The annual SIHH (The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) keeps the flow of press releases going. This time, the Richemont-owned German watchmaker A. Lange & Sohne presents its stately Lange 1 Tourbillon. With its compact case crafted from the trademark, extremely scratch-resistant honey-colored gold, the new limited edition features an in-house hand-wound movement with “stop seconds” complication: a function, which as convenient as it is rare among the tourbillon timepieces.
Along with the new 1815 Moonphase (ref. 212.050) model that we have already briefly reviewed yesterday, this Lange 1 Tourbillon belongs to the gorgeous Homage to F.A.Lange collection. It was, too, officially presented to the stunned public a couple of days ago during the same SIHH 2010 trade fair.
In case you wondered, “F.A.Lange” stands for “Ferdinand Adolph Lange”: a German master-watchmaker, entrepreneur, and politician who also, together with his partner Friedrich August Adolf Schneider, happened to found “A. Lange, Dresden” manufacture and started the watchmaking tradition in that economically depressive region. He also turned the watchmaking into a real business with the division of labor and extensive use of scientifically-based industrial design.
Essentially, for the world of luxury watches, he was what Henry Ford was for the world of car manufacturing. So, the introduction of this particular collection is one of those extremely rare occasions when homage is well-deserved and not simply invented by a guy in the marketing department.
While many brands keep making their timekeepers larger and larger, this new model comes in a surprisingly compact body. Measuring just 38.5 mm in diameter and being less than 10 millimeters thick, it perfectly fits the “golden ratio” of a classic dress watch.
Perfectly executed and decorated, the watch also features a unique Lange L961.2 manufacture caliber that provides the dial with Lange’s signature off-centered hours and minutes display, as well as sports a laboriously finished one-minute tourbillon escapement with stop-seconds function.
Regrettably, this time the tourbillon bridge comes without the traditional hand engraving, which is possibly done to channel more attention the off-centered sub-dial that features a nicely executed guilloche pattern, a set of applied honey gold Roman numerals and hour markers and a tiny small seconds indicator between 7 and 8 o’clock.
As you probably know, all tourbillons have a serious disadvantage: due to their nature, these little pieces of technical marvel could not be stopped unless the mechanism completely runs out of juice. This practically makes it impossible to set the time to the second.
Lange’s new invention, a stop-seconds mechanism, successfully overcomes this flaw.
Made in their proprietary honey-colored hard-to-scratch (it has a Vickers hardness of 300 to 320HV, which makes it at least as hard as standard 316L surgical-grade stainless steel) gold alloy, the Lange 1 Tourbillon will be available only in a limited lot of 150 pieces.
Recommended street price* and delivery date are yet to be announced.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
* UPDATE ON PRICE: Okay, it looks like A. Lange & Sohne plans to sell the watch at around $170,000, which makes it one of the most expensive non-jewelry tourbillons on the market.
By the way, here is a short video that gives you the idea of how the tourbillon stop-seconds mechanism works. Enjoy!
Photos: A. Lange & Sohne
A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Tourbillon (Ref. 722.050) specification
Price range: $170,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber Lange L961.2, hand-wound, 381 parts, 51 jewels, 21,600 vph, in-house, 5.9 mm high, 30.6 mm in diameter, Made in Germany
Complications: Date, power reserve, one-minute tourbillon with stop seconds
Power reserve: 72 hours
Case: Honey-colored gold
Transparent back: Yes, sapphire crystal
Size: 38.50 mm
Case height: 9.80 mm
Dial: Solid gold, guilloched
Strap: Hand-stitched, red-brown crocodile strap, Lange prong buckle in solid gold
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflection coated
Water resistance: 30 meters