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. The brand released four innovative models, all of the with their own distinctive visual language, the Arkade, Saxonia, Tourbillon Pour le Mérite and the Lange 1.
The "Grey" Lange 1
For many, the Lange 1 is the quintessential A. Lange & Söhne watch, and by extension the purest form of German design in watchmaking. Believed to have been produced between 2003 and 2007, the reference 101.030 combines a white gold case with a restrained grey dial, made out of solid silver. Few of these pieces were ever made, as it is believed that A. Lange & Söhne clients tended to prefer lighter dials at the time. It is understood that this variant was made in fewer examples than the so-called 101.035 "Darth", another unusual Lange 1 from the period.
The decentralised arrangement of the displays on the dial is characteristic, with the centers of the displays designed to form the corners of an isosceles triangle. The masterful use of empty space, with none of the displays overlapping, creates an overall sense of balance and refinement. In keeping with this classic styling, the watch features a crisp grey dial and faceted hands. The oversized date disc, a signature design from the brand, is displayed at the top right corner of the dial, inspired from the Five-Minute Clock at Semper Opera House in Dresden. At 3 o’clock, the power reserve is indicated in German, a reminder of the manufacture’s origins.
The dial features a dark, matte finish, providing a subtle contrast with the lightly recessed subdials. With a change of light, the anthracite colour can turn to a lighter mid-gray, with the very fine texture softly catching the light. Being an earlier piece from the German watchmaker, it is housed in a classically sized 38.5mm white gold case, similar to the original Lange 1.
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. The use of this metal, along with the hand-engraved balance cock is a signature of A. Lange & Söhne.
The A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 houses a manual-winding calibre L901.0, with a 72-hour power reserve. The movement is comprised of 398 components, of which 54 are jewels and five screwed gold chatons – the latter of which are a mark of Lange’s traditionally German movement. The watch has a lever escapement and the balance beats at 21,600 A/h.
This A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 ref. 101.030 comes with its outer box, leather box, leather document folder, instruction manual, International Guarantee (stamped and dated by the retailer, confirming it was sold in September 2013) and a "History of your watch" booklet. It is also accompanied by two A. Lange & Söhne Lange dust cloths, a bespoke grey saffiano strap, as well as its original white gold tang buckle.
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