A. Lange & Söhne unveiled the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, one of the Saxon haute horologer’s most complicated timepieces, five years ago in a platinum case and silvered dial. For this year’s digital Watches & Wonders launch event, Lange finally rolled out a second version, this one in a white-gold case and a vibrant blue dial, housing the same ultra-complex, in-house-developed chiming mechanism as the original.
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is the first watch that marries a “digital” time display, with jumping hours and minutes, to a repeater that chimes at 10-minute intervals. The timepiece’s highly legible dial belies the technical complexity behind it. In the classical manner of the Zeitwerk family, which A. Lange & Söhne introduced in 2009, the jumping hours are displayed in a window at 9 o’clock, while the minutes are shown on two disks of different heights at 3 o’clock. Small seconds are at on a subdial at 6 o’clock, and the power-reserve indicator is just below the Lange logo at 12 o’clock. The dial is made of solid silver with a deep blue painting; the “time bridge” linking the hours and minutes displays is made of rhodiumed German silver and the hands are in rhodiumed gold.
Near the bottom of the dial, beneath the hour and minute apertures and flanking the seconds subdial, are two visible, black-polished steel hammers for the minute repeater. When the wearer presses the pusher at 10 o’clock , these hammers strike the gong that encircles the dial. The hours hammer, with a lower pitch, is on the left side; the higher-pitched minutes hammer is on the right. Ten-minute intervals are signaled via a “double tone,” with a lower pitch immediately following a higher one. To experience the maximum duration of the time strike — about 20 seconds — one would activate the chimes at 12:59.
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater incorporates several practical safety mechanisms to preserve the integrity of the watch. In addition to a stop-seconds function that enables more accurate time setting, the crown is protected so that it cannot be tampered with while the striking mechanism is activated. Once you press the minute repeater’s pusher, the winding train is uncoupled from the ratchet wheel. This saves energy and protects the winding train from harm. Furthermore, the disks for the jumping hours and minutes will not move while the chime is ringing: the time you hear in your ear will always be consistent with the time you read off the dial.
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater stores a 36-hour power reserve. The chiming mechanism cannot be engaged in the final 12 hours of that period, since it would drain too much energy from the barrel and jeopardize consistent timekeeping. When the power-reserve indicator’s hand moves past the red dot on its railroad track, the minute repeater can no longer be activated.
The manually wound in-house movement, Caliber L043.5 is visible through the caseback and equipped with a constant-force Swiss lever escapement. In Glashütte style, it is built on a three-quarter mainplate made of German silver. The movement, which is 37.7 mm in diameter and 10.9 mm high, is entirely hand decorated and assembled. The balance cock is also engraved by hand. The balance is shock resistant and uses eccentric weights for fine adjustment. It beats at 18,000 vph. All told, the movement has 771 components, including 93 jewels.
The white gold case of the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, measuring 44.2 mm in diameter and 14.1 mm thick, is presented on a hand-stitched blue alligator strap, echoing the tones of the dial, and fastens to the wrist with a white-gold deployant buckle. The watch is limited to 30 pieces worldwide and priced at 449,000 euros.
|Manufacturer:||A. Lange & Söhne|
|Functions:||Hours and minutes with jumping numerals display, striking mechanism with decimal minute repeater, subsidiary seconds, power reserve indicator|
|Movement:||Lange manufacture calibre L043.5, manually wound, decorated and assembled by hand; precision-adjusted in five positions; three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver; balance and escape-wheel cocks engraved by hand; constant-force escapement; 771 components; 93 jewels; frequency = 18,000 vph; 36-hour power reserve|
|Case:||White gold case, sapphire crystal front and back, crown for winding and setting time, pusher for activating the striking mechanism|
|Bracelet and clasp:||Blue Alligator leather strap with white gold deployment buckle|
|Dimensions:||Diameter = 44.2 mm, height = 14.1 mm|
Limited Edition of 30 pieces