It is hard to believe that Lange’s most daring watch, the Zeitwerk, was launched back in 2009. Several variants have been added to the collection since, all with chiming complications – Striking Time, Minute Repeater, Decimal Strike. On the occasion of its tenth anniversary, Lange’s first mechanical wristwatch with a precisely jumping digital display is endowed with a new manufacture calibre featuring a surprising extra function – and this time, it isn’t a chiming complication. Instead, a glass ring date has been added to what is now named the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Date.
With the presentation of the Zeitwerk in 2009, A. Lange & Söhne kicked off a new era in timekeeping and design. The innovative concept of the first watch with constant-force escapement and precisely jumping digital displays – that indicate the hour and minute with jumping numerals – has been followed by multiple iterations, which all shared a love for music: the Striking Time is a watch that strikes the hours and quarters in passing; the Minute Repeater is specific for being a decimal minute repeater; and the Decimal Strike strikes full hours and intervals of 10 minutes.
Ten years after its introduction, Lange’s mechanical digital watch welcomes a newly designed movement that incorporates an additional function: a ring-shaped date display, perfectly in harmony with the design of the dial, that circles the unique Zeitwerk time bridge.
First, in terms of overall shape and style, the Zeitwerk is still the watch we all know and appreciate. Its case measures 44.2mm in diameter (the same as the Decimal and Striking) with a 12.3mm height. It is crafted in 18k white gold and secured to the wrist with a brown alligator strap.
Now to the novelties. The A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Date receives a new complication in the form of a glass ring date with printed numerals from 1 to 31 circling the dial. The current date is displayed in red. To achieve this effect, a small colour segment beneath the date ring performs one step exactly at midnight. So in the course of a month, it moves around the dial one full revolution. The date display can be adjusted with the corrector at 8 o’clock; the switching impulse is generated when it is released.
Adding a date to the watch was in fact quite challenging. The large numeral discs and the prominent dial with the time bridge, both signature elements of the Zeitwerk, make it impossible to integrate a conventional date display, much less the typical Lange outsize date. That is why the development team needed a totally new design approach. The incorporation of the date also raised another issue. Since it calls for a time setting that is accurate to 24 hours, it would take too long to adjust the time via the crown – minute by minute. This is why the Zeitwerk Date includes an additional button at 4 o’clock, used exclusively to advance the hour indication.
The integration of the hour button involved considerable design modifications. To enable the correction to work independently of the switching cycles of the movement, a clutch uncouples the hour ring from the jumping numerals mechanism each time the button is pressed. The switching impulse is generated when the button is released.
For this reason, the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Date incorporates a newly designed movement with clearly organised movement architecture, calibre L043.8. What remains is the patented constant-force escapement that handles two tasks. As a remontoir device, it powers the balance with a uniform amount of force for the entire running duration. Additionally, it delivers the one-per-minute impulse for switching the three-disc jumping numerals display. Also, a massive improvement compared to previous Zeitwerk watches, the power reserve has doubled, from 36 hours to 72 hours (or 3 days).
The movement, with its engraved ratchet wheel and the filigreed remontoir bridge, is still superb to contemplate, with a lavish finissage of the 512 parts – including hand-polished bevels, Glashütte ribbings, blued screws, polished countersinks or screwed gold chatons. All of this can be seen through the sapphire caseback.
The new A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Date is part of the SIHH 2019 novelties. Its price will be EUR 89,000, with deliveries starting in June 2019. More details at www.alange-soehne.com.