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A lAnge & sohne

If any sIngle detail sums up A Lange & Söhne’s brand philosophy, then it is this: having assembled each movement and ensured that it works, the watchmaker then takes it apart again, polishes and refines every component and pieces it together again with brand new screws. Most watchmakers would baulk at such a time-consuming (and therefore expensive) step, but then Lange is emphatically not most watchmakers. Re-born in 1990 following a 40year hiatus, the company’s factory was appropriated by the state in 1948 when East Germany fell under socialist rule (see box on p28) – A Lange & Söhne released its first new watches in 1994, with the range spearheaded by the now iconic Lange 1. The Lange 1 was a calling card for the revived watchmaker; its offset dial, oversized date numerals and prominent power reserve gauge all pointing towards a bold stylistic direction, albeit one with a healthy nod to the past. But even then, as now, the defining feature of any A Lange & Söhne watch was its movement. Painstakingly produced to exacting specifications and miniscule manufacturing tolerances, every Lange movement is itself a work of art, and this is no more evident than when wandering around the company’s workshops. Located in the tiny city of Glashütte in Germany’s historic Saxon region, Lange occupies two premises: the larger having been built recently to house the majority of the company’s employers, and the other the company’s original home, built in 1873 and now restored to its former glory. Donning a white lab coat, I’m led through the bowels of the premises, where precision CNC milling machines sit next to Lange employees hunched over tiny fragments of untreated German silver that they are polishing and finishing to within an inch of their lives. Behind them are what look like miniature Ferris wheels (they are, in squaremileclub.com

fact, motion simulators), each studded with several hundred thousand euros’ worth of watches completing countless rotations over the course of several weeks until absolute precision can be guaranteed. In another room, balance cocks are engraved by hand, each featuring the same floral motif that adorned the pocket watches made by founder Ferdinand A Lange. Most impressive of all though is a movement destined for a Datograph, placed under a microscope, in which the magnified hairspring and balance wheel – which together regulate the rate of the timepiece – can be seen to oscillate like a tiny mechanical heart. The watchmakers, sitting at their clinical stations wielding precision tools and dressed in the same white lab coats as me, could easily be surgeons. Some 15 years have passed since the first watches left the factory, and A Lange & Söhne has brought a steady stream of technically accomplished and stylish timepieces to the market. A fanatical dedication to producing uniquely intricate complications – the 2006 Tourbograph, for example, united a tourbillon with a fusée-andchain transmission and a rattrapante chronograph – has generated respect and awe in equal measure from the watch cognoscenti. Fabian Krone, the company’s CEO, says such boundary pushing is an integral part of the brand’s philosophy. “Lange’s mission has always been to interpret things

●● Watchmakers, with precision tools and white lab coats, could be surgeons

The precision of science: for A Lange & söhne the devil has always been in the detail

differently: not to be content with the obvious, but to try to go beyond it.” It is with this in mind that A Lange & Söhne’s latest piece, the Lange Zeitwerk, has come into existence. The Zeitwerk, with its astonishing mechanical digital time display, makes the company’s boldest visual statement since the launch of the Lange 1. “Although in past years, of course, we have always made a technical statement,” Krone explains, “I think the time now has come to make the next step with the brand. With the Zeitwerk we’re not only making a technical statement, but a design statement too.” The face is at once customarily elegant and thoroughly modern, with the hour and minute numerals – visible through windows in the exposed ▶

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Square Mile Guides - Watches - 2009  

Square Mile Magazine, The Best of the City Watch Guide 2009 (Issue 40)

Square Mile Guides - Watches - 2009  

Square Mile Magazine, The Best of the City Watch Guide 2009 (Issue 40)