Many have wondered why there has not been a Lange presence in Australia. The brand has many owners and admirers here, after all. Well the simple answer is that it has not been for want of trying. After years of persistence and belief in the brand, Eric van der Griend has managed to bring them here. A few weeks after the opening of the refurbished Watches of Switzerland (Melbourne) with its new Lange area, my friend The Tailored Watch and I paid a visit.
Named after the birth year of Ferdinand A. Lange, this is the WG version (Ref.402.0260), a manually wound flyback chronograph (Calibre L951.5) with a sixty hour power reserve.
Its silver dial design was inspired by vintage pocket watches, with two slightly ‘lowered’ subsidiary dials for seconds and a 30-minute counter, and classical blued steel hands. It is a very traditional looking chronograph as befitting its naming influence, and at 39.5mm and a height of 10.8mm it is a very accessible size and sits very comfortably on the wrist.
Perhaps Lange’s most recognisable ‘look’, these are the models with the patented big date and the off-centre dial configuration that have become indelibly linked with the brand since their launch in 1994.
The off-centre dial design is not to everyone’s taste, but the dial has no real overlap of sub-dials and a good clean look. To the easterly side of the dial, following the contour of the case, is a power reserve indicator marked “Auf” and “Ab”, up and down. At 5 o’clock the subsidiary seconds.
Along the edge of the dial is “Gangreserve 72 stunden” i.e. “power reserve 72 hours”.
At 10 o’clock a pusher provides operates the outsize date. This is the YG version (Ref. 101.021) with a champagne silver dial and contains the manually wound calibre L901.0. At 38.5mm in diameter and with a height of 10mm, it is fractionally smaller than the 1815.
LANGE 1 TIME ZONE
The most talked about new addition to the Lange 1 family line, this WG (Ref. 116.039) has the manually wound Cal.L031.1 with 72 hour power reserve. The Lange 1 Time Zone is based on the original Lange 1 and has a pretty busy silver dial and rhodiumed luminous hands and markers.
In looking closer at the watch, the second time zone is indicated by a small secondary dial at 4 o’clock. At the 5 o’clock subdial there is an small indicator pointing to the outer rotating city ring, which represents the (local) time zone the wearer is currently in (and the time for which is displayed on the dial). The city ring can be advanced zone by zone by pressing the pusher at 8 o’clock. The large sub dial is for the wearer’s home time, and both of these dials have day/ night indicators. The choice of which dial for home versus local time is probably the one thing I’d change, as I intuitively look to the larger dial for my ‘current’ time. At 41.9 mm with a height of 11mm it may be larger than some people are accustomed to, but it doesn’t sit too large on the wrist.
As Lange put it, their Perpetual will be able to run for 122.6 years continuously before it will have to be corrected by one day on 28 February 2100, when our calendar year will have to be re-synchronised with the solar year. When that date comes around, all you (or perhaps not exactly you) will have to do is to press a pusher on the case.
It also has a patented zero-reset mechanism that allows the calendar displays as well as the moon-phase indication to be advanced both individually and, with one single main push-piece, collectively.
The Langmematik contains the automatic Calibre L922.1 Sax-O-Mat movement with a 21 carat gold and platinum micro-rotor and a power reserve of 46 hours. The rotor is bi-directional. The movement’s surfaces are hand decorated, its edges chamfered and polished.
Despite the complexity of the timepiece and amount of information on the dial, it is both clear and easy to read. The hands and Roman numeral markers contrast well against the silver dial. At 12 o’clock there is the classic big date. At three o’clock is the month indicator, along with an inset leap year indicator. At six o’clock is the moon phase complication and small seconds hand. Lastly, at nine o’clock is the day of the week indicator and 24hr. second time zone sub dial. All of this is encased in a 38.5mm (height 10.2mm) diameter case, a nice size for a dress watch.
RICHARD LANGE TOURBILLON “Pour le Mérite”
At first glance the Richard Lange “Pour le Mérite” appears quite different to the cleaner dials of the other Richard Langes. This is largely because its regulator dial was inspired by the design of a pocket watch crafted by master watchmaker Johann Heinrich Seyffert of Dresden in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. With its fusée-and-chain transmission, tourbillon, and stop-seconds mechanism.
This Richard Lange has a fusée-and-chain transmission as well as a tourbillon with a patented stopseconds mechanism. I guess that for watch enthusiasts, the ‘fun’ part of this watch is the fusée-and-chain part, given that tourbillons seem to be par for the course nowawdays.
The dial of the watch contains three overlapping subdials covering the hour, minutes, and seconds. The most interesting part of this is that the seconds dial is cutaway, with the tourbillon and movement visible beneath it. This is viewed in conjunction with a retractable section on the hour subdial dial to the right. When the watch is telling the time from 12 to 6 o’clock, the portion of the disc that roughly has indicators for 8 to 10 o’clock is hidden from view, giving a full view of the tourbillon. When the time is 6 o’clock, the hidden dial retractable moves into view, with VIII, IX and X pivoting into place to complete the hour scale via a switching mechanism. Once the time reaches 12 o’clock, the segment moves out of view again. Thus, the tourbillon can only be seen in its entirety between 12 and 6 o’clock.
As if this wasn’t enough, it has a patented stop-seconds mechanism. The Richard Lange Tourbillon can be halted simply by pulling the crown, allowing the time to be set to one-second accuracy.
Through the open caseback you can see the manual wind Cal. L072.1 with 36 hours power reserve. The case itself 41.9mm with a heigh of 12.2mm. It is not a small watch, but hey, this isn’t an ordinary watch.
SAXONIA AUTOMATIC (JEWELLERY VERSION)
Yes, the selection of Lange was not all about the large watches, there was also this 37mm Saxonia with a brilliant-cut diamond bezel and a discreetly elegant natural mother-of-pearl dial. It comes in pink, white and yellow gold and, at 37mm with a height of 8.4mm, it’s larger than some women are used to wearing, but not too large by any stretch. It has the Cal.L086.4 automatic movement with a 72 hour power reserve that case be seen through its sapphire caseback.
This unexpectedly stole the part of my heart that wasn’t taken up by the Zeitwerk. I have a fondness for thin time-only dress watches. There’s nowhere to hide with a watch like this. Either the balance is right, or it just seems to miss that something that can make an ultra thin watch go from being merely ordinary to perfectly proportioned and a stunning dress watch.
The Saxonia Thin comes in 18-carat pink and white gold versions. Through the sapphire-crystal caseback you can see the beautifully finished manual wind Calibre L093.1, which has a power reserve of 72 hours.
With a case diameter of 40.0 millimetres, it is a mere 5.9mm high, the thinnest watch brought out by Lange so far. This is the WG version and, given my preference for white metals, would be my choice. If you have been looking for an elegant dress watch at this level, this is worth considering.
In thinking about all of them in their entirety, I found that my pre-existing thoughts about the beautiful finishing of Langes was confirmed by the reality of looking at them. They are, by and large, surprisingly discreet watches, and whether or not any of designs are to your personal preferences, they are deeply elegant timepieces.
Many thanks to Eric and Sam for their generosity in giving us so much time with their range of Langes and sharing with us their enthusiasm and belief in the brand for Australian watch lovers.
Due to the sheer number of watches that we looked at that afternoon, there will be two more posts focusing on two particular models of note. The first will be about my first meeting with a member of my watch ‘dream list’, the Zeitwerk and whether it meet my expectations ‘in the metal’. The second will focus on the astounding Lange 31.