Why A. Lange and Sohne Deserves Your Utmost Consideration?
There are many reasons to get a luxury watch. Sometimes it's the craftsmanship that they represent, at times it's the luxurious symbolism transferred to a moment one wants to remember, and for some it will be the technical expertise that they embody. Whatever the reason, if you are willing to spend the kind of money involved in acquiring a luxury timepiece, a question that often comes up is: what are the very best luxury timepiece brands?
Is this even a valid question? Perhaps it might seem unfair, but this is a question people often ask of timepieces as they also do of cars and any other luxury products. While we would not recommend using any one answer to this question as your go-to decision when purchasing a luxury watch, trying to formulate a reasonable answer to this question can certainly inform your thinking.
The most common answer to this question will be the so-called trinity Swiss brands: Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantin. While we can readily attest that the trinity brands are all worthy of discussions whenever one tries to consider the most important brands in the luxury timepiece space, using only three brands is a constraining answer.
Limiting your answer to the “trinity brands” fails to consider important other brands that have shown the ability to create innovative and fantastically creative and timeless timepieces in the past few decades. In particular watches from A. Lange & Sohne, Jaeger LeCoultre, and Breguet come to mind.
While we are not trying to replace the common trinity brands with a new selection or suggesting the trinity brands not worthy, we want, however, to shed light on at least one of these new noteworthy brands. In particular let's discuss A. Lange & Sohne (or Lange).
It’s also the one non-Swiss watch manufacturer that is easily discussed in any watch geek discussion of the most important and influential watchmakers in the last 30 years [check] and one that seems to impress us more and more every year.
Unlike the “big three” brands, Lange has a broken history. Before WWII, Lange was one of the most prominent watchmakers in the famed Glashutte region of Germany. Indeed, Walter Lange, founder of the brand, help established Glashutte as a serious competitive threat to Swiss watchmaking in 18XX [check] and for XX years [check] they created a wide range of timepieces that could rival their Swiss counterparts.
After the war, with the separation of Germany, Lange closed shop while the East Germany government established a conglomerate to take over the watchmaking business in Glasshute. When Germany finally reunified in early 1990s, the remaining of what was A Lange & Sohne, living in exile, came back to reclaim past glory and reopened shop in 1993 [check].
In what remains one of the most intriguing and notable event in watchmaking history, the Lange 1 was released in 1995 [check] along with a collection of Lange calibers, which would set the course of the brand’s current esthetic and direction.
The Richmond Group acquired Lange in 2002 [check] when again Lange seemed faced with what was thought to be another set of challenges in its direction and future. But Richemond has allows Lange to continue in its independent spirited ways with an influx of capital investment which has allowed it to introduce a variety of new models and new movements almost yearly at the SIHH show in Geneva.
The Lange 1 for instance has seen continuous evolution and refinement like the Grand Lange and the Lange Moonphase, all keeping the patented asymmetric dial design of the original Lange 1 while adding more features and complications. The Lange 1 worldtimer [check] is a great example that keeps the same proportions while adding the useful travel friendly world time complication.
While the Lange 1 is by far its most popular model, Lange is by no means a one watch design company. The introduction of the Datograph took the world of watchmaking by storm in 2008 [check] by not only releasing a beautiful, classically designed, chronograph with Lange’s unique esthetic, but also because it introduced what at the time was the first new chronograph movement in over 1/2 a century [check].
Critics and watchmakers alike rave about the Datograph movement and its chronograph pushers which actuate the seconds hand without any jolt [check]. The feel of these pushers are something to experience in person to understand the excitement this generated and still generates today.
Lange also showed its modern watchmaking prowess with the release of the Zeitwerk in 1998 [check]. This was the first watch with a completely digital hour and minutes indicator. Lange engineers created a movement what would jump every minute to show the current time in digital format and precisely showing transition to hours within milliseconds.
An engineering tour de force as the watch remains very wearable in 45 mm [check] and its beautiful classic design evokes the heritage of the brand by being inspired from a digital timer Lange had created for the Dresden Opera back in the 19th century.
In addition to its flagship models, in 30 years since its revival, the brand has also introduced the 1815 model as well as other models invoking its heritage like the Walter Lange, the affordable Saxonia line, and some super complicated pieces like the Astronomia and minute repeater introduce at SIHH in 2017 and 2016.
Besides the amazing finishing of all Lange watches there are two other things that set them apart. First, Lange only makes precious metal versions of their watches. This means that the prices tend to be above what most consider entry level for luxury timepieces ($20,000 and above).
The consequence is perhaps an interesting potential benefit for Lange owners. And that is, some assurance that their purchases will not be diluted with models targeted at the lower segment of the watch buying market.
Finally, anyone who has had a chance to try on and see up close a Lange watch will come away in awe of the finishing of the case and in particular of the movement. They are simply spectacular. One must experience seeing a Lange movement in person to fully understand the spectacle they provide. No photograph can do it justice.
Using German silver, Lange movements are finished with gold chatons and blue screws over bridges that show Geneva snailing like you rarely see for any watches, at this price point or even above. It’s impossible to see the caseback of a modern Lange and not fall in love.
So while the holy trinity of watchmaking might still be considered to be Swiss, there is a German brand making a strong case for disruption. Every watch enthusiasts not familiar with Lange watches should spend some time examining their products as we believe touching and trying on a Lange watch is an experience that changes minds.