ual-wound cal­i­bre L121.1, and like all pre­vi­ous ver­sions, the asym­met­ri­cal dial shows the time, a power-re­serve in­di­ca­tor and a jump­ing out­sized date.

The 1815 Homage to Wal­ter Lange time­piece might be what ev­ery­one was talk­ing about pre-SIHH, but at the fair, it was the Sax­o­nia Triple Split that stole the show. “No one has ever done a Dou­ble Split, which we did 14 years ago in 2004. I heard some­one say, ‘The Dou­ble Split hasn’t even been copied yet and you’ve al­ready come up with the next level of lap-time mea­sure­ment!’ That’s the way we ap­proach things – you could say Ger­mans are a bit crazy that way,” jokes Ein­horn.

Tra­di­tional rat­tra­pante com­pli­ca­tions, also called split-sec­ond chrono­graphs, come with an ad­di­tional sec­onds hand on the chrono­graph func­tion that’s su­per­im­posed over the nor­mal sec­onds hand. A nor­mal pusher but­ton starts the chrono­graph, while an ad­di­tional pusher, once pressed, cre­ates a “split” – the ad­di­tional sec­onds hand stops to mark the time, while the nor­mal sec­onds hands con­tinue to run. The Dou­ble Split had the abil­ity to split min­utes – but the Triple Split, with the abil­ity to mea­sure multi-hour time up to 12 hours, comes in at a whole new level.

The new time­piece, which comes in a 43.2mm white gold case, also has a power re­serve of 55 hours, a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease from the 38 hours in the Dou­ble Split.

In­side beats the man­ual-wound cal­i­bre L132.1. The Triple Split comes in a limited edi­tion of only 100 pieces.

Clockwise from here: The in­tri­cate in­ner work­ings of an A. Lange & Söhne; 1815 Homage to Wal­ter Lange in steel; three new ver­sions of the Lit­tle Lange 1; the Triple Split

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