Apr 29, 2017
The watchmaking industry is replete with underwhelming, if not downright futile attempts to revive heritage brands.
A. Lange & Söhne stands out as the shining example of how to achieve a horological resurrection the right way. Proof was to be found at SIHH.
Exhibit number one presented in evidence was the latest selection of A. Lange & Söhne Pour le Mérite super-complication watches. The A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Mérite combines the five complications most hallowed in horology: the perpetual calendar, chronograph, rattrapante, fusée-chain and tourbillon features. All come together neatly in a 43mm case only 16.6mm thick.
Also introduced at SIHH was the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Decimal Strike, which chimes on the hour and every 10 minutes after. Another debutant was a new annual calendar for the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 collection, containing a new calibre. The appearance is more subdued than before, the timepiece lacking the usual large date windows. A simple push changes the date indicated, making the piece easier to keep properly adjusted than its predecessor.
The watchmaker showed off a few pieces that the buying public will find more easily accessible. These pieces embody the brand’s Teutonic style while omitting the frightening complications. The manufacture takes a pop at the market for lady’s watches by adapting two of its classic timepieces. The A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia now comes in a 35mm case with a mother-of-pearl dial, while the Little Lange 1 Moon Phase has shrunk and acquired more adornment.
As a watchmaking entity, A. Lange & Söhne traces its roots back to the birth of Ferdinand A. Lange in 1815. Between Lange’s debut as a watchmaker until the early 1900s, the manufacture was the horological stalwart of Saxony and Germany as a whole, making technical innovations and design flourishes which came to define the Saxon watchmaking tradition.
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The momentum of A. Lange & Söhne was brought to an abrupt halt by the bombing of its main production facility on the last night of the Second World War. The post-war partition of Germany left Saxony living under communism, precluding any immediate hope that the manufacture would regain its former glory.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 lifted the barrier to the resurgence of the watchmaker, allowing the reincarnation of the A. Lange & Söhne brand as we know it today.
A. Lange & Söhne regained its former glory and added to it. Any aficionado of horology worth his or her salt would rank A. Lange & Söhne among the top five watchmakers still in business for its mechanical prowess and finishing. Better still, while championing high horology, the watchmaker continues to produce more accessible timepieces that give some of the biggest bang for your buck.
The myriad novelties A. Lange & Söhne presented at SIHH show the rare ability of the watchmaker to satisfy a wide range of appetites without abandoning the highest horological ideals. That is how to achieve a horological resurrection the right way. I rest my case.