Posted by Robert-Jan Broer on Feb 03, 2014
Ever since I started to develop a serious interest in watches, I’ve been exposed to the advertisements of A. Lange & Söhne in (mostly) German watch magazines. This must have been around 1997 or 1998, just a few years after the A. Lange & Söhne manufacture got ‘re-invented’. Since then, I’ve always had a weak spot for their Lange 1 timepiece, especially in white gold but never was lucky enough to be able to pull the trigger on one.
Big was the joy – and smile on my face – when A. Lange & Söhne in Glashütte sent me one of their timepieces to perform a review and photo-shoot on. The A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Time Zone in platinum is one of my favorite watches, as I love the Lange 1 model and I also love traveler’s timepieces. Even though I love moon phases, minute repeaters and tourbillon complications, the extra time zone is one of my favorites. Perhaps also the most useful one.
Having traveled through different time zones a lot in my previous life working for an investment bank with multiple offices in the world, I know and understand the ease and comfort of using one. Whether it is business wise to get in touch with colleagues in a different time zone or to simply check if it is a suitable time to call your loved ones who remain in your ‘home time’ zone. This can be done using a lot of different watches, from simple plastic digital ones to stainless steel sports watches with an extra hour hand or to very complex and high-end manufactured timepieces like this Lange 1 Time Zone watch. Although I always fell in the mid-category, I now got the opportunity to give this Lange 1 Time Zone a try.
Unwrapping the package that the nice people of A. Lange & Söhne sent me; I really got excited by the second. Also a bit nervous, as it is one of the most expensive timepieces we got to try here at Fratellowatches. The heavy weight – due to its platinum case – timepiece feels actually quite good on the wrist. Even though its modest size of 41,9mm x 11mm, it certainly has a lot of presence on the wrist. If platinum is too heavy for you, there is also a version in white gold (as there are a yellow and red gold version as well). However, I love the look & feel of platinum. It is a bit more towards the color of stainless steel then the white-ish from white gold.
The manufacture caliber L031.1 movement can be observed through the sapphire case back of this Lange 1 Time Zone. A wonderful movement that is being crafted according to Glashütte guidelines and tradition, a 3/4 base plate movement made out of German silver with two hand engraved cocks (one for the balance wheel). The thing with A. Lange & Söhne movements is that they are so beautiful that it is very difficult to keep your timepiece strapped to the wrist when you are sitting down and having a minute to yourself. The photos that Fratellowatches’ photographer Bert took really show all the details of this movement, including the finish on the main plate as well as the hand engraving. Also, you’ll see the nice brushed finish of the case back itself as well. This type of finish is actually not something I’d expect from an otherwise high polished case. However, I do love the look of it as it has something ‘industrial’ and in combination with the marvelous view on the movement I guess it was the best thing to do. Perhaps a polished finished case back would distract a bit too much from the movement.
The front side of the watch, or the dial, is just mesmerizing as well. The large dial indicates home time where the local time is indicated by the small dial at 4 o’clock. The small triangle in this sub dial, located at 5 o’clock points out to the city that is on the city-ring. Using the rectangular pusher on the lower-left side of the case (positioned at 8 o’clock), you increase the hour hand of the local time and thus the city ring as well.
As already written, the large dial shows the home time. The small sub dial within this home time dial shows the seconds and then there is this little day/night indicator located at 12 o’clock. You will see that the local time dial (sub dial at 4 o’clock) also has a similar day/night indicator except that the blue line – that indicates the nightly hours – has turned a bit. I suspect that this has been done for esthetical reasons. However, it did confuse me for a few moments when setting the watch. Another design ‘decision’ is the use of Roman numerals for the home time dial and the use of Arabic numerals for the local time dial. To me, the use of these different hour markers looks very balanced, perhaps also because all the hands have the same design. Isn’t there anything I don’t like about the dial? Well, the day/night indicator of the local time is a bit weird, but not disturbing. The one thing I really had to get used to, are the number of words that are printed on the dial and city disc. Probably also because of the city disc, there is little you can do about this, but the extras (e.g. Doppelfederhaus, Glashütte S/A, Made in Germany) could be discussed. Don’t get me wrong here, as I do think this watch is scary close to the perfect watch I’d love to own.
At 3 o’clock, you see a fairly large hand indicating either Auf or Ab. You have probably guessed it right; this is the power reserve indicator. The caliber L031.1 movement has a power reserve of 72 hours due to the two barrels (‘doppelfederhaus’) and an indicator of how much energy is left is quite useful for a hand-wound timepiece. Auf in German means Up where Ab stands for Down. This might be confusing when pronouncing Ab and Up both in English.
Just like the regular Lange 1 model, the timepiece that I mentioned at the beginning of this review, this Lange 1 Time Zone also has the typical big date apertures.
When wearing this watch for a few weeks, I got a lot of comments from fellow watch enthusiasts. A. Lange & Söhne seems to be a grail manufacturer for a lot of collectors and admirers of beautiful watches out there. Especially when I took it off my wrist and handed it over, the platinum (almost everyone expected white gold) and the beauty of the movement were topics to talk about. As well as the day/night indicators by the way, if there was time to look at the dial more closely. One of the more funny remarks was when I posted a photo of this watch on my wrist on Facebook. Someone noticed that I was wearing jeans and sneakers as well and commented that wearing a timepiece like this in combination with sneakers was ‘not done’. Personally, I believe that especially those who made the decision to buy this timepiece, are people that are perfectly capable of deciding what they want to wear in combination with this watch without following all sorts of fashion rules. Although I have no illusions of being able to afford or buy a timepiece in this price category (the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Time Zone has a list price of € 50.400,00) any time soon, this one would probably be my pick anyway. I am truly stunned by this reference 116.025 A. Lange & Söhne but for now I will have to keep it at day dreaming.
More information can be found on the official A. Lange & Söhne website.