A. Lange & Söhne’s SIHH 2013 was an interesting combination of low key and out there. The ‘out there’ aspect was (largely but not entirely) the rather huge model of the Grand Complication, a marvel to which most of us were, unfortunately, not privy. But more on that later… As they put it at the beginning of their presentation, Lange are going for “tradition versus ambition”, and so they did.
I thought that I’d start with my favourite of those that we were shown. It is a model that had already been released, but SIHH was its full launch, and it was my first opportunity to see it. I liked it even more ‘in the metal’. The Grand Lange 1 Lumen, the first time that Lange has allowed us to see the mechanism of their outsized date through a semi-transparent sapphire crystal, is in a very comfortable 40.9mm (the ‘Grand’ part of the name, as opposed to the 38.5mm of the Lange 1) and 9.8mm high Pt case and contains the manually wound Lange calibre L095.2 with a 72 hour power reserve.
It is an interesting modernisation of the Grand Lange 1, and at its release, left some people uncertain about the use of luminosity in such a classic design. The luminous material is used for the Roman numerals, hour markers, hands, and power reserve indicator. They manage to be ‘charged’ through the semi-transparent dial despite its darkness, because the sapphire crystal sections of the dial are treated with a special coating that blocks most of the visible spectrum of light. For the invisible UV light spectrum, however, the coating does not represent a barrier, so the UV radiation can ‘lume’ the watch up and the date is luminous when it appears in the aperture. The watch is platinum, but the outer ring and surfaces of the hour, minute and seconds displays are blackened silver.
This is simply a very cool watch. Not to everyone’s tastes, perhaps, especially for Lange classicists, but even if your first instinct is to wonder ‘why lume?’, just let that thought go and sit with the Lumen for awhile… It comes in a limited edition of 200 with a price of 59,000 EUR.
Alongside the Lumen was the Grande Lange 1 in white gold with black dial, rhodiumed hands and with a diameter of 40.9 mm and height of 8.8 mm. It is priced at 33,500 EUR and is an addition to the platinum, pink, and white gold GL 1 options.
Next up were the new 1815 models. The first one was the 1815 UP/DOWN. For those who don’t know, it is named after the birth year of Ferdinand A. Lange and the brand’s UP/DOWN power-reserve indicator. For the new 1815 UP/ DOWN, the power reserve is indicated on the left-hand subsidiary dial. It is in a 39mm case that is 8.7mm high, a power reserve of 72 hours. The bezel is slightly different from the previous ones, it is 1mm smaller, and the power reserve is greater. It comes in three metals and the prices are : 23,000 EUR (PG), 24, 000 EUR (WG), 22,000 EUR (YG).
Another 1815 model that was presented was the Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar. A 41.9mm case (14.7mm thick) worth of split-seconds chronograph and perpetual calendar. Oh, and it’s also the first Lange without an outsized date format, using a pointer (left hand side sub dial) instead. There is a leap year indicator on the right, the moonphase at the bottom, and it’s just a very classical looking piece with an open caseback so you can see Lange work its magic. It’s a manual wind with a power reserve of 42 hours and available in pink gold for 160,000 EUR and white gold for 180,000 EUR.
Sticking to the calendar theme, the 38.5mm sized Saxonia Annual Calendar is now in platinum to accompany the pink and white gold versions. The features are the date, month, day of the week and moonphase and the watch recognises which months have 30 or 31 days, the date only needs to be changed once a year between February and March (of course). This new platinum version has a rhodium silvered dial and hands.
The pièce de résistance was also the timepiece that only a select few got to see. For the rest of us, we had to be satisfied with the behemoth version at the booth’s entrance, as shown at the start of this post. The Grand Complication has a grande sonnerie, perpetual calendar, and a split-seconds chronograph with flying seconds.
The five-part enamel dial uses gold hands for the calendar display, with the subsidiary dial on the right-hand side indicating the date, the one on the left the day of the week, and the upper one the month as well as the leap year. The red ‘4’ marks the beginning of each leap year. The small blued hands and the centre-hand pair are to the chronograph-rattrapante function. The minute scale in the upper subsidiary dial shows the stopped minutes, the blue centre hand the intermediate times in seconds, and the gold centre hand the final stopped time. The flying seconds in the lower subsidiary dial indicates fractional times to an accuracy of one-fifth of a second. The moon-phase display is located behind it. All of this will be in a 50mm sized whopper of a case and produced in a limited edition of just six, with one made (by a single watchmaker), per year.
Take good care of that watchmaker.
Happily, as I blogged last year, the situation in Australia is different to what it was a year ago, as we now have a Lange authorised dealer here, so if anything takes our fancy, fellow Australians, you now have somewhere local to go and place an order. Even for the Grand Complication, if you have 1.92 million Euros to spare and are prepared to wait for a little while.