The fourth A. Lange & Söhne timepiece bearing the “Pour le Mérite” designation combines a beautiful, historically-inspired regulator dial with a fusée-and-chain transmission and a tourbillon with a patented stopseconds mechanism – complications designed to improve rate stability and precision. Find technical details, pricing and wallpaper for this stunning horological tribute inside.
The Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite” pays tribute to Saxon watchmaker Johann Heinrich Seyffert (1751-1817). No other watchmaker can take more credit for advancing precision horology in Saxony. His timepieces were immensely popular among scientists at the royal court in Dresden, and his design concepts influenced other skilled artisans. In 1845, this trend culminated in the establishment of the first German watch manufactory by Ferdinand A. Lange.
The regulator Seyffert crafted in 1807 is a particularly attractive example. It is now part of the collection of the Mathematics and Physics Salon in Dresden. Its dial features three intersecting circles for the time indications. In its caliber, a fusée-and-chain mechanism is responsible for the constant transmission of power. This watch, with the serial number 93, was the blueprint for the Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite”.
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The dial layout has its origins in the precision regulators that since the 18th century were used for calibration by timekeeping services and observatories, and also by manufactories for synchronizing new watches. To prevent any confusion under sometimes less than ideal light conditions, the hour and minute hands were positioned on different axes of the dial.
The most notable aesthetic feature of the Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite” is the the round cut-out in the seconds dial that reveals the tourbillon cage. The cut-out intrudes into the hour chapter, but Lange has devised an ingenious system for addressing the “missing” hour markers. As shown in the images below, at six o’clock, a dial segment with the Roman numerals VIII, IX, and X instantaneously pivots into the aperture to make the hour scale complete.
Below left, the tourbillon aperture is fully open, and right, the hours dial segment has pivoted into place.
A close-up look at the tourbillon aperture with the hours dial segment visible.
The motion of the “pivoting segment” is generated by a switching mechanism that advances the dial segment 90 degrees every six hours. This feature allows the watch to display the time unambiguously during both the morning and the evening. At twelve o’clock, the hours dial segment vanishes as quickly as it appeared, and for the next six hours the tourbillon is again fully exposed.
The task of the tourbillon is to offset rate deviations that can be caused by the effect of gravity on the balance wheel. With a patented stop-seconds mechanism, the Richard Lange Tourbillon can be halted simply by pulling the crown, allowing the time displayed by the watch to be set to one-second accuracy. On the caseback side of the movement, the tourbillon rests in a diamond endstone secured in a screwed gold chaton. This noble setting was one of the hallmarks of Lange pocket watches that belonged to the manufactory’s eminent “1A” quality category.
The “Pour le Mérite” distinction has been conferred on a Lange watch only three times since 1994. It alludes to the order of merit for extraordinary accomplishments in the sciences and arts initiated by Alexander von Humboldt in 1842. The honor is bestowed only upon A. Lange & Söhne complications that incorporate the fusée-and-chain transmission. With a clever implementation of the principle of levers, it equalizes the gradually waning force of the mainspring and keeps the effective torque – and thus the amplitude of the balance – constant across the entire 36-hour power-reserve period. Moreover, a planetary gearing assures that this constant force delivery is maintained without interruption even while the watch is being wound. As shown below, openings in the three-quarter plate allow views of the movement’s captivating inner life.
The new hand-finished Lange manufacture caliber L072.1 offers a frequency of six semi-oscillations per second (21,600 vph), a classic screw balance, and a recalculated balance spring that is manufactured in-house, The 33.6mm diameter movement is housed within a 41.9-millimeter platinum or pink-gold case, with the platinum model available in an exclusive limited edition of 100 pieces.
At publication, pricing is available only in euros: €145,000 in pink gold, €175,000 in platinum.
Additional technical information appears below the images.