By Harlan Chapman-Green

If I haven’t told you yet, recently myself and the Masthead of WristReview flew across Europe to the very German towns of Glashütte and neighbouring Dresden all thanks to the very friendly folks at A. Lange & Söhne who were very eager to meet us and show us around their home. While we were there were many exciting activities to be getting on with such as a walking tour of Dresden, dinner with the director of marketing and, in my case, having as many baths in the QF hotel’s glorious bathroom as I possibly could. Oh, also, along with these was a tour around the A. Lange & Söhne manufacture and an opportunity to go hands-on with some of the collection. If you want to read in depth about our trip to Germany, click here to visit the Masthead’s article about it.

Lange laid out all of their current watches to view, sadly though we couldn’t make the 30 minutes we had stretch to take pictures and get to know every watch in the collection, so instead we focused on some of the highlights. We’ve already covered the Lange 31 and the Terraluna, and now it’s time for one of my personal favourites to take the spotlight, the Zeitwerk collection. The Zeitwerk collection of watches all differs from every other watch in that the do not make use of hands exclusively to tell the time. Instead, the time is shown by means of a set of wheels under the dial with a mechanism similar to that of the Outsize Date being used to control them accurately.

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Each watch is completely handcrafted in Lange. Furthermore, they have a build process which assures ultimate accuracy in finishing. In essence, there are three steps to building a watch at A. Lange & Söhne, a pre-assembly, the first assembly and the final assembly with things happening in between each key stage. In the pre-assembly stage, the watch doesn’t look much like a watch at all, the parts are spread out and being hand made and treated in some instances. From there the parts are amalgamated into the hands of one specialist who conducts the first assembly. Remember, one person is in charge of the entire watch and it’s likely that’s all they’ll be doing. Anyway, they first assembly occurs and this is key as they need to make note of measurements and any adjustments that need to be made to the watch in order for it to be ready.

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Once the first assembly is completed, the watch is then disassembled. Not only are the adjustments that are needed to be executed onto the watch, but this is also the stage where decoration occurs. Those fine lines on the German silver movements and hand engraved balance cocks are put on ever so carefully by trained and skilled professionals. The watch is then ready for the final assembly where it’s all put back together again and the water seals are tested if present. The watch is almost ready to go then, it just needs a strap and a box.

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Imagine doing all of that with the Zeitwerk collection, it’s gonna take some time as there’s two different striking models to consider as well. In our hands-on we got the time and Striking Time in rose gold and the minute repeater was in white gold. All three are absolutely stunning pieces, take the time to visit an authorised dealer or boutique for the company and appreciate the levels of craftsmanship in these.
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On all three watches the time is key, as such there’s a bridge across the dial which encompasses the time windows and seconds hand as well as showing off a screw and jewel that are holding the movement in place. Above each of these, you’ll find what we’ve come to know as an Ab/Auf power reserve indicator, a signature touch on Lange watches which translates of Off/On and is something you really must see for yourself.
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The differences between the Striking Time and the minute repeater are subtle at best and you’d need to know what you’re looking for to see it. The gongs on the Striking Time stretch out around the inside of the case and the rappers are pointed so the striking surface is facing outwards. On a minute repeater, you’ll find the gongs hug the time bridge and then spread around the inside of the case. As such the hammers are pointing inwards towards the centre of the watch, there’s also a unique pusher at 10 O’clock on the case which activates the crisp and loud minute repeater on demand. The minute repeater in this as a different chiming sequence to the normal ones we’ve come to know and love. In this, the hours and minutes are the same, but instead of this watch chiming quarter hours with the double chime, it’s actually signalling ten-minute intervals. This, therefore, stands along with Breguet’s Tradition Minute Repeater (where the gongs strike upwards) as one of the most complex minute repeater systems around, and to prevent damage the minute repeater won’t work if the crown is pulled. Showing us just how German they are, Lange has put a tiny red dot on the power reserve indicator, it’s past this point that the Zetiwerk Minute Repeater will not chime the repeater function as it in a mechanical version of ‘power saving mode’ the thing we all dread on our mobile phones.

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The cases are well proportioned and weighed out well too meaning that the watch, despite being large and thick in precious metals is not top heavy in the slightest. Let’s put it this way, this is one of my favourite watches so I was wearing this (carefully) all through the time we had to look at the watches and never was I once concerned that it would slip around my wrist. Each piece was exquisite in its execution and a joy to be with. The watches are very expensive mind but they are going to last. I can’t put the feelings into words for you, this really is something you’d need to try for yourself. For more info, please visit alange-soehne.com

A big thank you once again to A. Lange & Söhne for being so welcoming of us on the tour and allowing us to contain our drool (almost in Jovan’s case) over their watches.