A. Lange & Söhne is held in high regard by many watch aficionados for many reasons, but one of the Saxon brand’s most admired characteristics is its ability to embrace traditional watchmaking while still being endlessly inventive in its pursuits of modern designs, technologies, and materials. In the new Zeitwerk Honeygold Lumen, announced today on the anniversary of the company’s founding, Lange brings three of its contemporary innovations together in a single timepiece.
The three words of the watch’s name identify each of its talking points. The original Zeitwerk model, famously introduced in 2009, was groundbreaking in its use of a “digital” time display, mechanically driven by three disks with three sets of jumping numerals. This latest model has a case made of Lange’s proprietary Honey Gold, an alloy that is harder than traditional gold alloys and achieves its distinctively warm gloss from a special heat treatment and mineral additives. Introduced in 2010, Honey Gold is used very sparingly by the Saxon manufacture, only on very rare and limited models, most recently in last year’s Homage to F.A. Lange editions. Finally, making the timepiece additionally special is its semi-transparent “Lumen” dial, whose light-permeable treatment allows the numerals on the disk to glow in the dark. Like the Honey Gold alloy, the first Lumen edition (at the time referred to as “Luminous”) debuted in 2010; this will be only the fifth model in the rare series, and the first since 2018’s Datograph Up/Down Lumen. Most notably, it is also the first watch in the Lumen series to use a Honey Gold case.
Lange being Lange, the Zeitwerk Honeygold “Lumen,” which is limited to 200 pieces, also boasts a new in-house movement, Caliber L043.9, which doubles its predecessor’s power reserve to 72 hours. In other respects, the movement continues the mechanical tradition of previous Zeitwerks, with two disks for the tens and units working in concert with an hour ring of jumping numerals that spans the entire diameter of the caliber. All the numerals are the same size and switch precisely from one minute to the next for an intuitive left-to-right reading of the time. At the top of each hour, all three disks switch simultaneously by one increment. Thanks to the Lumen treatment, the numerals not framed in the apertures of the typical Zeitwerk curved “time bridge” that dominates the sapphire dial are exposed to UV light along with the ones that are, thus enabling them to glow a ghostly green in the background. Balancing out the dial’s symmetrical architecture are a large small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and a semicircular power-reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. For this version of the Zeitwerk, Lange used black rhodiumed German silver, which harmonizes with the crystal dial.
Another new feature on the 41.9-mm case is the pusher at 4 o’clock, which enables the hour indication to be switched separately, allowing for easier overall setting of the time. The inclusion of this device, which uses a clutch to uncouple the hour ring from the minutes mechanism each time it is pressed, required Lange’s designers to increase the number of movement parts to 462. The minutes can be set in both directions by the crown at 2 o’clock.
Through a sapphire caseback, one can admire the exquisitely finished manually wound caliber, with two mainspring barrels to deliver the power needed for the switching mechanism and a patented constant-force escapement. As per Lange’s standards and in keeping with historical Saxon watchmaking, the movement is dominated by a three-quarter mainplate made of untreated German silver and incorporates hand engraving on the escape-wheel cocks. Its shock-resistant cam-poised balance, with an in-house balance spring, oscillates at 18,000 vph.
The A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Honeygold “Lumen” is offered on a hand-stitched dark brown leather strap with a prong buckle forged from the same Honey Gold as the case. Exclusive to Lange’s boutiques, it is priced at $145,000.