Originally founded in 1845 by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in Glashütte, Germany, A. Lange & Söhne produced high-end pocket watches, labeling their finest pieces with a "1A" designation. Subsequent generations of the family kept the brand thriving and oversized wristwatches for German airmen in World War II joined their portfolio of timepieces. Following the war, Walter Lange, then company lead and great-grandson of the founder, was forced to flee to West Germany in 1948 after the Soviet Union's takeover of the property. The company was revived in 1990 by Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein, and has been a member of the Richemont group since 2000. Since then, A. Lange & Söhne produces some of the most fascinating watches on the market.
A. Lange & Söhne is lauded for its extraordinary, technical designs and finishing, and is in a rare class of elite watchmakers. The brand is also among the few luxury brands to produce balance springs in-house, making it one of the most complete watchmakers in the world. Production of the part is very elaborate and complex, and they’ve been manufacturing them since 2003. Examples of significant pieces include the Zeitwerk, introduced in 2009, which is a triumph of horology with a jumping digital display. Mechanical digits (hours and minutes) are in a rare horizontal configuration with a sub-dial seconds hand and power reserve indicator finishing the dial, and a brushed German silver “time bridge” frames the digits and seconds sub-dial. Many iterations have followed with chiming mechanisms – Striking Time, Minute Repeater and Decimal Strike. A patented constant-force escapement (more precisely, a rementoir) advances the digits in less than a second, requiring a substantial amount of force to instantly turn all three digits every hour. This modern work of art continues around back with the displayed calibre L043.1, comprised of 416 parts that are beautifully, painstakingly hand-finished to a level rarely seen in watchmaking. The German silver has beveled angles, polished screw heads and slots, engraved cock bridge, graining on the levers, gears, wheels, ratchet wheel and barrel, and the remarkably finished rementoir bridge is a masterpiece in and of itself. The latest Zeitwerk variant, the 10th-anniversary edition, features a glass date ring around the perimeter, displaying the current date in red with the new calibre L043.8. The new movement also doubled the reserve from 36 to 72 hours (3 days).
The Double Split chronograph, introduced in 2004, was not only a mechanical marvel, but also contained arguably the most beautiful mechanical movement ever to grace a timepiece. The Magnus Opus among chronographs. The depth, complexity and finishing of the levers, bridges, wheels, cams and more are in a league of their own. With two rattrapante flyback hands, a world’s first, the Double Split could compare two time recordings that can differ up to 30 minutes (each of the central seconds hands has its own minute hand). A normal rattrapante chronograph is limited to one minute or less. In 2018, the Triple Split Chronograph was another first and could compare the times of two concurrent events for up to an incredible twelve hours with an accuracy of one-sixth of a second. The Triple Split simply has no equal among chronographs. With additional pieces like the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, Richard Lange Jumping Seconds and Lange 1 Tourbillon, A. Lange & Söhne is one of the rare luxury watchmakers that have mastered artistry and complexity to reach the pinnacle of horological possibilities.
In 2017, Walter Lange passed away at the age of 92. He saw the end of his brand following World War II and brought it back in 1990, over forty years later. His motto “Never stand still” will continue to inspire the company’s culture and direction in the future. Wilhelm Schmid, formerly with BMW AG, has been the company’s CEO since 2011.