On October 24 of this year the iconic Lange 1 turned 20 (read our original story here). In advance of this milestone A. Lange & Söhne presented five unique Lange 1 ’20th Anniversary’ sets in a variety of case/dial variants, which consist of a 38.5mm Lange 1 and a 36.1mm Little Lange 1 (read about these watches by clicking here). But A. Lange & Söhne wasn’t quite finished with its tribute to the Lange 1 – the Saxon watchmaking company has now unveiled a new, limited edition Lange 1, and it is known as the ‘Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst’.
Handwerkskunst translates into craftsmanship and although A. Lange & Söhne is already world renowned for its craftsmanship, the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst raises the bar, yet again.
Headline features on the Handwerkskunst are a gorgeous black enameled dial, one-minute tourbillon with Lange’s patented stop seconds mechanism and lashings of beautiful artisanal finishes. The latter can be best appreciated by taking a closer look at the dial and, of course, by flipping the watch over, putting loupe to eye, and taking in the fine work on the calibre L961.3 movement.
The famous three-quarter plate made from untreated German silver on this Lange 1 has cutouts (for the first time ever), so that the craftsmanship can be observed properly; one can now see the identically decorated twin mainspring barrels.
The watch’s tourbillon bridge, crown-wheel and intermediate-wheel cocks are also heavily engraved, and there are several screwed gold chatons and two diamond endstone bearings for the tourbillon.
Besides the gorgeous hand-finished movement, the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is as classic and beautiful as they come. The watch features a 38.5mm platinum case that has a height of 10.2mm, and is offered with a hand-stitched black crocodile strap.
Sapphire crystal protects the enamel dial as well as the movement – when fully wound the L961.3 offers 72 hours of power reserve. For movement aficionados, the L961.3 is svelte, measuring just 5.9mm in height and 30.6mm in diameter.
The black enameled dial houses the watch’s mirror-polished hour markers and matching rhodium gold hands. Close to the 6-o’clock position one can observe the tourbillon cock, which is finished here with hard to execute specular polishing. The seconds sub-dial sits within the main dial itself and is slightly recessed. And, whereas the main dial is black enameled white gold, the seconds sub-dial is made from solid-silver.
The Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, as we mentioned earlier, sports Lange’s patented stop seconds mechanism. The company first brought this mechanism to the market in 2008, some 200 years after the tourbillon was invented. This mechanism makes it possible to reliably halt the balance wheel inside the rotating tourbillon cage, which means that the tourbillon can be stopped and set to within one-second accuracy. How does one do this? Simply by pulling out the crown of course.
The Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst carries a retail price of US $221,700 and, sadly, is limited to just 20 pieces.
It’s no small ask – paying tribute to an iconic watch that not only has a global following but which also helped re-launch a respected brand that has been absent for several decades. As expected A. Lange & Söhne did a brilliant job with the 20th Anniversary his and her sets and now, again, with the utterly beguiling Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst.
If you already own a Lange 1 there’s no doubt in our minds that one glimpse is all you’ll need to be sold on the Handwerkskunst. Even if you don’t already have a Lange 1 or any other A. Lange & Söhne piece in your collection, the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst has oodles of charm that is sure to win over even the most discerning buyer.
The movement, as with all A. Lange & Söhne watches, is a visual feast – it’s so intricately detailed here that it’s hard to figure out where to start. This is a watch that is packed with details while remaining true to the Lange 1 family in terms of overall design philosophy, symmetry, aesthetics and of course an obsessive attention to detail and quality.
For existing Lange 1 owners or die hard A. Lange & Söhne aficionados, there are tons of minute details to sink your eyes into. For instance, the famous three-quarter plate in this watch forgoes the traditional Glashütte ribbing decoration in favour of a sunburst pattern that encircles the cutouts. The three-quarter plate also, for the first time ever, now reveals the twin barrel system, thanks to its cutouts.
Circle around to the dial; did you notice the ‘Made in Germany’ script isn’t in the regular position under the main dial but rather is located on the inside of the seconds sub-dial (towards the bottom) of the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst? What about the diamond endstone bearings for the tourbillon? They pay homage to Ferdinand Adolph Lange who used to highlight the high-end quality of his company’s pocket watches by using diamonds in this way.
As we haven’t handled the watches personally we can’t comment on the black enameled dial but, going purely by the photographs, we’re confident it would mesmerize us, and all 20 of the lucky owners. Considering the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst’s size and dimensions are what we’ve experienced with other Lange 1 watches, we’re sure this will be a comfortable if not slightly heavy (due to the platinum case) daily wearer. And, seriously hope that those lucky owners will proudly wear this masterpiece as much as possible.
A glimpse of the future?
Given the low production numbers and the amount of respect Lange commands in the high-end watch community, we’ve no doubt that all 20 watches have already been spoken for. While this is a disappointment for those who miss out, there is an upside. Like the Grand Complication (limited to six pieces) that Lange unveiled last year, we think that the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is a preview of what’s to come from the brand.
While it’s unlikely you’ll see a regular production Lange 1 that looks exactly like the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, we suspect you will be able to buy a Lange 1 with a black enameled dial for example or a Lange 1 with a similarly finished movement (meaning the three-quarter plate with cutouts that you see on this watch).
With the release of the limited edition Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, it’s obvious Lange has upped its game and can reliably create incredibly intricate details. Our advise; if you like what you see on the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst and you aren’t in a position to spend a significant amount of money on a high-end watch at the drop of a dirham, start saving now.