The Rebirth of A. Lange & Söhne
The name Lange has been tied to watchmaking and the Saxony area of Germany for centuries. In the 1800s, Ferdinand Aldoph Lange – which is where the “A” in A. Lange & Söhne comes from – began his watchmaking journey under the tutelage of master watchmaker, Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes. Passed from father to son, the Lange name flourished, before encountering considerable obstacles during 20th century. The brand got caught-up in the turmoil caused by World War One, the financial crash of 1929, World War Two and was finally placed under the rule of the Soviet Union. The company was nationalised for the next 45 years, essentially spelling the end of the A. Lange & Söhne name.
Years later, in 1990, the brand was resuscitated by the great-grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, Walter, and watch industry veteran, Günter Blümlein. Blümlein, a Nuremberg native who grew up in post-War Germany, had previously overseen the resurgence of IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre. This started the four-year journey that Lange and Blümlein would go on with their small team to bring the company back from the ashes, with the release of their first four models on the 24th October 1994. These innovative models, the Arkade, Saxonia, Tourbillon Pour le Mérite and the Lange 1, all with their own distinctive visual language, marked the beginning of the manufacturers next chapter.
The 1815 Up / Down
The 1815 Up / Down draws on a patent obtained by the A. Lange & Söhne in 1879, for a device which detects whether the movement is wound up or wound down. This was one of the earliest patents ever obtained by the brand, having been used in several of their early pocket watches. As such, when the A. Lange & Söhne name was relaunched in 1994, it only made sense that this system of power reserve should take a central place.
The brand launched their first line-up of pieces in 1994, which included four models, all designed from scratch. Only three years later, they expanded their collection for the first time, with the 1815 Up / Down bringing some added variety. This particular model, the ref. 221.032, was produced from 2001 to 2008, combining an unusual rose gold case and a crisp, silver dial.
A Classic Design
This 1815 Up / Down features a symmetrical dial, which is both legible and aesthetically balanced. From the thickness of the various fonts to the masterful use of empty space, every aspect of the design feels thoroughly thought through. It is subtly layered over several levels, with the hour numerals sitting at the highest point, printed in the brand’s classic style. The layering of the dial creates a satisfying level of depth, which becomes especially prominent when light hits the dial at different angles.
The centre of the dial is sparsely laid out, with the A. Lange & Söhne signature following the curvature of the hours chapter ring. The running seconds and the Up / Down indicator sit in two lightly recessed subdials, at 4 and 8 o’clock. The “AUF” end of the subdial indicates that the movement is wound, whereas the “AB” shows that it is empty.
The “GANGRESERVE” inscription above the power reserve indicators demonstrates a masterful use of asymmetry, which adds an unusual detail to an otherwise pared back design. Whilst the yellow gold and platinum variants of the 1815 Up / Down use blued steel for the hour and minute hands, the rose gold version stands out with its matching rose gold hands. This gives a greater coherence to the overall appearance of the watch.
Measuring 36mm by 8mm, the case is made out of rose gold, which leans into the classic aesthetic of the piece. The case features the brand’s distinctive notched lugs, which are mirror polished and bevelled separately, then attached to the case.
This 1815 Up / Down is powered by the caliber L942.1, which combines a range of impressive technical and aesthetic features. The movement beats at a frequency of 3Hz, whilst having a power reserve of 45 hours, and also integrating a hacking seconds mechanism.
The aesthetics of the movement are just as impressive as the mechanics, with chamfering and interior angles superbly hand-finished. Moreover, it features an artistic flourish, a balance-cock engraved by one of Lange’s master engravers. In fact, it is said that each individual watchmaker's unique engraving style can be identified as a result. The bridges and plates are made from German silver, an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc, with a warm silver tone that will develop a subtle patina over time.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this 1815 Up / Down 221.032 will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.