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 a master watchmaker, Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes. Passed from father to son, the Lange name flourished, before encountering considerable obstacles during the 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 of October 1994. These innovative models, all of them possessing their own distinctive visual language, are comprised of the Arkade, Saxonia, Tourbillon Pour le Mérite and the Lange 1.
The Up/Down Datograph
In 1999, A. Lange & Söhne introduced the Datograph, powered by the calibre L951.1. The movement challenged the status quo that had been in place for decades, where high-end manufactures such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet used movements provided by external suppliers. The newly developed calibre combined impressive mechanics with a remarkable aesthetic construction.
The Datograph name is an amalgamation of the words Date and Chronograph, indicating the two key complications of the model. In particular, this reference 405.035 was released in 2012, which is when a new generation of Datographs were introduced. This piece was nicknamed the Up/Down Datograph, thanks to the power reserve placed at the 6 o’clock marker that says “AB/AUF”. There are also subtle design changes between the two generations of pieces, to update it with a more modern look.
This Up/Down Datograph ref. 405.035 is encased in platinum and has a jet-black dial with silvered sub-dials and white accents. Designed by Anthony de Haas, the piece features subtle differences from its predecessor. We can see that the case size has increased from 39 to 41mm, in keeping with the modern trend for slightly larger watches. The Roman numerals are also replaced with baton hour markers, while the inner tachymeter dial has been removed completely, leaving only the pulsometer on the outermost ring of the watch’s circumference.
Despite these changes, several key design features still remain, such as the oversized “outer” aperture displayed at the top right corner of the dial, inspired by the Five-Minute Clock at Semper Opera House in Dresden. The subdials are slightly recessed, with a warm, creamy tone, which contrasts with the stark, black dial. This layering creates a satisfying level of depth, which becomes especially prominent when light hits the dial at different angles. The A. Lange & Söhne signature is discretely placed at 12 o'clock. The broad hands are lumed, helping with legibility, and leaning into the more contemporary aesthetics of the Datograph.
This Datograph ref. 405.035 comes with its outer box, inner box, polishing cloth, leather folio, manuals, and Certificate of Origin (confirming sale in 2014, in Monaco).