Twenty-five years ago, a phoenix arose from its ashes – one of the most spectacular phoenixes Saxony has ever seen. His name was A. Lange & Söhne. To mark its resurrection as a new company, the brand introduced four watches, and among them was a watch that would go on to become the cornerstone of the collection, a watch of great elegance, distinction and originality. This watch was the Lange 1 and today A. Lange & Söhne celebrates its 25th anniversary with a superb limited edition (which will be presented at the SIHH 2019).
The Lange 1 since 1994
Almost 25 years ago – 24 October 1994 – the German watch brand A. Lange & Söhne introduced its very first collection of watches. That was just four years after Ferdinand A. Lange’s great-grandson, Walter Lange, together with Günter Blümlein (at the time the managing director of IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre) had relaunched the brand, shortly after the reunification of Germany. Lange Uhren GmbH was founded on 7 December 1990 in Glashütte and the A. Lange & Söhne brand was registered worldwide.
That goal was to put Germany back on the map of high-end watchmaking and four new watches were presented on 24 October 1994. Among these four timepieces, the Lange I (ref. 101.021) best defined the new direction of A. Lange & Söhne and in time would become the iconic face of the Saxon brand.
The Lange 1 was rather special, with a combination of elegance and audacity, mainly due to the layout of the dial with off-centred indications – a design that has remained unchanged for 25 years (and counting) – with an off-centred hour/minute dial, a small seconds subdial, a big date (outsize date as Lange named it) and a large power reserve indicator. The idea was that none of the indications should overlap one another. And there was the famous arched signature including the “Glashütte i/SA” – “i/SA” being the abbreviation for “in Saxony”.
All indications were positioned according to the harmonious proportions of the golden section. The off-centred hour/minute dial featured applied hour indexes (Roman numerals for the 12, 3, 6 and 9), the hour and minute hands were sword-shaped, and even the power reserve indicator was sword-shaped, only the seconds hand was a thin needle with a beautiful counterbalance.
Twenty-five years later, the watch with the unmistakable face has become an icon, a horological classic. Twenty-five years later it is still being crafted, virtually unchanged. Twenty-five years later its popularity has converted the Lange 1 into the cornerstone of a watch family composed of nine models (see above), which come in various case diameters, with manual-winding and self-winding versions, with various added complications and in various metals. And of course, there are special models and limited editions – and there’s a new one today!
The Lange 1 Edition 25th Anniversary
For the 25th anniversary of the inaugural collection and of the iconic Lange 1, the brand introduces a limited edition of 250 pieces with several updates on the classic version. If the mechanics and the overall concept remain the same, this special version comes with a new colour scheme and embellishments on the movement and the caseback.
Note: A. Lange & Söhne indicates in its press release that this limited edition of the Lange 1 “marks the kick-off of the 25th Anniversary series”… So don’t be surprised if more special watches are launched this year – re-editions of the Arkade, Saxonia and Tourbillon Pour Le Mérite could potentially follow.
First of all, the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Edition 25th Anniversary features a new dial. Presented in a classic argenté (silvered) finishing, the solid silver dial now reveals recessed matte areas and raised borders around the sub-dials and indications – while the standard Lange 1 has a flat dial. On the other hand, the signature “unbalanced” display remains untouched.
Contrasting with the silvered background are deep blue printings, tracks, indexes, logos and numerals. There are no more applied hour markers, these have been printed directly on the dial and are read with matching blued-steel hands and, in keeping with the colour scheme, even the numerals of the date window are blue. With this more lively colour scheme, the watch comes across as less austere than the traditional white gold edition of the Lange 1 (ref. 191.039). Still, the result remains discreet – something that we’ve come to expect from Lange. The blue accents are paired with a matching blue alligator strap with silver stitchings.
The case is based on the traditional 38.5mm diameter of the Lange 1 and is presented in 18K white gold. No evolution either on the finishing, which still combines polished surfaces with brushed casebands. The specifications reveal a case thickness of 10.7mm, which is almost 1mm more than the standard model (at 9.8mm).
The reason for this significant increase can be seen on the back of the watch, which features a hinged caseback – or “cuvette” (something that Lange already used on the 1815 “Cuvette” Limited Edition). This reference to dust covers found in pocket watches and featured on the Lange 1 is crafted in white gold. The central engraving depicts the Lange headquarters that date back to 1873, the names of Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein, and a relief engraving of the inscription “25 YEARS LANGE 1”.
When opened, the dust cover reveals the calibre L121.1, which has been the engine of the Lange 1 since 2015 – marking a significant improvement over the older, 1994 movement. Now featuring an in-house balance and hairspring, and a precisely jumping outsize date display with newly shaped bridges (still with the signature 3/4 plate), this hand-wound movement, specific to the Lange 1, boasts 72 hours of power reserve and comprises 368 components.
The decoration is superb – as in all Lange watches – and shows hand-polished bevels, thin Glashütte ribbings and 8 screwed gold chatons. To mark the uniqueness of this 25th-anniversary edition, the cock (the small bridge that holds the balance in place) has a specific engraving with the Lange outsize date – with a “25” that symbolises the jubilee. All the engravings are filled in blue to recall the dial.
The A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Edition 25th Anniversary reference 191.066 will be produced in an edition of 250 watches. It will be exhibited at the SIHH 2019. Price will be EUR 43,700 with deliveries expected in January 2019. More details at www.alange-soehne.com.