This A. Lange & Sohne Tourbograph Pour le Merite (Ref. 712.050) -a limited edition of the well-known Tourbograph- was first presented at the SIHH 2010 trade show. It is the third (and, alas, the last, but surely not least) member of the German watchmaking specialist’s Homage to F.A.Lange series of ultra-luxury timepieces. Offered at a price easily dwarfing that of a Rolls-Royce, this artifact looks more like Lange’s tour de force -an object whose primary objective is to demonstrate the brand’s engineering prowess- rather than a product designed to earn some extra cash.
The model that this limited edition is based on -the gorgeous hand-wound A. Lange & Sohne Tourbograph that combined a hand-crafted tourbillon module with a rattrapante chronograph- was, if memory serves well, first presented to the general public just over four years ago in December 2005 to great acclaim.
During those days the German brand celebrated the 15th anniversary of its re-establishment in 1990 when the impoverished communist-ruled Eastern Germany finally collapsed under its weight and opened itself to the market economy and substantial public and private money inflow from the West in general and the Federal Republic of Germany in particular.
Equipped with a high-precision fusee-and-chain transmission (not their own invention, but still a marvel of precise engineering that makes your normal tourbillon look like a child’s toy,) the mechanism offered superb isochronicity because the 636-part chain allowed for a constant transfer of power between the mainspring barrel and the going train compensating for the slowly diminishing torque as the spring barrel gradually unwinds.
The Tourbograph was the first collection in Lange’s history that combined a high-precision fusee-and-chain transmission with a rattrapante (aka “double”) chronograph complication.
Thanks to this device, a Tourbograph owner can always be sure that its watch will always tell the correct time, even if its mechanism is almost about to stop from the lack of energy (to prevent this from happening, the timepiece is equipped with a nicely executed power reserve indicator.)
For this year, A. Lange & Sohne has presented a special edition.
Its main difference from the original model is a honey-colored gold case, engine-turned dial and a beautifully decorated L903.0 hand-wound movement, which is perfectly seen through a sapphire glass-covered transparent case back.
The rest is more or less the same. The 712.050 still features a double-chronograph (aka “rattrapante”) function with a pair of central seconds hands and a 30-minute chronograph totalizer at 9 hours, which is beautifully counterweighted with a power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock. The laboriously finished tourbillon carriage (that’s why it is called TOURBograph) is neatly placed at 6 hours.
It is a pleasure to note that, instead of the usual tachymeter scale on the bezel flange, the dial features a clean, easy to read seconds track.
Only 50 of these watches will be ever made. A. Lange & Sohne plans to sell them at a stunning retail price of $500,000 (give or take.)
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Photos: A. Lange & Sohne
A. Lange & Sohne Tourbograph Pour le Merite (Ref. 712.050) specification
Price range: $500,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber Lange L903.0, 465 parts, in-house, 8.9 mm high, 30.0 mm in diameter, Made in Germany
Cadence of balance: 21,600 vph
Functions & Complications: Hours, minutes, small seconds, power reserve, rattrapante chronograph, one-minute tourbillon with fusee-and-chain transmission (the chain is made of 633 parts)
Power reserve: 36 hours
Case: Honey-colored gold
Transparent back: Yes, sapphire crystal caseback
Size: 41.20 mm
Case height: 14.20 mm
Dial: Solid gold, guilloched
Hands: Blued steel
Strap: Hand-stitched, crocodile strap, Lange prong buckle in solid gold
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflective coating
Water resistance: 30 meters