The number 1815 is a significant date in the history of A. Lange & Söhne. It is the year Ferdinand A. Lange was born in Dresden. The founder of the company began his apprenticeship with renowned watchmaker Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes.
The brand today creates some of the finest timepieces in existence. I make the statement with some authority having witnessed the craftsmanship first hand at their Manufacture in Glashütte, near Dresden. Moreover, I am the proud owner of an A. Lange & Söhne 1815 in yellow gold with a tastefully restrained 40mm case. Indeed, Mrs Davies also loves the German marque owning an earlier version of the 1815, presented in pink gold with a 36mm case. There would never be any question of us parting company with our beloved Lange timepieces. I am happily married and always return home to the loving arms of my long-suffering wife. However, I am an alpha male and cannot deny I have noted the odd feminine ankle pass me by.
Some men, as they approach middle-age, feel the need to purchase a sportscar and seek a younger partner. Often this is referred to as “a mid-life crisis”. Whilst, I do not seek a slender, younger wife, I must confess horological monogamy becomes increasingly difficult. Every day temptation is placed in front of me, as a new horological femme fatale tries to tempt me to part with hard-earned promissory notes. Now, A. Lange & Söhne have put temptation in my way with a new model. Her legs are longer and cleavage more defined. Could I be tempted to be unfaithful?
Contrasting the dial with my own 1815, the subsidiary seconds has been relocated from 6 o’clock to 4 o’clock. At 8 o’clock an additional display is presented, a power-reserve indicator. In my opinion, Lange are masters of the power-reserve indicator. The energy stored within the mainspring is always presented in an intelligent style. The latest 1815 does nothing to dissuade my elevated opinion of their prowess in this regard.
The 72 hour power reserve is shown on the power reserve with the scale arcing clockwise from Ab to Auf, down to up. When the mainspring is devoid of energy the blued hand points to Ab within a red zone.
The two aforementioned subdials provide symmetry and blend harmoniously with the remainder of the dial. A minute-track frames the dial, reminiscent of former Lange pocket watches. Arabic numerals depict the hours. The serifs present on the numerals enhance legibility and bestow a traditional character to the dial.
The blued lancine-shaped hands convey hours and minutes and the same tincture is repeated on the hands employed on the subdials. The blue is effortlessly cool, reminiscent of a refreshing dip in a mountain lake.
The 1815 Up/Down, like all new models of the 1815 family, has a new appearance. The bezel has been slightly modified with a subtle indention on its outer edge. This once again, bears a close resemblance to the traditional Lange pocket watches of yesteryear.
The case diameter of 39mm is slightly smaller than my own 1815, whereas the case height is exactly the same, 8.9mm. Would-be purchasers have a choice of three potential variants: yellow gold, pink gold and white gold. It is the white gold which I like the most. However, all have a majestic appearance which encourages praise and covetous stares.
All surfaces of the case are highly polished. I prefer this to my own 1815, and it represents a return to the appearance of my wife’s 36mm version of the 1815.
A. Lange & Söhne are timepieces for discerning watch buyers. Typical customers of the brand will often seek the distilled finishing synonymous with the Manufacture. The sapphire caseback on this watch facilitates viewing of the movement and encourages the wearer to share the passion prevalent within.
It is the movement which truly engages with my heart. The 1815 Up/Down is powered by a new movement, the Calibre L051.2.
I confess to being a horological bore. An enjoyable evening is to place my Bergeon microfibre gloves on each hand, pearwood loupe clenched in my right eye socket, and immerse myself in a world of horological hedonism, commensurate with Lange ownership.
The Calibre L051.1 found in my 40mm 1815 is beautiful. The three-quarter plate, made of untreated German silver, has acquired a rich patina associated with Lange movements. Moreover, it has 5 screwed gold chatons which example the profound craftsmanship typical of this piece of ticking artwork.
It would be very difficult to turn my head for a more attractive looking movement. However, I must acquiesce, the Calibre L051.2 has done just that.
￼What makes it so appealing? Firstly, it has many of the details I adore about the Calibre L051.1, for example the three-quarter plate, hand engraved balance cock and screwed balance. But, it has seven gold chatons, not five. Furthermore, it has 29 jewels, not 23.
The inventory of parts on the movement is greater on the new model, 245 compared with 188. Moreover, the power-reserve is longer with 72 hours of stored energy compared with the 55 hours available with the L051.1.
This new model is threatening my allegiance to my beloved 1815.
Yet, despite the increased specification, the movement is no greater in size. It measures exactly the same, with a diameter of 30.6mm and height of 4.6mm. It seems incredible that the enhanced specification has not lead to a few inches on the waistline of this new filly, which has caught my eye.
The winding wheels are decorated with snailing. The spiral-shaped motif is executed with perfection. The ratchet wheel is hidden from view on the Calibre L051.1, however, it is visible on the Calibre L051.2 and delightfully decorated.
There is an obsessive attention to detail which differentiates Lange from many other brands. The movement is fitted with a stop mechanism. As the mainspring runs down and all of the 72 hours of stored energy are consumed, the second hand stops precisely on zero.
It will have become evident reading this review that my adoration for Lange and specifically the 1815 Up/Down is profound. There are no aspects I could justifiably criticise.
I restrict to writing only about products I love. However, as any parent will attest, they may love their children but they have to acknowledge they have some faults. And, so it is often the case with wristwatches. There are the odd niggles which just slightly taint the flavour, not enough to prevent enjoyment but sufficient to reduce the ideal 100% score.
I cannot think of any areas I would change. I prefer deployants to pin buckles but, on this model, I don’t think the watch would suit a folding clasp. No, I concede it appears to be perfect.
Returning to my earlier question, could I be unfaithful and fall for the charms of a younger model? No, whilst on paper, the 1815 may appear to be superior, my Lange has been with me through good times and bad. We have experienced life together.
The onset of years has lead to light scratches afflicting the gold case of my watch and the three-quarter plate has acquired a mature patina. But, just like my lovely wife Heidi, my 1815 is for keeps and no younger model could ever usurp its appeal.
- Model: A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Up/Down
- Reference: 234.021 (yellow gold); 234.032 (pink gold); 234.026 (white gold)
- Case: 18-carat gold; diameter 39.00mm; height 8.9 mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and rear.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; power-reserve indicator.
- Movement: Calibre L051.2; manual winding; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 29 jewels; power reserve 72 hours; 245 parts.
- Strap: Hand stitched crocodile leather strap presented on a 18-carat pin buckle.