Written by Nick A. Meijer
In 1994, Walter Lange stunned the world when he re-launched his family business, the A. Lange & Söhne watchbrand in Glashütte. Originally founded by his great-grandfather Ferdinand Adolph Lange, the Lange brand was forced to merge after world war 2 in the VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe in former Eastern Germany. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Walter Lange and his partner Günter Blümlein (of IWC fame) were able to prepare the come-back of the brand in the high-end of the watch scene. Among the first series of timepieces from this new era, the Lange 1 was the centerpiece. The wristwatch, with the breathtaking large date display, was an instant classic.
The 1 (“eins”) had a completely new movement, caliber L901.0 which is manually wound and has a (auf-ab) power reserve. The outsize date, which set a trend that was later followed by others, was patented by Lange and makes the 1 very characteristic and recognizable. Originally delivered in yellow gold with solid silver dial and 38,5 mm case, the 1-series has grown over the years in a large number of variations. The ref. 110.030 with mother of pearl dial is a rare variation, available in the nineties. The Moonphase (ref. 109) was launched shortly thereafter. In the early years, a “kleine” Lange 1 with 36 mm case was offered for a short period.
Ref. 109 moonphase
The ref. 115 series, known as the Grand Lange 1, was the answer to the demand for larger casing and came with a 41,9 mm case, which also houses the 116 series 1 Time Zone, the world time variation. Both watches became standard values in the Lange product lines.
In 2000, the 1-series was combined with a Tourbillon, and offered in limited edition of 150 pieces in platinum and 250 in gold. The caliber L961.1 had the rotating cage visible between 4 and 6, and was visibly integrated in the by then already famous 1 signature dial. Lange 1 Tourbillons are a rare sight in the current market, and in high demand.
In 2010, the Daymatic added a automatic movement to the Lange 1 family. Ref. 320.032 is a mirror image of the original 1, having the outsize date on the left instead of right. The slightly larger 39,5 mm houses a completely new automatic movement (L021.1) consisting of 426 parts and 67 jewels.
At Baselworld 2012, the absolute crown on the Lange 1 series was introduced: the 720.025 Tourbillon Perpetual calendar. Fitted in the 41,9 case, this tour-the-force reinvents the visualization of day and month, where the months are displayed in the outer ring. A great and rare watch, with a $341,000 price tag.
The 720.025 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar.
The Lange 1 series starts at 20000 euros, and the market value of pre-owned versions isn’t much lower. Lange 1 watches are always in high demand. Overseeing all the variations that have come to the market over the last almost 20 years, my personal favorite is still the original: ref. 101.021, 38,5 mm, yellow gold with silver dial. An iconic timepiece!