One of the most advanced watches of our day, A.Lange & Söhne’s Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is the only watch in the world to combine a jumping numeral display with a decimal minute repeater. Five years after its debut, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is revisited in 2020 in a 30-piece limited white gold edition with a blue dial.
The first Zeitwerk model, introduced in 2009, featured two apertures for the jumping minutes and hours displayed horizontally. Its unusual digital format immediately captured the attention of watch enthusiasts for its legible and highly intuitive reading of the time from left to right. Revisited a year later with a smoked sapphire crystal to reveal the movement and nicknamed the Zeitwerk Lumen, a Zeitwerk Striking Time model was launched in 2011 offering quarter-hour strikes on demand.
Seeing and Hearing Simultaneously
However, the big news came in 2015 with the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater. The novelty here was the incorporation of a decimal repeater, a rare complication mastered by very few watchmakers. Taking into account the digital display of the Zeitwerk, Lange decided to incorporate a minute repeater that chimed the time in exactly the same format.
The Zeitwerk digital display is composed of one aperture on the left for the hours with a single disc running from 1-12 and a second aperture on the right for the minutes indicated on two discs, one for the 10-minutes and the other for single minutes from 00-59. Two displays, three different discs. What is so particular about this watch is that the repeater emulates this date format perfectly. If it is 07:52, for example, the hammer on the left (visible on the lower part of the dial) strikes the low-pitched gong seven times. This is followed by five double tones representing the elapsed ten-minute intervals followed by the right-hand hammer with two high strikes.
The sophisticated striking mechanism is activated with a pusher at 10 o’clock. This is also an unusual feature because most minute repeaters are activated with a slide. However, since the power for the striking mechanism is delivered by the mainspring barrel, there is no need for a slide to tension a separate spring. This also means that there is no large lateral opening in the case which could cause acoustic disruption. Another advantage of a pusher over a slide is that a pusher can be sealed and the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is water-resistant to 30m.
Originally presented in a platinum case, Lange now introduces its Zeitwerk Minute Repeater in a white gold case.
Case and Dial
The case is identical in size and finish to the first platinum model; it measures 44.2mm and has a height of 14.1mm with polished and brushed surfaces. The crown is positioned at 2 o’clock and opposite, at 10 o’clock, is the pusher for the decimal repeater. The large white gold case is said to deliver a reverberant warm sound. More on this once we do a hands-on.
A deep-blue dial provides a high contrast background for the hour and minute displays. A rhodium-plated German silver time bridge houses the date apertures and small seconds. Above the horizontal display of the time is a recessed semi-circular power reserve indicator with a white track and a small red dot (12-hour mark). When the power reserve of the watch dips under 12 hours, the striking mechanism is blocked. The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is equipped with countless safety features to prevent damage to the movement, an issue covered in detail in Frank’s 2015 review.
The power reserve indicator is counterbalanced with the blue small seconds counter placed at 6 o’clock. The polished gongs and the black-polished hammers can be seen on either side of the German silver bridge on the dial.
Set deep within their separate apertures, the jumping hours and minutes perform a synchronised jump on the hour. Thanks to the patented jumping numerals mechanism, all three discs jump forward in one simultaneous jump at the dawn of every new hour. The numerals are large and set against a white background to enhance legibility.
The deep-blue colour of the dial is echoed on the blue, hand-stitched leather strap with its deployant clasp in white gold.
Manufacture calibre L043.5
The manual-winding in-house calibre L043.5 is composed of 771 parts and completed by hand with extreme care. The hallmark three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver is decorated with classic Glashütte ribbing while the balance cock and escape wheel cock are hand-engraved with a floral motif. Three of the 93 jewels and three are set in screwed gold chatons. Fitted with a lever escapement, the balance spring is in-house, the frequency is 18,000vph and the power reserve is of 36 hours when fully wound and the striking mechanism is not activated.
Availability and price
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater (Ref. 147.028F) in white gold is a limited edition of 30 pieces. Its retail price is EUR 449,000 and it will be available exclusively in the 33 A. Lange & Söhne boutiques worldwide. For more information, please visit alange-soehne.com.