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.
First introduced in 1994, the Saxonia was perhaps the most paired back and restrained model from the relaunch of the brand. From the big date borrowed from the Lange 1 to the small diamond markers identical to those found on the Tourbillon Pour le Mérite, the design of the early Saxonias capture the spirit of the time. The round case, restrained sizing and symmetrical dial layout all combine to create a refined dress watch, suited to the tastes of the time.
The first Saxonia, the ref. 102.001, was introduced in yellow gold, with a silver dial and a closed caseback. Three years later, A. Lange & Söhne expanded the Saxonia collection, introducing platinum and white gold cases, as well as versions with integrated bracelets or set with precious gems. This particular model, the ref. 105.027, was produced from 1997 to 2002, combining a classic white gold case with an unusually striking blue dial. This is perhaps one of the most contemporary configurations found during the early days of A. Lange & Söhne, with a similar configuration of the Lange 1 having been produced around the same time.
A Classic Design
This Saxonia 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. The most distinctive feature of this particular example is the dark blue dial. It features a vertical, satin-brushed finish throughout, which creates some interesting effects when the watch interacts with the light at different angles, whilst on the wrist.
The A. Lange & Söhne signature is split in half, on either side of the dial, an unusual arrangement which is rarely found on watches from any period. The white printing used for the brand name, as well as the hour markers, stand out against the deep blue background. Meanwhile, the diamond hour markers, as well as the hour, minutes and seconds hand are all made out of white gold, complementing the case. The subsidiary seconds dial is subtly recessed, bringing an added depth and definition to the relatively paired back design.
The single, quick change date pusher at two o'clock serves as a small reminder of the effectively engineered, highly practical complication A. Lange & Söhne added to an otherwise simplistic design. Measuring 34mm by 9mm, the case is made out of white gold, the only reference of its kind from this "second series" of Saxonia pieces, introduced in 1997. The case features the brand’s distinctive 3 layered case design - bezel, mid-case and caseback - with stylised notched lugs separately attached, which are mirror polished and bevelled.
The earliest Saxonia watches were powered by the rectangular Arkade caliber L911.3 which was used between 1994 and 1997. This was updated shortly thereafter with the circular L941.3, found in this Saxonia, the ref. 105.027. Incidentally, this very movement is still used in modern Saxonia today, more than twenty years later. 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 Saxonia, 105.027 will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.