Anthony de Haas Interview about a masterpiece: the ALS Grand Complication

“It Simply Marks the Beginning of a New Era”

The GRAND COMPLICATION opens a new chapter in the history of A. Lange & Söhne.

What does the Grand Complication mean for A. Lange & Söhne?

With the development of the most complicated wristwatch ever built by A. Lange & Söhne – and in Germany – we entered uncharted territory in the domain of horology. The unique combination of seven, partly very rare, complications is not only a tribute to the tradition of our brand, it marks above all the beginning of a new era in the history of A. Lange & Söhne.

What do you mean by “a new era”? 

Building a multiple complication with the most complex of chiming mechanisms that bears the distinctive signature of our unique Saxon watchmaking culture has expanded our knowledge and released a lot of creativity. It is not an exaggeration to say that this project has opened the gate for many new ideas and designs.

9686d4e629a3abbdWhat was the biggest challenge in the development of the Grand Complication? 

The project was an adventurous expedition into the universe of complexity where danger lurks on every corner. It imposes extreme requirements on the perfect interaction of many intricate mechanisms and hundreds of parts. To give an example, we had to avoid a loss of amplitude when at midnight all indications of the perpetual calendar are switching and the grande sonnerie is striking simultaneously. We have succeeded in mastering this challenge. Moreover, the owner could even operate the rattrapante mechanism at the same time.

What are the requirements for watchmakers to assemble the movement of the Grand Complication and how long will it take them?

The assembly imposes extreme requirements on the perfect interaction of intricate mechanisms and only the most talented and experienced watchmakers will be able to master the challenges associated with the assembly of this movement and its 876 parts. Even for them it will take about a year to accomplish the mission. This requires the highest level of concentration, experience and sensitivity – and a lot of patience.

What happens during this rather long period of assembly?

The assembly time of one year includes above all elaborate and comprehensive test procedures. For example, the chiming mechanism is monitored day and night. Then the recording is being evaluated to see if the mechanism has been chiming correctly every single quarter. If not, it has to be dismantled, adjusted, assembled and checked for proper function again. “Free, with no shake” that is the mantra, which governs the interplay between the moving parts of a chiming mechanism.

Why did you choose 2013 to present this fundamental piece in the history of the manufactory?

This year is dedicated to our horological heritage. “Unique by tradition” is the theme we have spelled for 2013. By tradition, A. Lange & Söhne is a unique brand that follows its own path and in doing so constantly tries to outperform its own achievements. The Grand Complication is the perfect embodiment of this idea.

What is the message that A. Lange & Söhne is sending with the Grand Complication? 

More than any other watch ever built by A. Lange & Söhne the Grand Complication manifests the endeavor of our product developers and master watchmakers to push the boundaries of fine mechanical watchmaking. And what is more, it contains a promise to our collectors: Our ambition to never stand still will keep us committed to enrich the world of fine watchmaking with meaningful contributions.

After the Grand Complication, what can we expect from A. Lange & Söhne in the future?  

As a matter of principle, we do not comment on future developments. However, we are constantly working on a number of product development projects. We see an unrelenting demand for timepieces with sophisticated complications. We have met this trend in the past two decades with many exciting developments, and we will have attractive new products to address it in the future. In other words: We will continue our product policy of watchmaking excellence and unmatched craftsmanship.


How does the Grand Complication compare to the pocket watch No. 42500 that Lange presented three years ago? 

The Grand Complication is an independent development that opens new gates as regards technical and manual demands. The technical highlights are inspired by the tradition of horological complications that A. Lange & Söhne took to new levels in the late 19th and early 20th century. The pocket watch No. 42500 is perhaps the most prominent and sophisticated example. The know-how acquired during its restauration provided valuable insights and sparked new impulses. The same holds true for the development of the Grand Complication.

How does the Grand Complication command its price of almost two million euro?

Looking at the price one has to bear in mind that it took our product developers seven years to master all technical challenges involved in the design of this exceptional timepiece and that the entire series consists of six examplars only.

Is it true that all six pieces have been sold?

It is true that the number of serious A. Lange & Söhne collectors who are interested in the watch is higher than the supply. But it has not been decided yet who of the potential buyers will eventually get one. Unfortunately, we cannot produce more Grand Complications as it would tie up capacities for too many years that we need for our new projects.