The dawn of the watchmaking industry in the German state of Saxony began in 1845, when Ferdinand Adolph Lange established his pocketwatch workshop in the Ore Mountains town of Glashütte, which was the forerunner of the modern-day A. Lange & Söhne. As Saxon watchmakers commemorate this 175th anniversary in various ways, Lange, the granddaddy of them all, is doing so in its own inimitable style — with three special timepieces honoring its founder and namesake, clad in its proprietary and rarely used precious metal alloy, called honey gold.
The three limited editions in the “Homage to F.A. Lange” collection, revealed this week at Watches & Wonders Shanghai, all hail from the manufacture’s 1815 family, named for F.A. Lange’s birth year. From simplest to most complicated, they include the 1815 Thin Honeygold, 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold, and 1815 Tourbograph Perpetual Honeygold. The case of the 1815 Thin edition, limited to 175 pieces, measures a modest 38 mm in diameter and earns the “Thin” moniker with its wafer-like profile, just 6.3 mm high. It complements its honey gold case with a two-part white enamel dial, detailed on this special model with dark gray-printed Arabic numerals and bordered by a classical railway minute-track scale.
Honey gold, whose exact composition of materials Lange still keeps shrouded in secrecy, is harder and more scratch-resistant than other 18k gold alloys and identified by the warm sheen of its surface. Inside the case beats the L093.1 manufacture caliber, a manually wound movement with a 21,600-vph frequency and a 72-hour power reserve. Like all movements in this new “Homage to F.A. Lange” range, its eschews the usual Glashütte ribbing on its three-quarter mainplate in favor of a different decorative motif, a granular texture inspired by that used on historical Lange pocketwatches. The hand-applied, floral engraving on the movement’s balance cock, another hallmark of the Saxon brand, is here enhanced with a black rhodium treatment. The Ultra Thin model is priced at $34,000.
The 1815 Rattrapante “Homage to F.A. Lange” is limited to 100 pieces, with a honey gold case measuring 41.2 mm in diameter. This model both features a new in-house movement and represents the first pairing of a honey gold case with a black dial made of solid silver. The superposed chronograph and rattrapante sweep-seconds hands — the former in rose-gold-plated steel, the latter in rhodiumed steel — can be started together with a press of the pusher at 2 o’clock; subsequently activating the other pusher at 10 o’clock can stop the rattrapante hand independently to display a lap time while the other hand continues running. Pressing the 10 o’clock pusher again re-synchronizes the hands, the rattrapante hand jumping to catch-up with the chronograph hand.
The rattrapante or “split-seconds” style of chronograph is one of the most complex horological devices, and Lange gives it the deserved spotlight here, in the new manually wound manufacture Caliber L101.2. (Previously, the function was one among several in the company’s most grandly complicated models, such as 2013’s elusive Grand Complication.) Embellished with the same anniversary decorations as its siblings, the movement consists of 365 parts, including two column wheels to control the chronograph operations, whose actions can be viewed behind the sapphire caseback, along with the blocking motions of the rattrapante clamp in the stopwatch’s lap-time display mode. Fully wound, the caliber stores a 58-hour power reserve; its frequency is 21,600 vph and its array of traditional Saxon embellishments include screwed gold chatons, a hand-engraved balance cock, straight graining on the levers, springs and jumpers, and polishing on the chamfered edges. Mounted on a hand-stitched dark brown leather strap, and exclusive to A. Lange & Söhne boutiques, the Rattrapante model retails for $134,000.
On the highest echelon of horological complexity is the 1815 Tourbograph Perpetual Honeygold “Homage to F.A. Lange,” which at just 50 pieces is also the rarest of the three anniversary editions. It follows the “Pour le Merite” version in a platinum case that was introduced in 2017 and, like that groundbreaking timepiece, combines five complications: tourbillon, chronograph, rattrapante, perpetual calendar, and a fusee-and-chain transmission system. The new model features a black rhodiumed dial, also made of honey gold, with numerals and scales that are not applied but raised in relief from the gold dial by about 0.15 mm for a 3D effect. The “cloverleaf” arrangement of elements on the dial — including chronograph subdials, tourbillon carriage, and moon-phase with black-rhodiumed lunar disk made of honey gold, with hand engraved stars — are a callback to classical Lange pocketwatches.
Also echoing those historical pocketwatches are the finishes on the 684-part movement, the ultra-complex Caliber L133.1 (click here for a detailed rundown of its highlights and technical capabilities), which is on display behind the sapphire back of the 43-mm case. The surfaces of its bridges and cocks, made of German silver, are granularly textured with black rhodiumed inscriptions; the hand-engraved chronograph bridge is black-rhodiumed in its filigreed lines; the chain of the fusee-and-chain mechanism is straight-grained; and the tourbillon bridge — suspended between two diamond endstones, as was customary in Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s highest-quality historical pocketwatches — are black polished. This extremely limited timepiece is priced upon request.