I don’t know about you but personally I’d like to think that if I were ever in the fortunate position of being able to actually purchase a super high-end timepiece, I would have the good sense to get something that was of course complicated but at the same time also practical. Now arguably any number of timepieces fall into this category, and so picking just one is a whole another story in and of itself. That being said, I’d like to throw a suggestion into the mix; the A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar TerraLuna.
Undoubtedly many of you are already quite familiar with the watch I am talking about. Unveiled to the world at the SIHH in January of this year, the TerraLuna made quite an impression. Of course that may have had something to do with the fact that Lange & Söhne had a giant version of the TerraLuna in the middle of its booth, however I‘d like to think that the real reason is because it is one seriously impressive timepiece.
The Richard Lange Collection
As the lengthy name suggests, the TerraLuna belongs to the Richard Lange collection and as such features the distinctive ‘regulator’ style dial common to several other models in the range. According to Lange & Söhne this particular design was inspired by Johann Heinrich Seyffert’s 1807 regulator, which now belongs to the timepiece collection of the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments. Seyffert (1751-1817) was an incredibly talented watchmaker in his own right and is widely credited with raising the standard of watchmaking in Dresden to new levels of excellence.
As you might have guessed from looking at Lange’s modern day interpretation, the dial of Seyffert’s regulator featured three intersecting circles for the time indications. According to Lange, the regulator format, with its highly accurate displays of both the minutes and the seconds, was a great advantage for precision pocket watches, timekeeping services and observations, but also for watchmaking companies where it was used for synchronising new timepieces.
Not surprisingly then the modern day version is equally as user friendly, providing the wearer with a very precise time reading at just a glance at his or her wrist. Of course, as we’ll shortly discover, the TerraLuna also manages to pack a few other neat tricks into its 45.5mm case.
The A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar TerraLuna
The first ‘added benefit’ of the TerraLuna should be rather obvious from the name; it is of course the Perpetual Calendar. Arguably one of the most useful complications in all of watchmaking, the Perpetual Calendar typically displays the Day, Date, Month, Year and Leap Year. Sadly however this level of detail can sometimes lead to overcrowded and even confusing dials, especially with watches with smaller case diameters. Fortunately that is not the case here at all with the TerraLuna. In fact the indications of the Perpetual Calendar integrate so seamlessly with the Regulator style of the dial you could almost be forgiven for thinking it was designed specifically for this purpose.
Starting at 12 o’clock we find Lange’s much loved outsize date display making its debut appearance in a watch from the Richard Lange collection. Continuing our way down we find two small apertures on either side of the dial (at 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock respectively), one for the day and the other for the month. Just above the month indicator between 2 and 3 o’clock is a small round window for indicating the leap year, whilst along the bottom of the dial a subtle opening shows the power reserve in days (that’s right, days. More on that later though).
As you would expect from a watch built for accuracy all indicators switch instantaneously at midnight to keep things nice and precise. It’s all so understated that for a moment you almost forget the significance of having a Perpetual Calendar complication and kind of you just take it for granted.
Of course, if you’re looking for something a little more eye-catching all you need to is turn the TerraLuna over and you will discover one of this year’s most photographed case backs, and with good reason. What you are looking at is a gorgeous orbital moon-phase display with day/night indicator for the Northern Hemisphere built right into the movement itself. In total the display is comprised of three discs; the celestial disc beautifully decorated with an abundance of stars, the lunar disc which lies beneath it and the earth disc in the centre. Meanwhile the balance occupies the position of the sun.
As stunning as the orbital moon-phase display is though, what I find even more unbelievable is the level of accuracy it offers. We know that the moon completes one full orbit of the earth in just over 29.5 days in an anti-clockwise direction and so using this information the moon-phase display on the TerraLuna has been engineered so precisely that it will take 1,058 years before a correction of one day is required.
Providing the power to the A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar TerraLuna is the beautifully decorated calibre L096.1, an in-house, manually-wound movement equipped with a constant force escapement responsible for controlling the enormous amount of energy stored in the twin mainspring barrel. When fully wound the watch offers a whopping 14-day power reserve, made all the more impressive by the fact that there is the added energy requirements for the Perpetual Calendar and Orbital Moon-Phase.
The drawback of all this complexity however is the rather large case required to house it all. At 45.5mm x 16.5mm the case of the TerraLuna definitely makes its presence known on the wrist, making it almost unsuitable for regular wear (unless of course you like big, heavy watches.) That being said I would still strap it to my wrist again in a heartbeat should the opportunity present itself, it just offers such a great blend of function and form that I simply cannot resist. Of course, the price may prevent me from doing that anytime soon.
The Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna is available in white gold for US$216,400 and in pink gold for US$215,100.