The new A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk watch, unveiled last month by the German brand, is one of the most daring and controversial (as well as immensely beautiful from the point of view of pure engineering) models from the German manufacture. Although not as deliberately high-tech as some wristwatches made by, say, Louis Moinet -another brand that is known for its audacious approach to industrial design- this new “digital” hand-wound watch will surely attract a lot of attention when the timekeepers finally go on sale later this year.
While the concept of a mechanical watch with a digital time display format is by no means new (a similar approach was used in the new IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month watch, but it only displayed the “date” and “month” reading in simple “DD” / “MM” format), the movement design is absolutely revolutionary and the watch itself is completely stunning in its gorgeous combination of explicitly simplistic exterior and a highly complicated (and extremely finely crafted) mechanism.
The A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk‘s main point of attraction is its huge (Being 33.6 mm in diameter, it leaves no vacant space inside the gorgeous 41.9mm case made either of 18-carat gold -rose or yellow- or of even more expensive platinum!) hand-wound Caliber L043.1 movement.
Developed and assembled in-house, comprising 388 parts and sitting on 66 synthetic jewels needed to reduce friction and increase available power reserve, the movement is designed in such a way as to ensure a simultaneous and instant jump of the three numeral discs, one of which displays hour and the others indicate minutes (see the image below).
Doing so requires an impressive -perhaps, even tremendous for such a tiny mechanism- amount of energy that must be unleashed at just the right time in a perfectly synchronized burst of energy needed to turn the disks with great speed. The German watchmakers decided that a compact secondary source of power, a so-called remontoire, will be the best way to store and deliver the needed energy.
Of course, it would have been extremely difficult to make a jumping digital indicator for the seconds display, so A. Lange & Sohne decided to leave it to the traditional small seconds hand located at 6 o’clock (I wonder if there are any plans to make an even more expensive version of the timepiece that would feature a tourbillon module acting as a small seconds indicator.)
Visually connected by the “Time Bridge” element made of German silver (untreated for the yellow and pink gold models and rhodiumed for the gold and platinum version) that the company seems to love so much, the whole display looks absolutely beautiful. However, the oversized power reserve indicator steals too much of the dial’s real estate, to my taste, without giving a lot in return.
Still, I must give the German engineers their due and admit that the indicator doesn’t look like an afterthought and plays quite nicely with other elements of the dial.
Sources say that the yellow gold model will sell for €38,000, the rose gold / white gold mix will be available for €42,000 and you will be able to buy the platinum version for approximately €59,000. Well, my wish list has just got one item longer.
Well, that is my opinion. What do you think about this watch?
Photos: A. Lange & Sohne
A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk hand-wound watch specification:
Price range: €38,000 — €59,000
Movement: Caliber L043.1, hand-wound, 18,000 vph, Made in Germany
Functions & Complications: Jumping hours and minutes, power reserve indicator, small seconds
Power reserve: 36 hours
Case material: Yellow Gold (Ref. 140.021), White Gold (Ref. 140.029), Pink Gold (Ref. 140.032), Platinum (Ref. 140.025)
Case diameter: 41.90 mm
Case height: 12.60 mm
Dial: Solid silver, sandblasted
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Hand-stitched crocodile strap with Lange prong buckle in gold or platinum
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective