The Glashutte firm’s honorary chairman and great-grandson of founder Ferdinand A Lange died in January 2017. Now, 27 years to the day after A. Lange & Sohne was revived following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Glashutte firm has released a series of watches in his honour.
By Chris Hall
Walter Lange was a huge figure in modern watchmaking, and absolutely instrumental to the reformation and the success of A. Lange & Sohne since 1990. When the news emerged during SIHH 2017 that he had passed away, it left a sombre mood among the many who had met him, and fans of the watches – like the Lange 1 and the Datograph – that without him would not have existed.
As you would expect, the company is now paying tribute to his life’s work with a run of special edition watches, and as you would expect from A. Lange & Sohne, they do so in the most discreet and mannered way possible. No bells and whistles here: instead something horologically pure and effortlessly tasteful.
What we have here is a new take on the 1815, with a central jumping seconds hand (also known as dead seconds, deadbeat seconds, true beat seconds). This one, unlike many, is stoppable at any point via the pusher at 2 o’clock (and can in effect act as a rudimentary chronograph, therefore). It’s also unusual in that the watch retains the 1815’s standard sweep seconds at the 6 o’clock subdial – so the watch will provide a little low-key visual theatre as you see the two seconds hands advance in sync.
This jumping seconds complication harks back to an 1867 invention of F A Lange, and works on the same principle (known as “flirt and star”), where a six-pointed star wheel meters out the energy for the jump seconds hand in conjunction with a ratchet.
Larger than the standard 1815 (40.5mm compared to 38.5mm), it will be produced in white gold, yellow gold and pink gold, each with blued steel hands and a railroad minute track. This is the sentimental bit: the calibre has been designated L1924 in honour of Walter Lange’s birth year; the production volumes of each variant also correspond to significant dates in his life. 145 in white gold (the length of time between the brand’s founding and it’s re-emergence); 90 in pink gold for the year of the brand’s re-birth, and 27 in yellow gold for the time (to the day, December 7th), since the company was re-formed.
And that’s not all. There will also be a one-off extra special version of the same watch, in stainless steel with a black enamel dial. Steel watches from A. Lange & Sohne are already rarer than hen’s teeth, so this will be in huge demand. It will be auctioned in 2018 with the proceeds going to charitable causes.