In January 2017, one of the greatest and humblest men I had the chance to meet, Mister Walter Lange (1924-2017), founder of A. Lange & Söhne, sadly passed away. In honour of its founder, the Saxon manufacture is enlarging its 1815 collection with the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange”. Inside this watch is a surprising and unexpected complication: a stoppable jumping seconds hand that dates back to a 150-year-old invention conceived by Ferdinand Adolph Lange. There will be three limited editions in yellow, rose and white gold, and one piece unique in stainless steel… all four are future collector’s watches, and the steel version will is the grail!
An Homage to Herr Walter Lange and his contribution to the German Watchmaking Industry
Walter Lange (1924-2017), founder of A. Lange & Söhne
Walter Lange was born in 1924 in Dresden, raised in Glashütte and was the direct descendant of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, who founded the company on 7 December 1845. A trained watchmaker himself, he started his career at the family company between 1945 and 1948. However, in 1948, the company was expropriated by the East German government and merged with other local manufactures under the name GUB (Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe), a watch factory producing affordable watches – quite different from the quality that the A. Lange & Söhne used to manufacture. In November 1948, to escape forced labour in the uranium mines, Walter Lange moved to Western Germany, and this didn’t stop his career in the watchmaking industry.
Günter Blümlein and Walter Lange, in front of the F.A. Lange memorial
Hope came back by the end of 1989, after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, which led to the German Reunification. Nationalization of companies ended, which opened the door for the revival of century-old manufactures, such as A. Lange & Söhne – a company that Walter Lange incorporated exactly 27 years ago, on 7 December 1990. With the help of Günter Blümlein (1943-2001), at the time Managing Director of LMH (Les Manufactures Horlogères, owner of IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre, later acquired by Richemont), Walter Lange revived the family company and created the brand we know today under the name A. Lange & Söhne.
24 October 1994 – Presentation of the first “A. Lange & Söhne” watch collection of the new era – from left to right: Günter Blümlein, Walter Lange and Hartmut Knothe
On the 24 October 1994, the company introduced its first new collection after decades without a single watch with the name “A. Lange & Söhne” on the dial being manufactured. The new collection comprised no less than four watches, and four new calibres: the Lange 1, the Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite”, the rectangular Arkade and the Saxonia. Since its revival, A. Lange & Söhne has focused on creating exceptional watches. Walter Lange advocated for both the preservation of traditional handicraft as well as for the development of technical innovations. Discreet and humble, the influence of Herr Lange in the company was immense, even in the last years.
On a more personal note, I have great memories of the times I met Mr. Lange. Whether it be the short occasional meetings, that last drink at the hotel bar after a long dinner in Dresden, or the times we spend the entire evening talking about his life and his love for his own brand, A. Lange & Söhne. I cherish all these moments.
At the celebration of the 200th anniversary of A. Lange & Söhne, from left to right: Lukasz Doskocz, Miguel Seabra, Herr Walter Lange, me and Kristian Haagen.
Despite his age, Walter Lange was always a clever and fast thinker, someone you couldn’t fool. I remember, with sadness, being in the Lange & Söhne booth during the SIHH earlier this year, when we all learned that he had just passed away only a few hours before. Mister Walter Lange was a humble, discreet and passionate gentleman. He was also known for his clear and clever mind, his attention to detail, and to ‘never stand still’. Mister Walter Lange has done a lot (really a lot) for his company and for the German watchmaking industry in general.
I find it almost unbelievable that one watch brand, a German brand with a rather ‘interrupted’ history, has gathered such a strong and passionate following in only 27 years. Whenever you talk with watch collectors and enthusiasts, they always talk with the utmost respect for A. Lange & Söhne and mister Lange himself. The passion for this relatively young brand is strong, and an immense task for the new generation to take care of all of that. Now on to the watch in question…
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” with Jumping Second
7 December 1845, Foundation of A. Lange & Söhne – 7 December 1990, Foundation of the Lange Uhren GmbH in Glashütte – 7 December 2017, the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” is unveiled.
In order to pay tribute to its deceased founder, A. Lange & Söhne couldn’t have done better than creating a dedicated watch. Or to be precise, there will be four different versions of this new watch, three in various colours of gold, and one in stainless steel! The latter will be a pièce unique that will be auctioned for a good cause. The three gold versions are limited editions of 145 pieces in white gold, 90 in pink gold and 27 in yellow gold. If you wonder why these rather strange numbers, this is what Lange says about it: the numbers are derived from important milestones of the Lange family’s history. From 7 December 1845, when Ferdinand Adolph Lange originally established the company, exactly 145 years elapsed until 7 December 1990, the date on which Walter Lange registered Lange Uhren GmbH. Precisely 27 years will have passed between this date and 7 December 2017, the day on which the new model that pays tribute to Walter Lange is being unveiled.
Besides the 18k white gold version, of which we have several images, we only received one small image of the yellow gold, white gold and stainless steel version.
These Homage watches are based on the classical and well-known 1815 model, easily recognizable from the rest of the collection with its Arabic numerals and relatively austere design. No major changes here, this is still very much “1815”. Yet, you might have spotted something strange on the dial… There are many hands, and some of them seem to be redundant: a second hand in the sub-dial at 6, and another second hand on the central axis. Surprising, to say the least.
Interesting facts: The new movement has a special calibre designation: L1924. This reference refers to Walter Lange’s birth year. Additionally, the first three digits of the reference number 297.078 recall his date of birth, 29 July.
Well, first of all, there are indeed two second hands on this watch. Don’t fear any confusion, as both indicate the seconds, and each for its own purpose. The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” has been inspired by an invention conceived by Ferdinand Adolph Lange, Walter Lange’s great-grandfather, in 1867: the jumping sweep seconds hand with the start/stop function. This invention was especially significant for Walter Lange, as it was first implemented in a watch by his grandfather, Emil Lange, in 1877. A true family affair.
On the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange”, A. Lange & Söhne brings back this complication in the shape of a double-second-hand watch. The small second is a classical sweeping hand, making 6 jumps per second thanks to the 21,600vph beat rate. The central second hand is different, as it performs precise jumps from second to second, meaning that it is always perfectly aligned with the markers on the periphery of the dial. In addition to this “seconde morte” feature, the central second hand can run continuously (well, with one-second increments) or be immobilised if needed. A pusher at 2 o’clock starts and stops it. This is useful for heart rate measurements, for instance.
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” is also mechanically relevant with the historical piece, as not only it displays the seconds in the same way, but the mechanical conception is identical. The seconds’ jump is controlled according to the flirt-and-star principle, as was originally the case in the historic mechanism. After each full second, one of the six tips of the star liberates the tensioned lever arm, which watchmakers refer to as the “flirt”. It then swiftly rotates by 360 degrees before it is stopped by the next tip. This motion sequence causes the seconds’ hand to advance by one marker. The ratchet wheel located above the three-quarter plate has a dual function: It stores the power needed for the seconds’ jump, and at the same time causes the sweep seconds hand to stop.
Inside the 40.5mm case of the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” is the calibre L1924. The dial and its blued steel hands are classical to the 1815 collection, as well as the shape of the case. The watch comes in three editions: 145 watches in white gold, 90 in pink gold and 27 in yellow gold.
A meaningful watch for discerning watch lovers. More details on www.alange-soehne.com.
Technical Specifications – A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange”
- Case: 40.5mm diameter x 10.7mm height – yellow gold, pink gold or white gold versions – sapphire crystal on both sides
- Movement: Calibre L1924, in-house – manually wound – 3Hz frequency – 60h power reserve – hours, minutes, small second, stoppable central jumping second
- Strap: Hand-stitched alligator leather in black, light brown or dark brown – prong buckle in gold, matching the case material
- Limited Edition: 145 pieces in WG, 90 pieces in PG, 27 pieces in YG and 1 in stainless steel (with black enamel dial)
- Price: € 47.000 EUR for each of the three gold versions