Germany’s A. Lange & Söhne marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, in grand style with the recently announced 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, a limited edition that features a technological first for the brand and sports breathtaking dial and movement decorations. Here’s what you need to know.
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst stakes its claim to horological history as the first Lange watch that combines two of the brand’s patented mechanisms: a zero-reset function (introduced in a watch in 1997) and a stop-seconds device for the tourbillon (which made its debut in a 2008 model). This combination of functions, Lange says, enables the user to stop and set the watch with to-the-second accuracy.
Equally as impressive as the technical feat achieved by this timepiece — limited to just 30 pieces, each in a 39.5-mm rose gold case — is the array of finishes employed on both interior and exterior elements. (Handwerkskunst is German for “artisanship.”) The black-rhodiumed rose-gold dial is decorated with tremblage engraving, in which the engraver sculpts the material with a specially crafted lining burin to create its eye-catching, finely grained look. The dial’s relief elements, including the A. Lange & Söhne logo and the Arabic hour numerals, are then polished to a mirror gloss so their natural, golden color stands out in contrast to the dark gray of the dial. The large, round aperture at 6 o’clock shows off the one-minute tourbillon, whose bridge and upper cage parts boast an elaborate, time-consuming black-polished finissage. The hour and minute hands are in rose gold, while the small seconds hand, which hovers over the tourbillon aperture, is in blued steel.
As is typical of Lange, the manufacture movement, manual-wound Caliber L102.1, is graced with numerous hand-applied, decorative finishes and elements of traditional Saxon watchmaking. The three-quarter plate is elegantly curved and endowed with generous cut-outs that enable the tourbillon to be viewed from both sides of the movement and also allows views of the spring barrel and parts of the wheel train. Made of German silver, this mainplate has a grained surface reminiscent of the one on the dial.
Caliber L102.1, which is composed of 262 total parts, including 21 jewels, and measures 32.6 mm in diameter by 6.6 mm thick, also features bevel-polished edges, applied manually with a specially designed tool. Its fourth wheel bridge is pierced to allow for a better view of the tourbillon and is embellished with artistic engravings. A diamond endstone for the tourbillon completes the picture. When fully wound, the watch holds 72 hours of power reserve.
The sixth model in A. Lange & Söhne’s Handwerkskunst Edition series — and a companion piece to another 200th anniversary model released earlier this year — the A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst comes on a hand-stitched reddish brown alligator strap with a rose-gold deployant buckle. Scroll down to see more extreme close-up images of the movement’s exceptional finishing.