In 2020, after 15 years of production and many variations, the Lange 1 Time Zone received a highly anticipated update. It was introduced in three different versions: cases crafted from yellow gold (limited to 100), pink gold, and white gold, with champagne, argenté and black dials, respectively. This new model came with a fresh calibre and featured a more organised and streamlined indication layout while retaining its fundamental design elements. This summer, A. Lange & Söhne introduced a platinum Lange 1 Time Zone version with a rhodium-coloured dial, prompting us to conduct a thorough review of what has to be called the traveller’s stealth.
In October next year, A. Lange & Söhne will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original Lange 1 watch’s introduction to the public (24 October 1994). In a concise span, this stunning timepiece became an instantly recognisable and coveted item, essentially becoming the face of A. Lange & Söhne and lending its name to an extensive collection known for its iconic design and global acclaim.
In 2005, as if to strengthen its bond with a rapidly growing number of loyal customers across the globe, the Saxon manufacture unveiled the Lange 1 Time Zone in a coordinated worldwide launch with a simultaneous presentation via video links and local events across cities around the world, highlighting the timepiece’s global nature. The original Lange 1 Time Zone offered a distinctive interpretation of a traveller’s timepiece, featuring a city ring and home and local time displays. Encased in a 41.9mm frame and powered by a hand-wound, twin-barrel calibre L031.1, the first-generation Lange 1 Time Zone (explained with all other versions of the Lange 1 here) maintained the harmonious dial layout with power reserve indicator and signature date, staying true to the Lange 1 design principles. It skillfully provided essential information, but towards 2020, it started to appear excessively busy and overly elaborate.
Despite the city ring, the Lange 1 Time Zone was not categorised as a world timer but instead as a sophisticated dual-time watch. It featured a larger home time dial at 9 o’clock and a smaller second time zone sub-dial at 5 o’clock, each with its own day/night indicator sub-dial. While functional and logical, the slightly confusing position of these day/night indicators left room for improvement, as demonstrated by the re-designed 2020 version of the Lange 1 Time Zone.
Between its initial introduction in 2005 and the 2020 update, the Lange 1 Time Zone saw the release of numerous editions, both limited and standard, with customisation options, including variations in city ring, case material, and dial colour. Editions were dedicated to cities such as Maastricht, Singapore, Buenos Aires, and Kuala Lumpur. Notable examples include the 2016 Dresden edition featuring 100 pieces in a honey gold case with a silvered dial, the exquisite Lange 1 25th-anniversary Time Zone model in white gold with a silvered dial and blue accents, and the Concorso Villa d’Este prize watches in white gold with hunter cases, introduced annually since 2012 when A. Lange & Söhne began its partnership with the prestigious classic car event on Lake Como. A Time Zone edition in white gold with luminous hour, minute, power-reserve hands, and luminescent hour and power reserve markers offered a truly special touch. All 2005-2019 Lange 1 Time Zone models shared a case that was 3.4mm wider and 1.2mm thicker than the standard Lange 1 case to accommodate the city ring and its mechanism, housing the L031.1 movement composed of 417 intricate components based on the original Lange 1’s L901 movement.
The 2020 Update and the new Platinum Lange 1 Time Zone
In 2020, when the second-generation Lange 1 Time Zone with a new movement was unveiled, the changes to the dial’s design garnered widespread applause for their significant improvements. To a greater extent than its predecessor, the new Time Zone model exemplified the striking purity of the Lange 1 series, showcasing a cleaner, more elegant, better-balanced, yet more functional dial.
One notable improvement was the relocation of the day/night indicators’ discs, featuring coloured sections (lines, really) to mark the time between 6 pm and 6 am, to rotate once every 24 hours around the pinions supporting the hands (coaxial). This adjustment significantly enhanced legibility and intuitive readability.
Another new feature was the re-designed and more prominent golden arrow at 5 o’clock to indicate the reference city for the set time zone, now with a small aperture to convey information about whether daylight saving time (DST) was observed in that location (but not saying when DST is in effect, as dates for DST transitions can vary from city to city). If the aperture displayed red, it indicated that the city followed daylight saving time, requiring you to add one hour. Conversely, a white background in the aperture signified that the city adhered to standard time throughout the year, with indications made possible with coding on the underside of the city ring.
One more noteworthy change on the dial points to a modification to the underlying movement. The first-generation Time Zone proudly informed it had dual mainspring barrels, with Doppelfederhaus written in capital letters on the dial. In contrast, the new version features a single barrel that provides a 72-hour power reserve, and the text now reads Gangreserve 72 Stunden. Despite that change, the power reserve was maintained at an identical level.
Additionally, an aesthetically significant dial modification involves using thinner fonts, which has proven effective in enhancing the Lange 1’s appearance since the model was updated a few years ago. Another subtle yet visually impactful alteration, especially noticeable on the lighter dials, is the change in colour for the dots that separate the location names on the switchable city ring. Instead of being black, they are now a subtle shade of grey. This detail may not catch the eye immediately, but it emphasises the overall beauty of the 2020 Time Zone from A. Lange & Söhne.
Before delving into the intricacies of the new Lange 1 Time Zone movement, let’s take a moment to examine the 2023 platinum edition of the watch that prompted this review. The new Lange 1 Time Zone in 950 platinum case with a rhodié dial is as beautiful as ever. The case maintains the signature A. Lange & Söhne aesthetics, measuring 41.9mm in diameter with a svelte 10.9mm thickness. It spans 49.7mm from lug to lug and has a 22mm space between them, consistent with previous editions. The platinum case follows the brand’s classic three-step construction, combining various finishing techniques to create a striking and harmonious contrast. While the caseback and the domed bezel are polished to a high sheen, the mid-case is satin finished. The gracefully curved lugs and the left-side bevelled pushers, seamlessly integrated into the overall case design, feature a combination of polished and brushed surfaces.
The rhodium-coloured dial harmoniously complements the case’s hue. It, along with the rhodium-plated gold appliques and hands, contributes significantly to the beloved monochromatic aesthetic cherished by Lange enthusiasts. The combination of this dial colour with a platinum case makes it essentially a Stealth Time Zone, in reference to one specific version of the classic Lange 1 that has long been a favourite of collectors. The city ring, which lends the Time Zone the appearance of a world timer, includes a GMT mark in red. Aside from the potential appearance of the DST (Daylight Saving Time) indicator, there is little additional colour on the dial. However, this tiny bit of red adds a nice touch, reminding us that travel is indeed an adventure.
As in previous iterations, the large off-centre dial with Roman numerals (and the very small seconds display) is exclusively designated for home time. When you adjust the home time using the crown, hands on the primary large dial and the smaller local (time zone) dial with Arabic numerals move in unison. Therefore, it’s recommended to set the home time on the Lange 1 Time Zone when the time zone aligns with your home city or location.
You need to pull the crown to the second position to make synchronised adjustments to the time in both time zones. The crown, conveniently sized, is easy to operate. If you press and hold the time-zone correction button, the hour hand on the zone-time dial will stop in its current position. This lets you independently set the new reference time without affecting the zone time. If this adjustment results in the need to correct the date linked to the home time, simply press the date correction button at 10 o’clock. To “simply” operate the Time Zone, we have a not-so-simple movement, which finally brings us to the inner works.
The heart of the new platinum Lange 1 Time Zone and its earlier counterparts is the manually wound L141.1 movement. This intricate marvel comprises 448 components, oscillates at a frequency of 3Hz (21,600 vibrations/hour), and boasts a remarkable 3-day power reserve when fully wound. The transparent caseback provides an awe-inspiring view of this Saxon watchmaking expertise and artistry exemplar.
The calibre L141.1 movement is meticulously finished and decorated in true Lange tradition. The untreated German silver three-quarter plate showcases distinctive decorative techniques, including screwed gold chatons, heat-blued screws, Glashütte ribbing, and a flat polished swan’s neck adjuster. Notably, it features not one but two hand-engraved cocks – one for the balance and another for the intermediate wheel. Observing the movement, you can spot parts of the time zone mechanism above the plate.
Upon its launch, Lange provided a comprehensive technical guide to elucidate the operation of this 67-component intricate correction mechanism, which is actuated by a single pusher, simultaneously advancing the city ring, time zone hour hand, and day/night disc.
When you press the pusher at 8 o’clock, the corrector button transmits the motion to the four-toothed corrector star, firmly connected to the corrector wheel. This wheel engages with the gear rim of the city ring, causing it to advance by one step with each push. This ring motion is then conveyed to the city correction pinion and the time zone correction wheel. The city correction pinion and wheel are briefly engaged during the switching process, after which they disengage. The rotary motion of the correction wheel, via the day and night indicator wheel and an intermediate wheel, triggers the twelve-toothed hour-wheel pipe to advance by one tooth. This action, in turn, causes the zone-time hour hand to move forward by one hour.
The new Lange 1 Time Zone remarkable calibre L141.1 undoubtedly deserves a deeper dive into its intricacies and merits. Still, since the introduction in 2020, this new movement from A. Lange & Söhne has received a fair share of media attention, MONOCHROME included, and I feel it’s best, for brevity’s sake, to wrap up with some final thoughts.
The new A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Time Zone is a coveted watch (price is upon request, but I hear it is around EUR 70,000, taxes excluded). Among the four Lange 1 Time Zone references introduced, the platinum edition stands out as a personal favourite, surpassing the white gold and black dial variant (136.029), contrary to popular opinion.
Its monochromatic appearance doesn’t fit the conventional definition of understated luxury or stealth wealth; it soars above mundane categorisations. Perhaps one of the most sophisticated two time zone watches, Lange 1 Time Zone is a perfectly harmonious blend of beauty and functionality, created in the spirit of travel and precision, a true Lange masterpiece, an exciting mechanical wonder adapted to modern times. A second time zone indication is one of any watch’s most valuable added functions. It has been so since the International Meridian Conference in 1884, at which the current system of standard time zones was adopted. Glashütte watchmakers embraced the fixing of a prime meridian and a universal day and soon began to offer pocket watches with two separately adjustable time displays. A. Lange & Söhne continues this legacy, showcasing the brand’s commitment to mechanical and aesthetic perfection. And the Lange 1 Time Zone is a testament to the brand’s ethos – never standing still, never ceasing to innovate and captivate the horological world.
For more information, please visit alange-soehne.com.