When you first joined A. Lange & Söhne, did you feel that Blümlein and Reinhard Meis had handed you a clear design language?
Yes, it was very clear. Of course, Blümlein came in with a blank piece of paper with nothing but the ancient history of the brand. During the most important years of the development of the wristwatch, after the War and up until the 1960s, Lange didn’t exist, so we had no archive or attic to pull design inspiration from and do remakes. The genius of Blümlein was that he took the traditional elements, but he didn’t make something in the Baroque style; he made this perfect mixture of modernity and timelessness, with a very down-to-earth philosophy. The reason for this is that we know our watches are expensive, and we also know that we can only produce a certain number every year, so we didn’t want to jump on trends, we didn’t do 50 shades of green dials in the last two years, and this year we are only releasing this one watch.
We are very much watchmakers, so when I arrived in 2004 it was clear that a solid foundation had been made and my job was to carefully develop it. But I see my role as wider than this – not only are we trying to create watches, but we also need to develop knowledge given that we are a young company, with next year only being our 30th in the market. This is why we started different projects like chiming watches. This was never a tradition in Glashütte, but for me it was important that as a brand Lange has the knowledge to build these things. The same with enamel dials, and the [handcrafted] watches, even the Odysseus, which came from collectors asking for a Lange watch that they could wear on their holidays and jump in the pool with.
When designing a new model at Lange, are they all done dial-side down or would a movement be developed, and the aesthetics be designed to fit it?