During the recent SIHH 2010 industry event the German watch maker has presented its new A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Chronograph (Refs. 402.032 & 406.026) hand-wound wound watch that combines a compact, elegantly shaped and finely decorated body with a state of the art in-house hand-wound movement. Reasonably priced (yes, the watch is quite expensive, but here I am not just taking into account the choice of materials and build quality of the mechanism, but also factor in all the expertise of a design team that have managed to create such an impeccable beauty while being constrained by all the requirements of a “classic luxury timekeeper” niche) and deceptively modest, it is, perhaps, one of the most interesting choices for a person looking for a modern luxury wristwatch with a nice vintage aura about it.
Inside its well-proportioned case, which is available both in pink (Ref. 402.032) and white gold (Ref. 406.026,) is hidden an in-house Lange L951.5 flyback chronograph movement.
Plates and bridges of the movement are made of German silver, which, a matter of fact, is not real silver but a silver-colored alloy of copper, nickel and zinc.
Being only 30.6 millimeters in diameter and 6.1 millimeters in height, the caliber allows for a rather compact casing of 39.5 mm and 10.8 mm respectively. Although the watch is slightly bigger than an (imaginary) golden standard of dressy timekeepers, I must admit that I still love its deliberately compact body that was designed not in order to impress people who have money, yet lack in the good taste department, but to create a true object of contemporary watchmaking art.
Like many their recently introduced timekeepers, the case features a three-part design with the front and rear bezels being mirror-polished and the middle ring featuring nice brushed surface that, too, greatly increased the timekeeper’s appeal.
As you can see on the pictures, the watch features a traditionally clean, easy to read dial. Crafted from solid silver, it sports a somewhat unusual version of the traditional bi-compax layout with the jumping minute chronograph counter* and small seconds sub-dials (they are located at 3 and 9 hours respectively) moved into the lower part of the face.
I am not sure whether the design adds anything to the chronograph’s legibility, but it certainly makes the watch look fresher and, well, different.
Regrettably, neither the hour markers, nor the hands feature even the slightest touches of Superluminova that could make the watch useable in darkness.
On the other hand, the lack of lume allowed the German watchmaker to use traditional heat-blued steel for all five hands that not only increased the gadget’s readability in in normal lighting, but also helped it stay true to the image of classic, vintage-inspired timekeeper that looks more elegant than even some deliberately, um, vintage-styled three-handers from the most respected Swiss watchmaking houses.
It is reported that the German watchmaker plans to sell the new A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Chronograph watch at an impressive price of $45,000.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
*UPDATE: Here is a pretty short video that lets you see the jumping minute chronograph counter in action. Enjoy.
Photos: A. Lange & Sohne
A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Chronograph (Ref. 402.032) watch specification
Price range: $45,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber Lange L951.5, hand-wound, 306 parts, 40 jewels, 18,000 vph, in-house, 6.1 mm high, 30.6 mm in diameter, Made in Germany
Complications: Flyback chronograph, stop seconds
Power reserve: 60 hours
Case material: 18-carat Pink gold (Ref. 402.032) or 18-carat White gold (Ref. 406.026)
Bezel material: Matches respective case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Transparent case back: Yes, sapphire crystal caseback
Case size: 39.50 mm
Case height: 10.80 mm
Dial: Solid silver
Hands: Blued steel
Strap: Hand-stitched, crocodile strap, Lange prong buckle in solid gold
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflective coating
Water resistance: 30 meters