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 Pour le Mérite Collection
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. Langepedia, a respected voice in the space, described the Richard Lange Pour le Mérite in the following words,
" A combination of utter simplicity with exceptional mechanics chasing after precision and accuracy."
This technical expression is often most apparent in Lange’s Pour le Mérite models, reserved for the brand’s most advanced developments. The original reference still arguably represents A. Lange & Söhne’s most important watch, which combined a fusée and chain mechanism and tourbillon complication in a wristwatch for the first time. The Richard Lange Pour le Mérite retains this fusée and chain system for improved chronometry, though removes the exposed tourbillon for a decidedly more pared back dial. The result remains something of a beloved paradox in watchmaking - a highly-technical, time-only watch.
The fusée-and-chain transmission is one of the most effective complications when it comes to increasing accuracy. Essentially, it equalises the waning force of the mainspring as it winds down, ensuring that the movement always receives a constant amount of energy and keeps the watch running at an exact rate. The system has mainly been used in marine chronometers and pocket watches historically, though at a larger scale.
An impressive feat of miniaturisation, the chain alone in the Richard Lange Pour le Mérite has 636 hand-assembled components and is only 0.25mm high. Lange’s original wristwatch version was only made possible by collaborating with specialist movement constructors Renaud & Papi, which is a testament to the ingenuity and expertise required to achieve it.
A deceptively simple design
Unlike previous versions of the Richard Lange Pour Le Mérite, which were fitted with enamel dials, the white gold reference 260.028 features a solid silver dial with a slightly glossy black finish. As is classically Lange, the dial features multiple levels, with a recessed central portion and the subsidiary seconds sitting slightly lower, giving a sense of depth to the otherwise uniformly finished design.
In contrast, the numerals which mark the hours are printed in white, with red accents at each quarter for the minutes. The sharp, white gold hands are characteristic of the German watchmaker's style. As with both the pink gold and platinum variants of the Richard Lange Pour Le Mérite, the white gold version is housed within a 40.5mm case.
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 Pour Le Mérite houses a manual-winding calibre L044.1, with a 36-hour power reserve. The movement has a fusée-and-chain mechanism and is comprised of 279 individual parts, excluding the chain itself.
This A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Pour Le Mérite ref. 260.028 comes on our taupe grained leather Zürich strap, as well as its original alligator strap and corresponding white gold pin buckle. It is also accompanied by its original outer box, leather box, instruction manual and stamped Guarantee.