The first thing which needs addressing is possibly the defining characteristic of many Lange watches, the oversized date. It was fitted to three of the original four models and has been copied by many other manufactures since, especially those also based in Germany. Reaching back into its history, this design choice was directly inspired by the five-minute digital display clock that Ferdinand Adolph Lange helped to install above the stage of the Dresden Opera House. Mechanically, installing a large date window on a watch, without seriously compromising on thinness, is not the easiest of tasks. While the Lange 1 is by no means an ultra-thin watch, the integration of the large date display didn’t significantly alter the proportions of the timepiece.
The man who managed to get this large date window into the design language of the new A. Lange & Söhne was Reinhard Meis. Hired by Günter Blümlein in 1991 as a technical adviser and movement designer, this trained watchmaker had already written multiple books on some of the more technical and historical aspects of horology. His genius was found in his ability to recognise the importance of strong aesthetics and then have the technical know-how to ensure the mechanics of the watch will fit them. Blümlein would often describe Meis as his “prolonged arm” as he worked away behind the scenes of A. Lange & Söhne.
Design-wise, the measurements of it were carefully considered, meeting the exacting standards of the Golden Ratio. This helps make the date window, one of the most complained about aspects of watch design, into something which is intrinsically pleasing and doesn’t come across as an afterthought. Possibly one of the most carefully considered date windows on the market at that time, it solved the problem that Rolex tried to fix with their cyclops, namely legibility. Another important characteristic of the date window is that its size does not overpower the rest of the dial, where dead space is used to great effect.