Technical tourbillon gets a 100-piece limited run with flat enamel dial.
by James Buttery
How to make A. Lange & Söhne’s spectacular 1815 Tourbillon which, when released in 2014, was the first watch to combine a stop seconds tourbillon with a zero-reset mechanism for single-second precision adjustment, even more desirable?
The Glashutte maison (or is that haus?) has released a 100-piece limited edition run in platinum with a crisp white enamel dial to set off the vivid thermally blued hands.
Enamel dials are something we have a renewed respect for here at QP, having recently visited the famed Ulysse Nardin-owned Donze Cadrans in Switzerland (watch this space for a full QP Field Trip report in the Autumn issue). The rejection rate when producing an enamel dial is incredible, often requiring four or five pieces to be made to find one that will pass muster. The risk of breakage while drilling holes for cannon pinion and post in a near complete dial is also very real.
It’s also worth noting that this Lange enamel dial is also ever so slightly simplified in its architecture when compared to the standard solid silver dials of the 1815 Tourbillon. Instead of featuring a circular, central recessed section the enamel dial is a flat, single layered design.
Of course, replicating the standard 1815 Tourbillon dial design in enamel would certainly be feasible (Hermes released a multi-layered enamel dial Slim d’Hermes in 2016). Producing a multi-layered enamelled dial involves first producing the main dial and cutting out the areas that will sit at different levels. Inserts are then created (small dials in their own right) and soldered behind the main dial. While the inherent complexity of the processes would see the rejection rate, and therefore the price, increase exponentially, extra cost is unlikely to have driven the decision-making process in a watch already selling for £175,200.
The 12 o’clock numeral is also depicted in a bold red in contrast to the other 11 black numerals. Elsewhere this is still every inch an 1815 Tourbillon with the same 39.5mm case (although in this case individually numbered 1-100), same giant, one-minute tourbillon occupying the southern half of the dial and same 72-hour power reserve.
While the tasteful restraint and sublime finish of the 1815 Tourbillon earnt it a great many admirers when it originally appeared, this enamel-dialled version is not the first time Lange has embellished the design to create something altogether more showy.
A year after releasing the 1815 Tourbillon, Lange produced a 30-piece Handwerkskunst version. Lange’s Handwerkskunst series of haute de gamme, finissage-embellished watches (beyond the usual hand engraved balance cocks that are a signature of Glashutte watchmaking) has so far included six collection with enamelling, engraving and tremblage applied to its highest pieces; think Pour le Mérite and Zeitwerk.
The 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst saw the minute texture of tremblage applied to a pink gold dial and black rhodium-plated, achieving a stark visual contrast between the silvery grey of the tremblage and the vivid pink gold of the Arabic numerals, lettering and chapter ring.