The Jargon Buster: A. Lange & Söhne

By Harlan Chapman-Green

Welcome one and all to a small new segment on the WristReview website. We’ve had some pioneering ideas of connecting with our audience over the past couple of years which has resulted in things such as our Clash of the Watches comparison series and the WristReview Top 5 articles that other big websites have started to incorporate as well. Today we’re presenting a new segment that will run less frequently than the others but will aim to make all the complicated watch buzzwords seem a lot less confusing. After all, no one likes it when they can’t even explain properly what it is their watch does to a friend or relative, with this new guide I invite the other contributors of WristReview to think of companies known for particular parts that we can then make into a helpful list like we’re about to do.

Seeing as we have recently returned from our cross Euro trip to A. Lange & Söhne we felt it would be only right to share some of the things they do in their watches and even perhaps help put right a few wrongs along the way.

The Constant Force Escapement:
This is a good one as it’s one of Lange’s many developments over the years. The Constant Force Escapement system is put to use in the Zeitwerk watches as well as the Lange 31 and anything else with a powerful mainspring. The idea behind it is really simple, the system is used to preserve the accuracy of the watch that might be experienced otherwise. In the case of the Lange 31 there’s over 3.5m of mainspring wound up inside it which can hold enormous power for a watch. Without the regulator it would run too fast at the beginning then slow down very quickly and cause the watch to be inaccurate. In the Constant Force Escapement a remontoir spring is retained by sixty degrees every ten seconds which in turn causes the balance to run at the correct speed for the watch.

Watches with this feature: Zeitwerk Collection (Time, Striking Time & Minute Repeater), Lange 31.

Outsize Date:
This is another unique feature of Lange watches. Although many many watches throughout history have sported a date feature and some have even had big dates, none of them are quite as impressive as Lange’s Outsize Date. This complication makes use of a units disc and a tens cross. There’s only 0.15mm clearance between these two discs and they can move independently or together. The units disc will move at the advancing of the date at midnight and the tens cross will move every ten days i.e. when it moves from the 19th to the 20th of a month for example. To enable these two to act independently of each other there’s a special gear which has been programmed to move forwards as the dates advance. This complication is found mostly on the Lange 1 range but it’s also on the Lange 31 and a variation of this technology is used in the Zeitwerk collection to tell the time.

Watches with this feature: Lange 1 Collection (incl. Grand Lange 1), Lange 31, Datograph Collection, Saxonia Annual Calendar, Saxonia Perpetual Sax-O-Mat, Saxonia Moonphase, Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar “Terraluna”.

Translated from German as “Crafstmanship”, the Handwerkskunst lineup of wristwatches is a limited run of highly decorated wristwatches which feature engraved or ceramic dials. These designs are made by the same people who engrave the balance cocks and other parts of the movement as ways of enjoying their creative art. They are limited editions due to the immense amount of work required.

Watches with this feature: Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst, Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Merit” Handwerkskunst, Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst, Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst.

Monats-Werk literally translates to English from German as Month-Factory. You can find it printed only on the dials of the Lange 31 watches. The reason for this is that the Lange 31 collection of watches all run for just over 31 days, or one month. It’s easy to make the connection now that these words have been translated isn’t it?

Watches with this feature: Lange 31

This translates roughly as “Double Spring House”. We can assimilate this and use our knowledge of Lange watches to reveal that it’s talking about the double mainsprings used in the barrel of the watch to give it a longer power reserve. This word is used in conjunction with their Ab/Auf (Up/Down) power reserve indicator on the dial.

Watches with this feature: Lange 1 collection (excl. Lange 1 Daymatic which replaces this with day indicator).

Gangreserve […] Stunden:
This refers to the power reserve of the watch when fully wound and translates as “Power Reserve […] hours.


Watches with this feature: Lange 1 Daymatic

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