A. Lange & Söhne launched several new timepieces at this year’s SIHH, including the Little Lange 1 Moonphase and Lange 1 Moonphase, a new Saxonia, 1815 Annual Calendar, Lange 31, and our top two picks, the Zeitwerk Decimal Strike and Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite”, detailed in our article. The brand’s positive start to the year was saddened by the unfortunate passing on January 17, of philanthropist Walter Lange, who revitalised his forefathers’ factory in 1990 and shaped the culture of the company to make it what it is today.
Zeitwerk Decimal Strike
Lange makes time audible in a new way this year with the Zeitwerk Decimal Strike whose striking mechanism sounds every ten minutes. Limited to 100 pieces, its 44.2 mm case consists of honey gold, an alloy used exclusively by Lange. The Zeitwerk made its debut in 2009, with a mechanical jumping numerals display, which in the latest model, relies on two differently tuned gongs to indicate the full hours and the ten-minute intervals between the start of one hour and the next. The hammer on the left strikes the low-pitched gong once every full hour. The right-hand hammer sounds a higher-pitched tone every ten minutes, or in other words, every time a new ten-minute interval begins.
The watch’s large, precisely jumping numerals display offers excellent legibility. The patented constant-force escapement between the mainspring barrel and the balance makes sure the balance has a constant amount of energy across the entire power reserve period. The technical concept is paired with an innovative material for the case: honey gold. The lavishly finished, manually wound calibre L043.7 has a power reserve of 36 hours. In pure Lange tradition, the three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver and decorated with Glashütte ribbing, the hand-engraved balance cock, and a cam-poised balance with a free-sprung hairspring give the timepiece its unmistakeable Lange aspect.
Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite”
In October 1994, A. Lange & Söhne presented the legendary Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite”, the first wristwatch with a tourbillon and a fusée-and-chain transmission, followed in 2005 by the Tourbograph “Pour le Mérite” merging the two elaborate constructions with a chronograph with the rattrapante function. This year, a fifth complication joins the others in the movement, to form the fifth masterpiece in the “Pour le Mérite” series: the Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite”, a incomparable timepiece combining the fusée-and-chain transmission with a tourbillon, a chronograph, a rattrapante function and a perpetual calendar.
Inside a 43mm platinum case, the dial reflects a traditional approach to timekeeping and its details pay tribute to the brand’s famous pocket watches; Arabic numerals, a railway-track minute scale, blued steel hands for the time, rhodiumed gold hands for the calendar and the cloverleaf arrangement of the subsidiary dials. No less than 206 parts out of the new L133.1 manufacture calibre’s 684 parts constitute the perpetual calendar with its analogue displays. A feat of its own, the calendar will correctly indicate the duration of each month until 2100 and will only require a one-time correction on the last day of February of that secular year. After that, the calendar will again be correctly calibrated for the next 100 years.
The precise control of the gold-plated chronograph hand and the blued rattrapante hand is handled by two column wheels. The combination of a perpetual calendar with a split-seconds chronograph is very rare and power management is especially challenging, but this timepiece pulls it off. The tourbillon and the fusée-and-chain transmission offset two disruptive phenomena in a mechanical movement: gravity and waning spring force, and they contribute to improved rate stability and rate accuracy.
The Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” is a limited edition of 50 platinum-cased watches only. Lange’s 2017 novelties so far are the image of perfection, down to the last detail.