October 24 is a day of significance for A. Lange & Söhne. On this very day in 1994, Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein presented the company’s first four watches in Dresden. Since then, the 24th has been regarded as the manufacture’s birthday. This year, it is being honoured with a limited edition of a model that the watchmakers did not conceive until many years after the Saxon company’s founding, but which today, more than any other, stands for what makes A. Lange & Söhne so well-known and sought-after: the Zeitwerk. Meet the new Zeitwerk Minute Repeater Honeygold, limited to 30 pieces.
From Lange 1 to Zeitwerk
It was the Lange 1 that gave the history-steeped yet newly resurrected manufacture a name in the watch world from the mid-nineties onwards. The Zeitwerk gave the brand character, while simultaneously testifying to the self-confidence and ambitions of A. Lange & Söhne’s watchmakers. Back in 2009, a mechanical watch with a jumping ‘digital display’ was a bold and completely rethought interpretation of haute horlogerie – even today, it remains a unique concept today. A nickel silver lining provides the frame for the time display on the Zeitwerk. Even the name of the watch, the Zeitwerk, sounds strong and mechanical, but at the same time dreamy and historical.
A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 – First Generation
Over the years, the original Zeitwerk, first presented in yellow gold with a champagne-coloured dial, has become a watch collection that is now highly valued by collectors. The new Zeitwerk Minute Repeater Honeygold represents the highest end of horological complexity. Of course, it is not a completely new model: the first Zeitwerk Minute Repeater was presented back in 2015 – with a platinum case. In 2020, a white-gold version with a deep blue dial followed. Now, we have the entry of this honey-gold version with a grey dial. From a purely aesthetic point of view, this is a more than successful combination.
Honeygold: The metal for special models
A. Lange & Söhne has settled upon the name ‘Honeygold’ to describe a particularly charming 18-carat rose gold alloy. It is harder than common alloys, yet has a pleasantly warm tone, which owes itself to the alloy’s copper and zinc content. At A. Lange & Söhne, Honeygold is usually reserved for special and often limited-edition models. The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater Honeygold is now the 13th watch to use this precious metal, which celebrated its premiere in 2010 in the anniversary edition ‘165 Years – Hommage to F.A. Lange’ with the ‘Tourbograph Pour le Mérite’, a ‘Lange 1 Tourbillon’ and an ‘1815 Moon Phase’.
A minute repeater with intervals of ten
With its integration of a minute repeater, the latest Zeitwerk represents the company’s constant claim to progress and improvement, which Walter Lange once summed up as follows: “There is something you should demand not only from your watch, but also from yourself: never stand still.” Twelve years ago, the first Zeitwerktimepiece with striking movement, the ‘Striking Time’, indicated quarter hours and full hours acoustically. This was followed in 2015 by the minute repeater, which also relayed the minutes in this way, yet differed from the classic minute repeater in one respect: instead of counting off the quarter hours, it announced ten-minute intervals, thus fitting better with the digital display of the time.
The latest timepiece is driven by the hand-wound calibre L043.5, which consists of 771 components. The unique display of hours and minutes is based on a tensioning mechanism between the barrel and the balance wheel, which acts as a pulse generator for the abrupt advance of the number discs. The barrel also provides the power for the striking mechanism. Unlike many minute repeaters, that of the Zeitwerk is not triggered by a slide, but by a pusher. The precautions taken to protect the movement are also remarkable: the crown cannot be pulled out while the striking mechanism is running. Also, the advancing of the number disc is delayed, then repeated as soon as the acoustic chiming has ended. In the most extreme case, this can mean a delay of around 20 seconds – this is roughly how long the striking mechanism works to display the time 12.59 pm.
The owner should always keep a close eye on the power reserve display: if it is less than twelve hours, the minute repeater can no longer be triggered, to ensure that the acoustic signal can also be displayed in full.
New material, new sound
By far the most time spent on completing a Zeitwerk minute repeater is dedicated to the sound quality and tuning the tone springs. The metal of the case is known to have a significant influence on the sound. Or as Anthony de Haas, the Director of Product Development, says: “Just as with a musical instrument, different timbres are created depending on the material used. It’s the same with the Honeygold in our latest innovation: it sounds different from all other materials, and is simply very special.”
What exactly is meant by ‘special’ will only be completely revealed by a live comparison. In general, gold is considered a more benevolent-sounding body for minute repeaters than platinum. With a diameter of 44.2 mm, the Zeitwerk has also an impressive appearance while simultaneously offering enough space for the sound.
A coveted birthday model
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater will only be available in ‘selected A. Lange & Söhne boutiques’. Despite a price that is clearly in the five-digit range, there will presumably be considerably more than 30 enquiries for the limited-edition model in these same boutiques. The manufacture has been extremely sought after by collectors for some time, and special editions like this have many friends. Moreover, the combination of a grey dial and soft rose-Honeygold is extremely successful. It lends a special elegance to the inherently technical-looking Zeitwerk. The brown strap also fits well, even if a black or grey one might have suited the cool Zeitgeist look a little better.
One thing is certain: even 14 years after its initial launch, the Zeitwerk is a watch that combines classic watchmaking with a very contemporary look like no other.
Diameter: 44.2 mm
Height: 14.1 mm
Movement: Calibre L043.5
Power reserve: 36 hours
Price: Upon request