With the unveiling of its Cabaret Tourbillon in 2008, Germany’s A. Lange & Söhne presented a watchmaking milestone: the first tourbillon wristwatch with a stop-seconds mechanism for its rotating balance. The high-horology flagship of the Cabaret family, which was discontinued just two years later, the rectangular-cased timepiece makes its return in grand fashion this year, as the latest member of the Saxon manufacture’s artisanal Handwerkskunst series.
Launched 10 years ago, around the same time the original Cabaret models were being phased out, A. Lange & Söhne’s Handwerkskunst series is characterized by spectacular levels of hand decoration on the dials, cases, and even the movements (“handwerkskunst” translates to “craftsmanship”). For the Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, the seventh overall in the exclusive series, the signature motif is a “lozenge” design style that finds its expression on the manually engraved dial with a semi-transparent enamel coating. The three-part dial is made of solid white gold, with a grey-shaded outer zone on which the white-gold, lozenge-shaped hour appliqués appear, along with applied Roman numerals at 12, 3, and 9 o’clock.
Separating this outer sector from the inner one, with its elaborate hand-engraved lozenge pattern and the hallmark Lange outsize date display in two windows, is a thin, tremblage-decorated outline, also applied to the frames of the rhodium-colored gold subdials for the small seconds, the distinctive “Auf/Ab” power reserve indicator, and the aperture for the one-minute tourbillon, whose matte-finished bridge is suspended between two diamond endstones and boast a black polishing applied in a special, difficult technique. The dial itself, as well as the hands, are also made of white gold.
Displayed behind a rectangular window in the caseback is a rare, rectangular-shaped movement, Lange’s manually wound Caliber L042.1, composed of 370 total parts, 84 of which are devoted to the filigreed tourbillon, which despite its complexity weighs only a quarter of a gram. This movement’s technical claim to fame, of course, is the ability of the oscillating balance inside the rotating tourbillon cage to be reset to the precise second, a rarity in a tourbillon-equipped movement. Pulling the crown triggers a complex lever mechanism that pivots a movable V-shaped spring onto the balance wheel rim, stopping the balance instantly. The arresting spring is shaped to ensure the correct amount of pressure on the balance regardless of the cage’s position, and the mechanism is designed to preserve the potential energy of the stopped balance spring so that it can restart instantly after the crown is pushed back in.
Tailored to the shape of the 29.5-mm x 39.2-mm platinum case — another rarity for watch movements in rectangular cases — Caliber L042.1 has been upgraded from its 2008 predecessor with a new indexless oscillation system with a Lange balance spring. The lozenge motif of the dial’s center is continued on the black-rhodiumed wheel cocks, creating a “visual bridge” says Lange, between the dial and movement sides. Other highlights include the train wheel bridge, made of untreated German silver as per tradition and enhanced with a subtle granular surface echoing those on historical pocketwatch calibers; the winding train, decorated with solarization and visibly integrated into the plate, whose engraved inscriptions are black rhodium-finished; and the nine gold chatons. An extensive power reserve of 120 hours is stored in the barrel.
Like the Handwerkskunst models that preceded it, the Cabaret Tourbillon edition is strictly limited in production to 30 engraved and numbered pieces, all delivered on hand-stitched leather straps with a deployant buckle in 950 platinum. Pricing is available only on request.