The sad news of Walter Lange’s death on the morning of the second SIHH day in 2017 shocked the world of watchmaking. Asked at the time how he intended to salute Walter Lange, Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid replied: “The best way to honour Walter Lange is to assure the continuity and the ongoing development of the company that he founded – in the way that he would have envisioned it.” Now, with the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange”, A. Lange & Söhne is proving that a watch is capable of reflecting the in-tention and personality of a founder. The 1815 « Homage to Walter Lange » model comes in four different versions. One of them has a black enamel dial and a steel case and will be produced only once.
The 1815 « Homage to Walter Lange » timepiece has a stoppable jumping seconds hand that dates back to a 150-year-old invention by Ferdinand Adolph Lange.
1815 « Homage to Walter Lange », stainless steel case and black enamel dial © A. Lange & Söhne
The jumping seconds was one of Walter Lange’s favourite complications because it embodies the puristic notion of precision watchmaking, while at the same time being a piece of family history. It does not divide the second into a number of steps depending on the balance frequency, but instead treats it as a coherent unit of time. A pusher at 2 o’clock starts and stops the sweep seconds hand. The idea dates back to an invention by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in 1867; in an advanced configuration developed by his son Richard, it was granted one of Germany’s first patents in 1877. Lange’s “one-second movement with a jumping hand” was implemented for the first time in a masterpiece built by his second son, Emil, Walter Lange’s grandfather.
Overall, more than 300 pocket watches with this function were crafted. Just like the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange”, they were endowed with a separate seconds subdial. Buyers included the Leipzig Observatory, Grand Duke Adolph of Luxem-bourg, Ernst Abbe, the owner of Carl Zeiss in Jena, and the eccentric English watchmaker Sir John Bennett.
As a tribute to a very unusual individual who was dedicated to craftsmanship his entire life, the one-off piece is stainless steel is endowed with a black enamel dial that, with the traditional railway-track minute scale and the polished hands, is inspired by the design of historic pocket watches. The newly developed movement has a special calibre designation: L1924. It refers to Walter Lange’s birth year. Additionally, the first three digits of the reference num-ber 297.078 recall his date of birth, 29 July.
The 40.5-millimetre case of the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” is made of stainless steel, a material that at A. Lange & Söhne has been reserved for only a very few exclusive and special timepieces. As well as this one-off watch, limited editions in yellow gold (27 pieces), white gold (145 pieces) and pink gold (90 pieces). These uncommon numbers are derived from important milestones of the Lange family’s history. From 7 December 1845, when Ferdinand Adolph Lange originally established the company, exactly 145 years elapsed until 7 December 1990, the date on which Walter Lange registered Lange Uhren GmbH. Precisely 27 years will have passed between this date and 7 December 2017, the day on which the new model that pays tribute to Walter Lange is being unveiled.
The steel version will be auctioned off for a charitable purpose in 2018. Walter Lange, always noted for his philanthropy, would have approved.
The tiny Lange 1 has been first introduced in 2009, but includes a new motion, the manually-wound Caliber L121.2. It is the perfect size for women: 36.8mm wide, and 9.5mm thick, compared to the men’s version, which is 38.5mm broad and 10.2mm thick. The date is a major date, a signature attribute on Lange’s men’s pieces. The moon phase is a welcome departure from the traditional blue and gold sky/moon colour combination seen on men’s watches since the outset of time.The silver background with golden stars creates a different tone-on-tone dial makeup which is more compatible than a broken by the glowing blue. Add to this a guilloché pattern and you have a balance of cosmetic and elegant that many fantastic watch brands do not get right. Like the men’s, with a Caliber L121.3, the moon period will need a correction every 122.6 years. You can observe the movement through the instance back, with Lange’s signature engraved balance cock and 3/4 plate made of German silver. It comes with a white alligator strap with a pink gold buckle buckle. The diameter is 36.8mm, which is big, but not condescending as, say, a 26mm size would be. Not every girl has a tiny wrist, and even when they do, they don’t necessarily want a small, dainty watch.Also fresh for women this year from A. Lange & Söhne is your Saxonia Ladies, a new 35mm size watch to get your collection. According to Lange, Saxonia stands for “the union of minimalistic layout with mechanical fascination,” which sounds about right as a description of this group. As a timeless watch, it’s all the right components: applied gold baton hour markers using a double baton place at 12 o’clock, classical instant track, and slender hands.
1815 « Homage to Walter Lange » in yellow, white and pink gold. © A. Lange & Söhne