Today, the collector’s Series is about Monochrome’s new contributing editor, Peter. Most likely you’ve already read some of his stories; Peter will mainly focus on review and events. He has a special talent for event reports as he knows how to make you feel if you were with him at the event he’s covering for Monochrome. After a long and fruitful career, Peter now has more time to focus on his passions for photography and watches and we’re proud that he does joined our team. Today he’s going to tell us when and where his journey into the world of watches started… and it’s with the highly desirable A. Lange & Söhne 1815 that he bought in 2001.
For starters, Peter, can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I was born and grown in Leiden, Netherlands. I lived in various cities, including Princeton, NJ (USA). My education is in Information Technology and Business Economics. Currently I assist organisations and people in increasing performance by sharing knowledge about the brain, amongst others via an app. I used to be a collector of watches but trimmed it down to a very modest size. Now I focus on writing about and photographing watches. I recently joined the editor crew of Monochrome.
So Peter, when did you first get into watches?
I felt in love when I bought the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 in 2001. I did not have a clue back then about the history of Lange, the technical details and the passion of the people behind these watches. I was struck by the beauty of the design and the movement. Up till then, my daily watch was a quartz Seiko World Timer with alarm. I don’t remember which model it was but I really liked the functionality for traveling, which I did frequently. I liked playing with it. I also had a quartz diving watch with dive time measurement. Frankly, I forgot which brand it was.
What is it you appreciate about watches?
First, the incredible reliability and precision of mechanical movements and the skills required to build these often highly complicated movements. Second, the passion of the people behind the watches: the designers, the polishers, the CDC operators, the watchmakers, and the supporting staff. But also the passion of collectors for their watches. I am impressed when I hear Alexandre Peraldi, chief designer of Baume & Mercier, speak about design and his team; when I hear about the years of training and experience required to perfectly polish a bridge; when I see a watchmaker’s dedication to assemble and regulate a movement or to place the escapement; when I list to collectors who speak with passion about their collection and hunt for a rare vintage watch.
Can you tell us a bit more about your A. Lange & Söhne 1815?
It symbolizes the ultimate functional, understated dress watch with beautiful finishing. To me, simplicity is the art of leaving things out instead of adding things. When you look at the dial, everything contributes to its function: reading the time. The legibility is superb; the geometry is perfect. You can set the time precisely and winding is buttery soft. Finishing is perfect. When you use a loupe and look at the numerals, the hands, the finishing of the movement, you see perfection and harmony. To me, the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 is a functional symphony. Some may say that is small with its 36mm but I like the size. In addition, the watch reminds me of the revival of the brand after the fall of the iron curtain and of the men who took the risk: Mr. Walter Lange, ancestor of the founder of A. Lange & Söhne, and Mr. Blümlein, then CEO of IWC. Their passion and belief enabled the rebirth of the watch industry in Glashütte.
Why this model in particular and why not another one in the Lange collection?
I prefer simplicity and functionality in design and movement. I like the Arabic numerals of military style watches. There is no doubt that I like other Lange watches for their technical features or movement design (such as the Datograph) but I do not like busy dials.
Do you tend to buy watches over brands?
Initially I focused on A. Lange & Söhne and IWC – but mostly on IWC with respect to buying watches. After learning more about watches, brands and technical features, I now prefer watches over brands. There are so many wonderful watches on the market from independent watchmakers and from the bigger watch conglomerates. As a writer and photographer of watches, I focus on what makes a watch unique and desirable, independent of my personal preference and independent of the brand.
Can you tell us more about the movement of your A. Lange & Söhne 1815?
The watch (ref. 206.032) houses the manually wound Calibre L941.1 with the typical Glashütte characteristics: three-quarter plate crafted from untreated German silver and embellished with perfect ribbing, gold chatons holding the jewels and secured by blued screws each. The escapement wheel is polished on both sides and has shoulderless pivots between the endstones, to minimise friction. The upper one, set in a gold chaton, is held by a black-polished steel endpiece. In addition, the movement has a patented whiplash precision index adjuster, the first device of its kind that allows the balance to be set to the exact center position relative to the fork. The entire beat adjustment mechanism is mounted on a hand-engraved balance cock. Power reserve is 45 hours, the shock-protected screw balance beats 21,600 times an hour. I have spent countless hours looking at the beauty of the finishing and the design.
How does it fit with your lifestyle?
I have never thought about my own lifestyle. Like most other people, I do not like to be put in a box. When I buy a watch I am looking for a unique feature, either technical or design-wise. I do not buy a watch because celebrity so-and-so has one. But there are some things that may be linked to my view on life. I prefer understatement in function and design. I respect people who strive for excellence. I admire class in people, which I do associate with behavior rather than social status. To me, the Lange 1815 fits that combination of understatement and class.
How much wrist time does it get?
I do not have a specific pattern. I may wear it for days after another or not for weeks. Sometimes I do not wear a watch.
What sort of day/event do you find yourself strapping it on?
No particular day. I wear it during the weekend and during work.
Do you ever consider what a watch says about you? and if so what do you think your 1815 says about you?
That I combine intelligence, modesty, and class? Haha. Seriously, I am not sure how to answer that question. Probably the watch reflects my preference for understatement, functionality and class. I leave it up to others to assess how that fits with my personality.
Do you seek advice of anyone before buying?
Yes! But usually only for vintage watches. it starts with a specific watch I have in mind and then I reach out to expert collectors. There are so many very knowledgeable people around the world who are happy to help and advise, also about fairness of prices.
What (if anything) have you got your eye on next?
I am still mulling on that. The IWC Portugieser Jubilee in red gold, launched in 1993 and the IWC Portugieser Pisa, both featuring a beautiful six bridges hand wound movement, are high on my list.
Can a collector ever be fully satisfied with his/her collection?
Collecting quickly becomes an addiction when you start collecting. You always want more and more. Seasoned collectors are more patient and careful. They may always look for another great watch but choose them more carefully and patiently. The possibility to write about watches, to see and photograph watches satisfy my personal desires.
What piece of advice would you give to someone considering starting a collection?
If I have to mention one lesson, it would be one taught by a great mentor and person, who said that “a watch comes to you when it is meant for you”.
Generally speaking, I would say to enjoy the watches you have, not the ones that you don’t have. Buy the watches you like, not because you think they are collectable as you might be wrong. Enjoy the hunt, also when it takes years. Read before you buy. Consult experts for vintage watches. Sleep on it before you decide. And as someone with the Dutch nationality (I won’t use the expression “being Dutch”), I should say look for possibilities to get some rebates, but also to build relationships, also with watch dealers.
Is the 1815 a keeper or do you see yourself selling it?
I am pretty sure I will never sell the 1815 if I don’t have to as it helped me enter the world of watches. But…never say never.
What three words first come to mind when you think of your A. Lange & Söhne 1815?
Understatement, class, perfection.