Not all “digital watches” are cheap, electronic, or created alike. Germany’s A. Lange & Söhne has been creating its own decidedly high-end version of a digital watch — that is, one that tells time via digits rather than hands — for 10 years now, and its highlight piece at this year’s WatchTime New York — taking place for the fifth straight year at Manhattan’s Gotham Hall on October 25-26 — is a new model in its groundbreaking Zeitwerk collection with an innovative date display. And yes, it’s all mechanical.
The Zeitwerk Date, first shown to the public last January at the 2019 SIHH watch salon in Geneva, represents the latest leap forward for the iconoclastic timepiece, whose design is inspired by the famous clock at Dresden’s Semper Opera House. (Dresden is the nearest large city to Glashütte, the cradle of German watchmaking and longtime home of A. Lange & Söhne.) Introduced in 2009, the original Zeitwerk was the first mechanical wristwatch with a constant-force escapement and precisely jumping digits for the hours and minutes; it has since become firmly ensconced within Lange’s portfolio of watch families, with increasingly complicated models added over the years, including the Decimal Strike chiming watch in 2017. This watch, however, is the first in the line to include any type of date display, and it is a distinctive one indeed: a ring-shaped date scale made of glass, numbered 1 – 31, encircles the dial, with the current date always highlighted in red.
The watch’s manually wound Caliber L043.6, a new in-house movement created for this model, accomplishes this with the use of a small, red-colored segment positioned beneath the circumferential date ring with its cutout numerals, which moves one step every day precisely at midnight, making a single revolution once per month. The current date is thus always highlighted and easy to read — perhaps the next best option after Lange’s more common Outsize Date, which would have been technically impossible to incorporate into this watch. A pusher at 8 o’clock serves to correct this date indicator quickly and easily: the switching impulse is activated upon the pusher’s release. All of this works in concert, of course, with the Zeitwerk’s unconventional digital time display. Another pusher at 4 o’clock advances the hour indication separately, thus solving the issue of the wearer needing to adjust the time minute by minute via the crown whenever he wants to ensure that the watch is accurate to 24 hours (i.e., AM or PM). Lange’s watchmakers addressed this potential problem — the one that had heretofore prevented any Zeitwerk watches from adding a date — with a clutch that uncouples the hour ring from the jumping numerals mechanism when the pusher is engaged.
Housed inside a 44.2 mm white-gold case — under a gray dial made of solid silver, displaying small seconds in a subdial at 6 o’clock and the traditional Saxon “Auf/Ab” power reserve display at 12 o’clock in addition to the hours and minutes apertures, the newly designed caliber beats at a frequency of 18,00 vph and amasses a power reserve of 72 hours when fully wound. Crafted to Lange’s meticulous standards, it features the hallmark elements the Saxon manufacture’s avid enthusiasts have come to expect — three-quarter mainplate of untreated German silver, hand-engraved balance cock, blued screws, lever escapement, shock-resistant cam-poised balance with in-house-manufactured balance spring, to name the highlights — with the entire ensemble assembled and decorated by hand. In all, the movement is comprised of 516 components, of which an astounding 70 are jewels. On the dial, the hands are made of rhodiumed gold and the “time bridge” that connects the hours to the minutes, of rhodiumed German silver.
Delivered on a hand-stitched brown alligator leather strap with a white-gold pronged buckle, the A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Date will be among the new and exciting models on display from the 36 luxury watchmakers attending this year’s WatchTime New York. Don’t delay; click here to order your tickets now!