Visiting A. Lange & Söhne for its 20th birthday

Visiting A. Lange & Söhne for its 20th birthday

by Olivier Müller

In Dresden this week, A. Lange & Söhne celebrated the 20th anniversary of its 170-year long history ! Oh, wait, was there something wrong about the dates ? Not at all : the brand was created in 1845, but fell asleep after World War 2 for a long period, until its rebirth in…1994. Hence the 20th anniversary.

During one week, prestigious visitors came after media who came after collectors and retailers. All were offered a trip to the Glashütte manufacture, where around 10,000 timepieces are crafted. A. Lange & Söhne is an integrated manufacture, giving birth to almost all its components in the five buildings the company has in the (very) small town of Glashütte. Its neighbours are Glashütte Original, Nomos, Moritz Grossmann, to name a few. There’s now a dozen of brands establish in this German watch alley.

A. Lange & Söhne 20th birthday – A duet of anniversary timepieces

What’s the future of the brand ? This week, first, A. Lange & Söhne a set of anniversary timepieces. It consists of the Lange 1 and the Little Lange 1. The two models symbolise the significance of spending time together. Why the Lange 1 ? Simply because it was the piece introduced the first back in 1994 for the rebirth of the brand. It had its share of facelifts along the years, but nothing compared with the standard of the industry. For the last 20 years, the Lange 1 remained quite the same. Its introduction in Dresden on 24 October 1994 was such a moment. Those who attended the event will have noticed its historical significance. With its striking design, technical innovations such as the outsize date and the three-day movement, it became the face of the brand. Today, it’s the most produced timepiece in the annual production.

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 20th Anniversary Set

A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 20th Anniversary Set

The manufactory is commemorating the 20th anniversary with a first set five limited-edition watch pairs consisting of the Lange 1 and the Little Lange 1, equipped with guilloched golden dials. Both models incorporate Lange’s L901.0 manufacture calibre. By coincidence, the movement has as many parts as a year has days – 365. The watches differ in diameter: 38.5 millimetres for the Lange 1 and 36.1 millimetres for the Little Lange 1. The ladies’ model features a precious bezel set with 64 brilliant-cut diamonds.

However, the talking piece was the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst : One-minute tourbillon with stop seconds, black enamelled dial and artisanal finishes, enclosed by a 38.5-millimetre platinum case in, again, in an edition limited to 20 watches. On a technical point of view, in 2008, more than 200 years after the tourbillon was invented, A. Lange & Söhne’s product developers succeeded for the first time in reliably immobilising the balance wheel inside the rotating tourbillon cage. Finally, timepieces with tourbillons could be stopped and set with one-second accuracy. The patented stop-seconds mechanism is also integrated in the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst.

Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst

Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst

A. Lange & Söhne – A 5 years agenda

But there’s more to come. The five spit plants of the manufactury will move in a brand new building where all the jobs and people will be gathered. Not very far, actually : across the street. The old and new buildings will even be so close that A. Lange & Söhne plans incude a bridge between the two. The only unit that will stay in the old building is the R&D, managed by a former Audemars Piguet, who leads a team of 55 people – that is to say more than 10% of the global team, including those overseas.

Now that the anniversary pieces have been unveiled, the next big thing for A. Lange & Söhne is the SIHH (Geneva, January 19 to 23). The manufacture was very generous the last two years, with a 1815 Grande Complication in 2013 followed by the TerraLuna in 2014. And the R&D department is running a 5 years agenda, meaning that the 2016, 2017 and 2018 creations are already on the tracks, while 2019 and 2020 are scheduled but still with a margin of last minute adaptation.

Below the pricing of the Lange 1 20th Anniversary set:

101.061 et 811.061 (Platinium): 100.000€
101.062 et 811.062 (Platinium, Black Dial): 100.000€
101.063 et 811.063 (White Gold, Blue Dial): 81.900€
101.064 et 811.064 (Rose Gold, Silver Dial): 79.900€
101.065 et 811.065 (Rose Gold, Black Dial): 79.900€

    Author Bio

    Articles by Olivier Müller


    Olivier Müller is a professional journalist specialising in horology. He divides his time between Geneva and Paris, covering horology-related topics for a dozen or so magazines and specialist websites in Europe. He is also a regular speaker at various events. In 2008, Olivier Müller set up Delos Communications to manage the writing side of his business, spanning five European countries. Delos Communications also provides consultancy services for horological communication, helping brands as they define and implement their strategy in terms of positioning, messages and audience. In addition to the world’s two largest watchmaking groups, Delos Communications’ clients include a broad range of emerging independent brands, as well as public-sector bodies keen to promote their local watchmaking heritage. Five people work for the agency, including a journalist, a photographer, a community manager and a translator, all with expertise in the world of watchmaking.