Hands-On: A. Lange & Söhne Watches & Wonders Pieces (Part 1)

2015 is a big year for A. Lange & Söhne. In honor of the 200th anniversary of founding father Ferdinand Adolph Lange, the brand has been unveiling new models that fully demonstrate the breath of watchmaking knowledge, and capabilities, that it has in-house.

We've split this article up since we had the chance to look at so many watches.

We’ve split this article up since we had the chance to look at so many watches.

At SIHH, the brand showed off several models, led by the incredible Zeitwerk Minute Repeater (our story here). And, at the recent Watches and Wonders exhibition in Hong Kong, the German brand debuted six new pieces including the 1815 Chronograph, the 1815 “200th Anniversary F.A. Lange”, two new Saxonia dress watches, and two Little Lange 1 references.

Fortunately for us, and for watch lovers in the region, A. Lange & Söhne organised an exhibition at The Dubai Mall, with a number of the 2015 novelties in attendance. Before the exhibition opened, we were able to experience all the novelties at the brand’s Dubai Mall boutique. We began with the…

1815 Chronograph

This reference of the 1815 Chronograph is easily one of the most attractive chronographs of 2015.

This reference of the 1815 Chronograph is easily one of the most attractive chronographs of 2015.

There are two types of chronographs that you can buy – dress and sporty, and A. Lange & Söhne actually offers a watch that fits each category. The 1815 Chronograph is the dressier of the two, whereas the Datograph, with its thicker and larger diameter case, is more of a sporty piece.

Both the Datograph and the 1815 Chronograph are incredible watches and both were updated this year. The new pink-gold/black dial Datograph Up/Down was shown at SIHH (read about it here), and now there is this new 1815 Chronograph with a white-gold case, a pulsometer scale, blue dial markings, and an argente-solid sliver dial. You can read our initial report when it broke cover at Watches and Wonders by clicking here (we recommend that you do because this article is more about key points and wearing impressions).

While it's not the slimmest chronograph you can buy, it's proportions and overall aesthetics more than make it a dress chronograph in our mind.

While it’s not the slimmest chronograph you can buy, it’s proportions and overall aesthetics more than make it a dress chronograph in our mind.

The 1815 Chronograph is a boutique only timepiece, and it features a 39.5mm case. This watch is the very definition of tasteful – we thought it looked brilliant in pictures, and it looks even better in person. The deep blue markings offer superb contrast against the argent-solid silver dial, and what this ultimately means is that you have a dial that is both beautiful and legible.

One thing we want to discuss here is the return of the pulsometer scale. When Lange introduced the second generation 1815 Chronograph, it did away with this scale, and only had the railway track seconds counter on the periphery of the main dial. This change, though seemingly trivial, is what has been driving collectors to seek out the first generation 1815 Chronograph (we can totally understand this, since we also love the look of pulsometer scales on chronograph dials).

Perfectly suited to our wrist, we reckon.

Perfectly suited to our wrist, we reckon.

On the wrist, the 1815 Chronograph is a dream. The watch feels and looks its size, and it just wears incredibly well. The case measures 11mm in height, so you shouldn’t have any issue with getting this watch under shirt cuffs or sweaters.

The design of the lugs and the flexibility of the strap made it a comfortable companion, and no matter the angle we chose to observe it, we were completely taken with the way it looked. This is the sort of the watch that can instantly put a big smile on your face. Aesthetics aren’t the only thing it offers however, this is a Lange after all.

The case has a slight step in it, right underneath the bezel. We've seen this on other 1815 timepieces recently.

The case has a slight step in it, right underneath the bezel. We’ve seen this on other 1815 timepieces recently.

Inside the 1815 Chronograph beats the calibre L951.5, and you immediately become aware of its high-end nature the first time you engage the chronograph. The action of the pusher is unbelievably smooth, and because this movement features a column-wheel design, the chronograph’s main hand begins its sweep with absolutely no drama at all – on lesser movements, you’ll notice the main hand jump a little when the pusher is engaged.

Engaging the flyback function or stopping the chronograph is flawless as well – the pusher feels great when it’s pushed, there’s a reassuring click, and the hand just jumps back to the 12 o’clock position seamlessly. In this day and age, there’s rarely a reason to use a chronograph on a watch in normal everyday life but with a watch like this on your wrist, you’ll find yourself looking for reasons to use those pushers.

A. Lange & Söhne's chronograph movements are devastatingly beautiful.

A. Lange & Söhne’s chronograph movements are devastatingly beautiful.

Generally speaking, Lange’s movements are very well designed but the brand’s chronograph movements are on a different level entirely. The L951.5 manually wound calibre is a 6mm thick horological masterpiece – the sheer depth and design of the beautifully finished movement could keep you captivated for hours.

To summarise, we’re completely in love with this reference of the 1815 Chronograph (ref. 414.026) – it seems that A. Lange & Söhne has combined the best parts of the first- and second-generation 1815 Chronograph models, and the result is dress-chronograph nirvana. The watch retails for about US $52,000, which we think is great value, when you consider that dress chronographs from brands like Patek and Vacheron are noticeably more expensive.

1815 “200th Anniversary F.A. Lange”

A. Lange & Söhne reserves its honey-gold alloy for only special watches.

A. Lange & Söhne reserves its honey-gold alloy for only special watches.

As its name suggests, this time-only model of Lange’s 1815 pays direct tribute to A. Lange & Söhne’s founding father. It is limited to just 200 pieces but more importantly, this piece presents a unique dial texture, and its case is crafted from a gold alloy that’s exclusive to Lange.

A. Lange & Söhne calls this alloy honey-gold, and this is only the second time that the brand has used this alloy. It was originally announced in 2010, and then appeared on the 165th Anniversary Homage to F.A. Lange three-piece set.

The watch case has both high- and brushed-polished finishes.

The watch case has both high- and brushed-polished finishes.

In terms of color, the honey-gold alloy sits in between the color of yellow- and rose-gold. There’s a slightly warmer tone to the honey-gold and, according to Lange, this particular form of gold (which is 85 percent pure gold) is more expensive to buy in its raw form, and is more of a challenge to work with. The material is also said to be much harder than yellow-gold, in its final alloy form. This is a good thing because yellow- and rose-gold are actually quite soft, as far as metals go, and so it’s very easy to put minor scratches and dings into them, even if you’re careful.

We aren’t the biggest advocates of yellow-gold, we think the warmer tone of rose-gold is more suited to our young adult age, and skin tone. That said, the honey-gold’s color grew on us almost immediately – it presents as paler than yellow-gold, so when we strapped the 1815 200th Anniversary F.A. Lange to our wrist, it didn’t create as stark a contrast against our darker skin. Under certain light, the honey-gold even appears to look like steel or white-gold.

Simple and effective. This movement looks very different from the brand's chronograph movements but it's just as beautifully finished.

Simple and effective. This movement looks very different from the brand’s chronograph movements but it’s just as beautifully finished.

As we mentioned earlier, this watch has a rather unique dial. Whereas the 1815 Chronograph that we discussed earlier in this article has a smooth dial finish, this 1815 has a rougher finish – it appears almost like the texture you find on egg shells. It’s a striking feature that helps to distinguish this watch from other 1815 time-only pieces that A. Lange & Söhne has in its collection.

Within this timepiece sits Lange’s in-house calibre L051.1, a manually wound masterpiece that is decorated to the level you’d expect from A. Lange & Söhne. Seen through the sapphire crystal caseback, the movement is dominated by a three-quarter plate that is made from German silver. This material oxidises over time but this is nothing to worry about, in fact it serves to give more character to the watch, and is something that Lange should be able to take care of, when you send the watch back in for service. The other prominent element of the movement is the hand-engraved balance cock, a feature that was inspired by antique Lange pocket watches.

The honey-gold case is far more subtle than both yellow- and rose-gold.

The honey-gold case is far more subtle than both yellow- and rose-gold.

On the wrist, the 1815 200th Anniversary to F.A. Lange wears as well as its chronograph counterpart above. This piece has a slightly larger 40mm case, and although this watch should appear larger, since there’s less happening on the dial than the 1815 Chronograph, it actually appears to be the same size. The case has a slight step at the edge of the bezel, which is something we’ve seen on other 1815 models – this helps to break up the case though this is by no means a thick watch.

The watch is, on the whole, an attractive piece that we grew very fond of. The honey-gold case may not appeal to those that are used to the color of regular yellow-gold but we reckon it’s perfect for younger collectors. The one downside with the honey-gold alloy is that it is expensive. We said earlier that honey-gold is more expensive in raw form and more challenging to work with, and this is reflected in the US $34,000 retail price. That is a significant premium over the standard time-only 1815, even considering this is a limited edition timepiece.

To read part 2 of this article, click here.

To learn more about A. Lange & Söhne, click here.

Our thanks to the A. Lange & Söhne PR and Dubai Mall boutique team for arranging for HME to try each of these pieces.

Howdy! Want to discuss something? Leave us a comment.