How come a German watch brand based in Glashütte near Dresden (Saxony) chooses the Tuscany capital Florence to present their novelty? Well first of all, it is not just any novelty – it is the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattranpante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst, a highly fascinating and complex watch to demonstrate artistic craftsmanship! And that is the key word to explain why Florence.
There is probably no other place in the world where craftsmanship-heritage is so deeply rooted in its history as here. And still is! As we were able to experience during a time-machine-like journey through the old-fashioned but modern artisanal heart of this scenic city! By the way, there are many similarities between Florence and Dresden, but it would take to long to explain here.
It might sound a little old-fashioned, but a fact is that in this fast moving and technological dominated world the true Handwerkskunst (craftsmanship) is becoming less relevant. Is this a problem? Isn’t the new technology just a shifting of craftsmanship? All technology revolutions are based on the knowledge of true craftsmanship and the machines to replace the craft can only be built with the knowledge how things are being made correctly. In this sense, we believe the heritage of craftsmanship needs to be preserved and is the foundation for everything being made by humans. Secondly, talking about the business aspect, customers appreciate much more to have a hand-made product where a lot of time and passion has been put into.
A. Lange & Söhne take this very serious and invited us to Florence, where we experienced some exclusive and individual visits to very special spots of art and culture. Amongst the people and crafts we saw where shoemakers, hat-makers, jewellers, alchemists, graphic designers, wine grower and many more skilful people.
It was interesting to learn the difficulties they faced in the year 1300, when press printing was first practiced in Christian Europe. Because the number of letters (they were difficult to make at that time) were limited, they sometimes had to rearrange sentences and paragraphs to be able to print a page of a book, for example. We have to admit, modern technology makes this much easier. But necessity is the mother of inventions.
We also met shoemaker Saskia Wittmer, one of the first woman in this male-dominated business and nowadays considered one of the world’s best shoemakers. And Albiera from Antinori winery, who have built a remarkable business using most modern technologies and are a brilliant example how decade long craftsmanship and newest technology are the key to produce the highest standard products.
Bringing old and modern together
The new A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattranpante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst is another example. Perpetual calendar mechanisms are among the most sophisticated mechanical ensembles in precision watchmaking. Besides the Grand Complications which is running in this masterpiece, the visual parts of this timepiece confronted the finishers, engravers and enamel artists with an exciting challenge: to raise the decorative opulence for which the manufactory is known to the next level with rare and in some cases revived techniques as well as innovative ideas.
Looking into the details of this watch, it is so beautifully decorated, like a 3-D painting. It is the first model to combine enamel art and engraving on its dial. Solid white gold is the foundation for the deep-blue enamel beneath which the engraved stars appear to be a visual extension of the moon-phase display.
A true highlight of the watch is the hinged ‘cuvette’ on the caseback, which is also made of solid white gold and decorated in deep-blue enamel. To depict the moon theme the goddess Luna – the ancient mythological personification of the moon – is shown on the medallion with her characteristic attributes: a billowing veil, a crescent moon diadem and a torch with which she lights up the darkness.
The perpetual calendar mechanism of this limited edition (20 pieces) correctly displays the individual durations of each month in the course of a calendar year, including all leap years until 2100, which is remarkable! The moon-phase display is calibrated to remain accurate for 122,6 years. A power-reserve indicator reminds the owner when it is time to rewind the watch. A mechanical masterpiece paired with true craftsmanship.