There are many watches that we’ve named ‘iconic’ or ’emblematic’ over the years, but few modern timepieces can rival the status of the Lange 1 when it comes to high-end, elegant and finely manufactured watches. A watch that has defined the brand since its resurrection in 1994 – thanks to the joint work of Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein – and that has been made in dozens of variations over the years, it has surprisingly never been made in a perpetual calendar-only edition… until recently. Surely, there has been a tourbillon QP, but it took the Saxon brand 27 years to propose what is a classic of haute horlogerie. And the result is, without a doubt, very convincing, as we’re about to see with the stunning Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition in white gold with “salmon” pink gold dial… Yes, we love this combination at MONOCHROME!
The Lange 1…
This watch, with its unusually offset yet elegant display based on the golden ratio, its off-centred indication, its outsize date window, the all-time classic Lange 1, has been around now for 27 years with almost no evolutions – just to say how good the initial design was… The Lange 1 was part of the 4 inaugural models introduced by Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein when they officially relaunched A. Lange & Söhne, following the German reunification in 1990. Presented alongside the Saxonia, the Arkade and the Tourbillon pour le Mérite, the Lange 1 will prove to be the most enduring model, with a style that remains unrivalled and almost untouched since its presentation. Look at a 1994 Lange 1 and the model that is now in the collection, and you’ll hardly spot differences in terms of design.
Despite having a highly unusual display, A. Lange & Söhne managed to find clever solutions to create dozens of variations. Moon phase display, traveller’s watches, Tourbillon, oversized or downsized versions, automatic models… Pretty much all classic complications have been used in the Lange 1 collection. As for today’s matters, the perpetual calendar was no exception to the rule and has found its way within the collection in 2012 – while Lange’s first perpetual calendar appeared in 2001 on the Langematik Perpetual. Yet, something of importance, the QP complication was always combined with a tourbillon regulator, making this exclusive watch even more unattainable. It has been available in 5 different editions over the years – 100-piece LE in platinum with silver dial in 2012 (ref. 720.025), 15-piece LE in white gold with engraved dial ‘Handwerkskunst’ in 2013 (ref. 720.048), classic pink gold edition with silver dial in 2014 (ref. 720.032), classic white gold edition with grey dial in 2015 (ref. 720.038) and 25-piece LE in white gold with silver dial ’25th anniversary’ in 2019 (ref. 720.066).
The Perpetual Calendar being one of 3 or 4 most important complications for an haute horlogerie brand (next to the tourbillon, the minute repeater and the split-seconds chronograph), it was rather surprising not to see A. Lange & Söhne having a watch that focuses entirely on the eponymous complication before. But part of the collection presented at Watches & Wonders 2021 was this exact watch, the new Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar (and nothing else).
The A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar “Salmon”
A quick glance at the new Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar will leave no doubt on the pedigree, either when it comes to the resemblance with the Tourbillon version, or the integration of this watch within the Lange 1 family. Not only the display is entirely reminiscent of the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, but everything in this watch screams Lange 1. And that, in all fairness, is simply spectacular. Managing to create a display that both respects the original off-centred layout of the Lange 1 and integrates all the indications necessary to a QP is quite impressive. But since the Tourbillon version was already doing it perfectly, A. Lange & Söhne has decided not to take any risks and most of the elements of this perpetual calendar are back in this non-tourbillon form.
The Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar has been presented in April this year, in two different iterations. First is the model that will be part of the permanent collection. Housed in a pink gold case, it comes with an elegant dark grey dial. But, to mark the launch of this new family member, ALS has decided to treat collectors and fans of the brand with an exclusive model, the one we’re looking at today, a limited edition of 150 pieces encased in white gold and featuring a dial that is simply… stunning! And if we call it salmon for simplicity, the reality is that we’re talking about something even more desirable. But more on that later.
The Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar is one of the largest members of the Lange 1 family, sharing its diameter with the Grand Lange 1. With its 41.9mm case, it is 3.4mm larger than a classic Lange 1 (a fairly compact watch by today’s standards, at 38.5mm). Also, having to pack far more parts than a regular Lange 1 and being automatic (wise choice), the Lange 1 QP is fairly thicker than usual, at 12.1mm. A Grand Lange 1 is indeed only 8.8mm in height, but in all honesty, the diameter/height ratio on this perpetual calendar is fairly balanced and the whole watch works well. It’s not small, but being a complicated watch, it remains totally acceptable.
Other than that, the case is typical of A. Lange & Söhne. It means a domed bezel with polished finishing, straight brushed casebands, relatively strong lugs with the classic recessed line at the junction with the case, an almost flat sapphire crystal on top and the same mix of slight robustness and elegance that we’ve come to like on all ALS models. The 18k white gold metal is classic, discreet and leaves room for the dial and its bolder colour. It is worn on a dark brown alligator strap, closed by a white gold prong buckle – but I’m sure a slightly more casual smooth grey or taupe leather strap would give justice to the dial and make this version even more appealing.
Before we talk about the dial itself – sorry, I love to keep the best for the end – let’s talk about the display. When you have a watch such as the Lange 1, where most of the emblematic status comes from the actual layout of the dial, you have to be respectful. There are things you simply can’t touch and adding complications to this watch requires a bit of ingenuity. Thankfully, ALS has a few clever minds under his roof. First and foremost, the appealing asymmetry of the Lange 1, with its outsize date window at 11 o’clock, the large hours and minutes counter on the right and moon phase indicator / small seconds at 7 o’clock has been kept – remember that if you connect the centre part of each indication, you’ll obtain a perfect isosceles triangle… As you can see, this perpetual calendar opts for the display of the Daymatic model, with the hours/minutes on the right side – a solution that is more practical on a daily basis, because you can have a glance at the time even when the watch is partially hidden under your cuff.
Then comes the calendar indications. And that’s where a few tricks were needed, but the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar was already giving the answers. As for the date indication, it is a no brainer. The outsize date, a signature element of many ALS watches, was in place and is retained. The same goes for the indication of the day of the week, which was solved with the Daymatic watch – where the 7 days are replacing the power reserve gauge and used a retrograde indication to keep the centre dial clean. Moonphase? Simple, use the small seconds like in the Lange 1 Moon Phase.
And then come the two crucial indications of a QP; the month and the leap year. And both work together, as the month is displayed by a disc on the periphery of the dial (thus not interfering with the emblematic display) and the leap year window serves as a pointer to indicate the current month at 6 o’clock. And there you go; a simple, clean, intuitive perpetual calendar that shows everything you need while respecting what makes a Lange 1 a true Lange 1 – yes, it is always easier said than done… You’ll notice that the day-night indicator of the Tourbillon model is gone, but reality is that ALS has integrated it into the moon phase indicator, just like it was done for the revamped Lange 1 Moon Phase of 2017, with a partially tinted sapphire disc placed over the blue moon disc.
Ok, enough with hiding what really is the most desirable part of this limited edition model… THE glorious looking ‘salmon’ (sort of) dial. You know use here, at MONOCHROME, we love the combination of white metal cases with such pink-ish dials. We even made our first Montre de Souscription like this. And in the context of the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar, it is simply stunning. You don’t see this combination often at ALS and, when the brand does it, it does it with a certain flair, since the dial isn’t lacquered, gold-plated or galvanized, it’s actual solid pink gold with a matte, finely grained finish. Paired with discreet rhodium-plated white gold hands and indexes and a discreet touch of blue for the moon, the result is… ok, I’m probably biased, but it looks gorgeous.
The automatic Calibre L021.3
Under the hood, ALS has chosen to give this watch an automatic movement – which makes sense in a QP context, if you want to let your watch in a winder. This movement, or at least its automatic base, is derived from the calibre L021.1 of the Lange 1 Daymatic. The L021.3 has been upgraded with a newly developed winding mechanism with a unidirectional rotor in 21k gold and an additional centrifugal mass in platinum. The cam-poised balance runs at 21,600vph, and the power reserve is of 50 hours.
Corrections are done by the mean of small recessed pushers on the left side of the case. It’s a complex movement, which comprises no fewer than 621 parts and 63 jewels. As for the decoration, you’ll find everything that has made Lange respected; thin ribbings, gold chatons with blued screws, hand-polished bevels, hand-engraved balance cock and a despite having a full rotor, it is actually very nicely executed and extremely pleasant to look at. And of course, all the parts are hand-decorated and the movement is assembled twice.
Availability & Price
The A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar with White Gold and Pink Gold dial (ref. 345.056) is a limited edition of 150 pieces. It is priced at EUR 109,000 (incl. German taxes), which is objectively a lot of money for a simple perpetual calendar, even with such pedigree and stunning look.
For more details, please visit A. Lange & Söhne’s website.