A. Lange & Söhne’s Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, first introduced in platinum in 2015, offers an interesting and innovative play on this traditional haute-horlogerie complication whose intricate mechanism audibly presents the time upon request. Departing from conventional quarter-hour chimes, this masterpiece uniquely sounds in ten-minute intervals, aligning precisely with its unmatched mechanical-digital time display of the hours and minutes. The Glashütte-based luxury manufacture now presents this technically exceptional wristwatch in a limited edition with an expressive gray dial in Lange-exclusive Honey Gold. Serving as a resonance body, this genuine gold alloy produces a clear, reverberant sound, with a rich and warm timbre.
When the button at 10 o’clock is pressed, each elapsed hour resonates with a low-pitched tone, each elapsed ten-minute period with a double tone (high-pitched/low-pitched), and each elapsed minute with a high-pitched tone. For example, at 7:52, seven low-pitched tones, five double tones, and two high-pitched tones resonate, performing a harmonious interplay of auditory and visual time representation that is perfectly synchronized.
The fascinating sound originates in the case material. Anthony de Haas, Director Product Development at A. Lange & Söhne, and a passionate drummer, explains: “Every minute repeater has its own, one-of-a-kind sound. Apart from the gongs and gong hammers, the case material has the greatest impact on the sound. Similar to a musical instrument, different tone colors and sound impressions are created, depending on the material used. That is also the case with this execution of the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater in honey gold. It sounds different to all other materials ‒ truly distinctive.”
“To attain this particular sound quality, all parameters are perfectly matched to one another,” elaborates Tino Bobe, Director Manufacture. “The gongs that are meticulously hand-tuned deliver a pure, resonant sound and harmonize with the sound characteristics of the Lange-exclusive case alloy.
Additionally, all components are carefully tuned by one of our master watchmakers. This requires multiple disassembly, reworking, reassembly and finally, testing procedures. Much of the manufacturing time is thus dedicated to perfecting the sound: to complete such a watch calls for acute hearing and extreme dexterity.”
The elaborate polishing of the gongs and blackpolishing of the gong hammers also requires the experience and virtuosity of a master watchmaker. These components are subtly integrated into the design of the dial and can be observed in action during the repetition sequence.
To guarantee the flawless interaction of this complex mechanical design, the manufacture calibre L043.5 features many safety and blocking mechanisms. The most important one assures that the repeater sequence is not prematurely interrupted and the watch inadvertently stops running, the striking mechanism can no longer be activated if the remaining power reserve is less than twelve hours. Therefore, on the power-reserve indicator, the 12-hour mark is identified with a red dot.
While the repeater is working, the switching action of the numerals discs is delayed. At the same time, the crown cannot be pulled. This precaution prevents any interference with the strikework sampling sequence and ensures that the acoustic indication of time is not impaired. At 12:59, when the longest series of tones is struck, it takes about 20 seconds until the repeater sequence ends. If a new minute begins while the repeater is striking, the minute and/or hour jump is performed immediately when the tone sequence has ended. Thereafter, the next numeral disc switching cycle takes place with the regular timing when the seconds hand passes the 60-seconds mark.
As with all models of the Zeitwerk watch family, the manually-wound L043.5 features a constant-force escapement between the barrel and the balance. This refined mechanism acts as a pacemaker for the instantaneous advancing of the numerals discs in one-minute intervals. At the same time, it contributes to the rate stability by assuring that the balance – regardless of the state of wind of the watch – is powered with a consistent amount of force across the entire power-reserve duration. Composed of 771 parts, the movement is elaborately finished by hand to the highest standards. The artisanal highlights within the beautiful architecture are the intricately hand-engraved balance cock and escape-wheel cock.
The new Zeitwerk Minute Repeater Honey Gold version comes with a dark-brown, hand-stitched leather strap, enhancing its strikingly elegant appearance. The timepiece is limited to 30 models and exclusively available in select A. Lange & Söhne boutiques. Pricing is available upon request.
To learn more, visit A. Lange & Söhne, here.