At this year’s automotive Concours d’Elegance held at Hampton Court, A. Lange & Söhne’s automatic Odysseus chronograph, first presented at Watches and Wonders in Geneva in the spring, was initially the number one topic of conversation. It was everywhere: while posters in the park lauded its release, car collectors who had journeyed to the event were reluctant to let the exceptional chronograph out of their sight. Against this backdrop, what could be more fitting for the 100th anniversary of Le Mans, which was of course also being duly celebrated here in London, than the launch of another exceptional watch?
As chief developer Anthony de Haas lifts the silk cloth off the watch tray in the small cubic presentation room to introduce a novelty saved for the recent Watches and Wonders in Shanghai, he reveals a watch model that the handful of exclusively invited guests at its launch are already well-acquainted with.
It is the first perpetual calendar of the Lange 1 in platinum, and it’s unlimited. The term ‘unlimited’, though, is relative, because production capacity alone means that the number of recipients of such a watch is likely to be somewhere between 25 and 30 per year – and certainly not in the hundreds, given the total number of watches produced for the entire manufacture stands at around 5,500. As CEO Wilhelm Schmid openly admits in an exclusive Swisswatches interview, “The biggest limitation at A. Lange & Söhne is the demand for the quality of the products, in combination with the limited number of watchmakers who can produce this quality at all.” This fits with what Anthony de Haas explains to us, in that not all models of the limited Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar presented in 2021 have yet been delivered.
The new Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar in platinum is definitely a watch that requires a second glance. This is not meant disparagingly, but on the contrary: professionals will of course immediately recognise the difference between this Lange 1 and the hand-wound Lange 1, as Glashütte had mirrored this movement for the more elaborately constructed – and therefore more expensive – automatic version, which means that, at least for left-handed wearers, the time display peeks out from under the cuff. However, the most discreet feature by which one recognises a Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar is the month ring around the dial, which does not destroy the emblematic design of Glashütte’s most famous watch with emblematic large date. It is also technically the most sophisticated part of the watch.
In addition to the pink-gold edition with a grey dial presented in 2021, there was also the white-gold model with a pink-gold dial two years ago, limited to 150 pieces. Now the platinum version is following in their footsteps. Platinum is the material of the moment for many top manufactures that either don’t want to overuse steel, or launch steel models extremely rarely. Heavier than gold, it is not only much harder to work with than steel, but also more scratch-resistant. Platinum is also more discreet than gold, which makes it a wonderful material for many collectors. It looks great on this watch, especially with the black dial.
Since the presentation of the Langematik Perpetual way back in 2001, watches with calendar displays have had a permanent place in the A. Lange & Söhne repertoire – there are a total of 13 timepieces and 45 references that are equipped with a calendar function. At the same time, platinum was already available as the case material even back in 2001. Collectors find themselves in an exclusive circle here, because even the most complicated wristwatch ever made in Germany, more specifically all six examples of Lange’s ‘Grand Complication’, have the most practical function of any modern wristwatch. The perpetual calendar, to which A. Lange & Söhne has devoted itself time and again since the introduction of the Langematik Perpetual in 2001, not only shows the date, the day of the week and the months correctly automatically. Only on full centuries – namely when, according to the exception of the Gregorian calendar, the leap year no longer applies – must a correction be made. The date must therefore be advanced by one day on 1 March of the secular years 2100, 2200 and 2300. Since the year 2400 is a leap year, the perpetual calendar then runs correctly for 200 years before it has to be corrected again on 1 March 2500.
Langematik Perpetual Ref. 310.025
Credit © watchclub.com
The new version of the model with the 950 platinum case and diameter of 41.9 mm features a pitch-black dial. This enriches the watch family with a particularly elegant-looking colour combination, since not only the month ring, but also the numerals for the big date and leap year display are also displayed upon a black background.
With the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar model presented in 2012,
A. Lange & Söhne broke new ground in the construction of the perpetual calendar. The task was to integrate the calendar into the dial architecture of the Lange 1 without changing the arrangement of the decentralised and non-overlapping displays. The solution was a month display using a rotating month ring. It replaces the traditional construction, in which the month display is controlled by a 48mm wheel. The innovative idea, however, presented the developers with design challenges.
The big challenge was to develop a mechanism that releases a large amount of power in one fell swoop, because unlike many other models available on the market, this is a spontaneously or instantaneously jumping perpetual calendar – so at the end of the month, all the displays jump over at the same time. Two cam systems provide the necessary energy: one for the time display and one cam that charges its energy for a whole month, only to discharge it at the end.
This is because the large ring has to be advanced 30 degrees at a time from month to month – four times as much as a significantly smaller and lighter 48 wheel.
The ring-shaped month display is complemented by the Lange big date, a retrograde weekday display, and a leap year display. The precisely jumping calendar displays are clearly legible at all times. Another special feature is the two-level moonphase display with integrated day/night indicator. During the day, the moon appears to float in front of a monochrome light-blue sky, and in the evening it appears in front of a dark-blue starry sky. The automatic manufacture calibre L021.3 is based on the calibre L021.1 of the Lange 1 Daymatic and has been equipped with a newly developed winding mechanism.
The Saxon manufacture’s high standards of craftsmanship are also revealed by a view through the sapphire crystal caseback of the calibre L021.3, which has been elaborately finished by hand and mounted in two stages. The technical features of the manufacture movement include a unidirectional winding rotor made of 21-carat gold with a 950 platinum oscillating weight, a power reserve of 50 hours, and a balance with eccentric poising weights that operates at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour. Typical Lange quality features such as the plates and bridges made of natural nickel silver decorated with the Glashütte ribbing, five gold chatons fixed with blued steel screws, and the balance cock engraved in free cut with the swan-neck spring mounted above it to regulate the drop all reflect the manufacture’s quest for the highest form of watchmaking, right down to the smallest detail.
Price and availability
The new Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar in platinum is worn on a black hand-stitched leather strap. A. Lange & Söhne does not communicates the price of such a model, but what is known is that this watch will be available exclusively in boutiques.
|BRAND||A. Lange & Söhne
|MODEL||Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar in Platinum
|CASE MATERIAL||950 platinum
|DIMENSIONS||Diameter: 41.9 mm
Height: 12.1 mm
|WATER RESISTANCE||30 m (3 bar)
|DIAL||Black, solid silver
|STRAP/BRACELET||Hand-stitched black leather strap
|MOVEMENT||Manufacture calibre L021.3, self-winding, manufactured according to Lange quality criteria and assembled and decorated by hand; finely regulated in five positions; plates and bridges of natural nickel silver; single-winding rotor of 21 carat gold with oscillating weight of 950 platinum; balance cock engraved by hand.
|POWER RESERVE||50 hours
|FREQUENCY||3 Hz (21,600 vph)
|FUNCTIONS||Time display with hour, minute and small second; perpetual calendar with exact jumping displays for big date, day of the week, month as well as leap year; moon phase display with integrated day/night display
|PRICE||Upon request – available in boutiques only