This year was quite special for the magnificent manufacture A. Lange & Sohne, celebrating the 200th birthday of its founder, Ferdinand Adolph Lange (see the history of watchmaking in Glashutte here). 2 first watches had been introduced, 2 special editions dedicated to this event, the 1815 Limited Edition for the 200th Anniversary of F.A. Lange with black dial and the 1815 Limited Edition for the 200th Anniversary of F.A. Lange in honey gold. Naturally, the 1815 was the appropriate model and the pinnacle of this year of celebration is another special edition of a 1815 watch – and not the simplest one. Here is the A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, celebrating the 200th anniversary of F.A. Lange.
Throwback on the Handwerkskunst concept
At A. Lange & Sohne, one word can make a world of difference, a complicated word for non-Germans but a word with a lot of sense: Handwerkskunst. This German word for “artisanship”, is an attribute of distinction that A. Lange & Sohne has been using it since 2011 to identify special limited-edition watches whose dials and movements are endowed with rare finissage and engraving techniques. Until now, only 4 watches were allowed to sport this title:
- the Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite” Handwerkskunst in honey gold with a matching dial with tremblage engraving (made in 15 pieces in 2011).
- the Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst, with a black rhodiumed dial with tremblage engraving (made in 30 pieces in 2012) – see it in details here.
- the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst with relief and tremblage engraving (made in 15 pieces in 2013) – see it in details here.
- the Lange 1Tourbillon Handwerkskunst 20th anniversary, with black enamel dial and specifically finished movement (made in 20 pieces in 2014) – see it in details here.
- and the new one, that we’re about to introduced you…
The A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst
The A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon (normal edition) is a watch that we already talked about here, when it has been introduced in 2014, at the SIHH. In terms of high-end and complicated watches, it is certainly the most classic and discreet iteration made by A. Lange & Sohne. However, it is also a rather complicated watch with a Zero-Reset function combined with a stop-second mechanism (a first for a tourbillon). The main (visible) difference versus the model presented in 2014 is the dial. However, on the movement side, there’s also some very interesting delicacies to look at, making this watch technically identical to the normal one but visually quite special.
The tremblage finish on the A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst
As said, the easiest difference to spot on this A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is its dial. It is made of black-rhodiumed solid pink gold, decorated with a textured engraving, a technique called tremblage (coming from the French word trembler, meaning shake). The engraver who uses this technique sculpts the material with a specially crafted lining burin to achieve a uniform, fine granular structure. The relief elements on the dial, including the prominent arced brand logo and the numerals, are later polished to a mirror gloss and contrast prominently against the dark background.
Just like in the Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst or the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst, what amazes most is the depth of this engraving – and maybe even more in the case of this 1815 Tourbillon, that seems to have an even more grainy texture. If you look at other watches with frosted / tremblage engraving (like the dial of this one or the movement of this one), the A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst feels more “hand-made”, more irregular. This brings a really exclusive feel of proper “artisanship”. Furthermore, the raised and contrasting numerals (that are not applied but the result of the engraving, being part of the dial itself) make this watch extremely traditional, very antique. The design of the dial is 100% similar to the normal 2014 edition and however, the new Handwerkskunst feels totally different.
The tourbillon with Zero-Reset function and stop-second device
In classical watchmaking, a stop second mechanism is nothing exceptional. Most basic automatic movements feature such a device. However, in the case of a tourbillon, it makes things a bit more complicated. The A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst features 2 interesting mechanisms, patented by A. Lange & Sohne, on its tourbillon cage, to make this watch more precise, not in terms of chronometry but in terms of setting. In 1997, the Saxonian manufacture introduced the Zero-Reset function on some of its watches, a function that automatically sets the second hand at 0 when pulling the crown. Then, in 2008, A. Lange & Sohne introduced the stop-second device on tourbillon regulators. In 2014, with the introduction of the new edition the 1815 Tourbillon, A. Lange & Sohne paired for the first time these two devices on a tourbillon. The difficulty is that a tourbillon cage is a complex mechanism composed of many parts (more than 50 usually), that rotates on itself. Stopping it and resetting it to zero requires 2 operations. First, a fine and curved piece of metal touches the balance wheel to stop it. Then, a reset hammer actuates a heart-shaped cam positioned in the center of the tourbillon bridge and linked to the axis of the small second hand. Basically, this works like the zero-reset function of a chronograph.
The tourbillon itself is certainly classical, making a full round in 60 seconds. It is positioned at 6 on the dial with a large aperture. The bridge that holds the tourbillon and serves as axis for the small second is finished to a very delicate level, with a rounded black polishing. The cage features the usual lyra shape of the A. Lange & Sohne production. This tourbillon features a diamond end-stone of the movement side and oscillates at 21,600 vph.
The movement of the A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst
Every Handwerkskunst edition from A. Lange & Sohne features a specific execution for the movement, without the usual Glashutte ribbings. It’s also the case for this 1815 Tourbillon, however, Lange went a step further here, not only by having a specific finish but also by modifying some parts, to include more of the traditional and hand-made delicacies. The first thing that you notice is the grained / finely frosted surface of the 3/4 plate, that is still made in untreated German silver. However, compared to the 2014 normal edition, this 3/4 plate has been modified, with 3 twisted cut-offs over the barrel, circling the large screwed gold chaton.
Then, the shape of the 3/4 plate over the tourbillon has been modified with more pointy ends and more curves, allowing for more hand-made finishes. All together, we have now many internal angles. The shape of the wheels is also new, with curved spokes, something that again forces the watchmakers to over-work the details, with again many internal angles.
Finally, the tourbillon bridge (the cock) has been redesigned to be more opened. It also boasts more hand-engravings, one of the traditional features of A. Lange & Sohne watches. Even if technically identical to the classical edition, the movement of the A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst feels different, more prestigious and more desirable for real connoisseurs. The L 102.1 Calibre still features the 72 hours power reserve and its 32.6mm x 6.6mm dimensions.
The A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, on the wrist
You’ve certainly guessed it… The A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is a superb watch on the wrist. First, it is good to keep in mind the very reasonable dimensions of the 18k pink gold case, that measures only 39.5mm x 11.1mm – at least 2mm less than most of the tourbillon watches. It can thus easily be worn as a dress watch, with a tuxedo or a suit. However, this watch has more presence in real life that the dimensions let appear on paper. This Handwerkskunst edition has a superb aura, something special once worn, combining the warmth of the pink gold with the almost rough and cold (but superbly executed) engraved dial, where the contrasting and raised numerals brings a lot of relief and beauty.
The A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is a limited edition to 30 pieces, priced at 186,000 Euros including taxes. More on www.alange-soehne.com.