SIHH 2016 – Hands-on review of the A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen (live photos, specs & price)
When you think “Lumen“, you know it’s going to be rare, you know that’s it’s going to feature sapphire and you know it’s also going to be superb… At A. Lange & Sohne, the name “Lumen” means rather unusual watches, which are bearing a smoky sapphire crystal that partially reveals the top side of the movement and the date / hours discs. It also means luminescent areas and a result that is sort of unique and unexpected for such a conservative manufacture. After the Grand Lange 1 Lumen and the Zeitwerk Lumen, A. Lange & Sohne came to the SIHH with a new edition, one that seems natural in the end. Here is the A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen.
The origins of the A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen
The A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 doesn’t need any introduction anymore. Since its inception in 1994, this watch became a true classic, an icon, which except a few technical adjustments in 2015 (that we fully explained to you here), is still entirely the same watch: a 38.5mm diameter, a perfectly balanced dial ruled by the golden ratio, separated indications of the time, the seconds and the power reserve, together with the oversized date. A few years later, following the trend of bigger watches, A. Lange & Sohne launched the 41.9mm Lange 1, with the same movement but bigger sub-dials – meaning that they were overlapping. A nice watch but not as desirable to us. In 2012, A. Lange & Sohne, aware of the inherent issue of the Grand Lange 1, decided to update its large watch: a new movement, designed to fit the larger case (and no overlapping sub-dials anymore), a smaller diameter of 40.9mm (to be frank, more than enough considering the vocation of the watch) and a slimmer profile (8.8mm vs. 11mm for the old Grand Lange 1).
Now we have the base: the Grand Lange 1. But we also have to consider two other watches, important to understand this new A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen, as this later iteration is in fact the result of a blend of two existing watches. The first one is the A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase, introduced in 2013 (well in fact a bit before the SIHH 2014). Based on the normal Grand Lange 1, this edition adds a moon phase complication on the dial, in certainly the most balanced way possible, as the moon disc is integrated in the time sub-dial – thus, the equilibrium of the dial isn’t ruined by an extra complication.
The second watch to consider is the Grand Lange 1 Lumen, a watch introduced a year after the normal edition of the Grand Lange 1. Technically, no evolution. The base is the same: the same 40.9mm case, the same enlarged movement and the same indications on the dial. The main evolution concerns the look; a more modern and stealthy look, due to the integration of a translucent smoky grey sapphire dial and a lot of superluminova, not only on all the inscriptions and indexes but also inside the movement – with a rather intriguing result.
The SIHH 2016 A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen
Here we have the base. The new A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen is a mix of a Grand Lange 1 in its Lumen edition with the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase. Applying the Lumen concept on the Moon edition is rather natural, as not only can the manufacture play with the indexes and hands, as well as the date discs to apply luminous material, but this is now also true for the moon indication, creating a very, very cool design.
The idea is simple: take a Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase, remove the normal opaline dial and replace it by a sapphire plate. This semi-transparent sapphire-crystal dial (in fact it’s partially tinted in a dark grey, smoky colour) exposes – partially only – the top side of the movement. The sub-dials, both for the time and for the seconds, are still opaque. All the indications of the dial, except the logo at 12 and the inscriptions at 6, are coated with luminous material. Thus, the Roman numerals and the diamond-like indexes of the time dial, as well as the hands, shine during the night. Same goes for the small second dial and the power reserve. But the magic trick isn’t here. Just like in the classical Grand Lange 1 Lumen, the 2 discs that indicate the oversized date are also coated with luminous paint, meaning that they appear super bright in the date windows as the special coating applied to the glass blocks most of the visible light but not the UV spectra that “charge” the luminous pigments on the outsize-date mechanism and cause them to glow in the dark. Cool, isn’t it?
The other novelty is of course the moon indication. Usually treated in blue with a gold moon and stars on the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase (where the disc is made of solid gold), the moon disc of the A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen is made of glass. Initially, its surface is treated with a patented coating process. In a second step, a laser is used to cut out 1164 stars and the moon. Thanks to the luminous compound behind the lunar disc, all the starts as well as the moon will also shine during the night. The large moon-phase display occupies a prominent position on the main dial. Once properly set, and just like in the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase, it only needs to be corrected by one day every 122.6 years – this means an accuracy of 99.9978 percent accurate and a moon cycle of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3 seconds.
The A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen only comes in one variation: a platinum case (like all the Lumen editions) and this smoky grey / black dial. The case remains entirely the same as the non-Lumen edition, meaning a rather important 41mm diameter but a subdued thickness of 9.5mm, and the same design, with typical Lange lugs, a rounded and polished bezel as well as satined casebands. The date is still relying on a large pusher at 10 to be corrected. Finally, it will be delivered on a black alligator skin strap and platinum deployant buckle. On the wrist, we still have a preference here for the 38.5mm diameter of the normal Lange 1, a size more in line (to us) with the initial vocation of this watch and with its history. However, we do also understand the need for larger watches and at 41mm, the A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen remains a very pleasant watch, not too big and slim enough to be worn under a cuff.
Mechanically speaking, the A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen still relies on the Calibre L095.4 – the one used in the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase and based on the 2012 Grand Lange 1. This movement was designed to fit the new diameter of the Grand Lange 1 and to redesign its dial to fit with the original layout of the Lange 1, in a larger watch. Thus, it shares numerous common points with the classical Lange 1 (in fact with the old movement of the Lange 1 and not the new one introduced in 2015) but considering the new position of the hands and date, the gear train (and thus all the bridges) had to be repositioned. This movement boasts 72 hours of power reserve (as written on the dial “GANGRESERVE 72 STUNNED”) thanks to a double main spring barrel. Unlike the new Lange 1, it features the older balance wheel with adjusting screws and not the new free-sprung balance wheel.
A very good point concerning this movement is its size, as it measures a massive but so beautiful 34.1mm – and this is something to applaud, as we too often see large watches with a tiny movement floating in the middle of the caseback… Here, it’s full. As usual with A. Lange & Sohne, finishing is to the highest level: bridges and main-plate made in German silver (explaining this slightly gold colour – and it will evolve during the life of the watch, by gaining patina), hand-made polished beveled angles, screwed gold chatons, thin ribbings and engraved cock bridge. It’s not hyper-demonstrative but initiated people will recognize the amount of details here.
Like the previous Grand Lange 1 Lumen, this new Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen is a rather special watch that might be a bit off-line with the rest of the conservative and elegant collection of A. Lange & Sohne. However, it has such a strong personality and the addition of a luminous moon even emphasizes the magic of this watch, which really needs to be seen during the night. Check the video here, where Anthony de Haas, director of product development, explains the concept (and you’ll have the chance to see the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen during the night…). This new Moon Phase Lumen Grand Lange 1 will be produced in 200 pieces only, and priced at 69,600 Euros – to be compared to the Grand Lange 1 Lumen at 59,300 Euros and to the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase in platinum at 56,200 Euros. More details on www.alange-soehne.com.