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 Jumping Seconds
A. Lange & Söhne first introduced the Richard Lange family of watches in 2006, intended to focus on certain aspects of precision timekeeping. This willingness is apparent in their observation watches, which were specifically made for scientific expeditions and navigation. The overall theme of this collection is that it encompasses some of precision watchmaking’s most classic complications, all of which are designed to improve timekeeping.
One of the more obscure in horology, the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds incorporates a deadbeat seconds, rarely found in contemporary watchmaking. An interesting complication for the brand to take on, the original deadbeat escapement goes all the way back to 1675, when it was invented by Richard Towneley for use in regulator clocks at the Greenwich Observatory. The complication itself is demonstrated through the way the jumping seconds snap into position, contrary to the majority of mechanical watches where the second hand glides smoothly between passing seconds.
It features a remontoir d'egalité system, which provides constant force to the escapement. In precision terms, it provides as consistent energy to the balance as possible, for a better rate of stability. The remontoire d'égalité in the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds is rewound once every second, and the advance of the remontoire drives the seconds hand in one-second jumps. It also incorporates a hacking-second and zero-reset mechanism, where the small seconds' hand stops and resets to zero when the winding crown is pulled out; a rare ‘mini-complication’ in wristwatches, allowing for even more precise setting of the time. This is achieved using a heart-shaped reset-to-zero piece, similar to the resetting mechanism in chronographs.
A familiar Design
The dial design is based on a pocket watch originally made by Johann Heinrich Seyffert in the late 18th century, which was also used by Lange for the Richard Lange Tourbillon Pour Le Mérite. Having previously used the Five-Minute Clock at Semper Opera House as the basis for it’s Lange 1 dial design, A. Lange & Söhne have a history of looking to Dresden’s watch and clockmaking past, for inspiration.
The deadbeats seconds occupies a central place, emphasised through the large seconds sub-dial. By comparison, the other subsidiary dials for the hours and minutes are placed below, with overlapping portions. So as to keep the indications legible, the hours on the left side feature bold Roman numerals, whereas the minutes on the left emphasise the 15-minute intervals in red. The power reserve indicator sits discretely between the two opposing subsidiary dials, in the the form of a triangle which switches to red when there is ten hours of power reserve remaining.
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 Richard Lange Jumping Seconds houses a manual-winding calibre L094.1, with a 42-hour power reserve. The movement is comprised of 390 components, with 50 jewels and eight screwed gold chatons – the latter of which are a mark of Lange’s traditionally German movement. The watch has a constant-force escapement, with in-house remontoir spring, jumping seconds, stop-seconds and zero-reset mechanism, and the balance beats at 21,600 A/h.
This A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Jumping Seconds ref. 252.032 comes on our taupe grained leather Zürich strap, as well as its original Lange alligator strap and corresponding rose gold pin buckle. It is also accompanied by its original outer box, leather box, instruction manual and stamped Guarantee.