First unveiled back in 2009, the gorgeous “digital” Zeitwerk has already survived a number of limited editions. Now, the German brand reintroduces the timekeeper as A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst (Ref. 140.048) adding to the mix a new dial that successfully combines rhodium-plated white gold and their signature “German silver” alloy: the centuries-old mixture of copper, nickel, and zinc that allows you to make a greyish-white metal that is easy to work with and, when finished properly, looks great, too.
The main selling point of this particular iteration is, of course, the dial. This limited edition has a face fashioned from German Silver alloy and then decorated using the same famous “tremblage” engraving technique that, among many other watches introduced by Lange during a recent couple of years, was also employed in the making of the stunningly beautiful 2011 Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Merite” Handwerkskunst (761.050).
The German watchmaker was resurrected by Richemont SA from the ashes of East Germany’s collapsed economy. It now has plenty of highly skilled master engravers that, by using special machines, are able to create seemingly chaotic patterns that give the treated surface an absolutely mesmerizing feel of depth. In fact, Lange’s artisans have mastered the technique to such a degree that they manage to control the machines with stunning precision somehow not damaging the small inscriptions on the dial, even including the tiny “AB” and “AUF” letterings near the horseshoe-shaped power reserve indicator at 12 hours.
I frankly don’t know how many hours it takes to finish each dial, but the result looks stunningly impressive. This is not just a piece of sheet metal from some “legendary” sports car that was simply glued to the dial and sold at a premium: this one is a work of art.
As usual, the dial features the trademark “Time Bridge” element. Crafted from the aforementioned “German silver”, the part visually unites the jumping hours and minutes indicators at 9 and 3 o’clock respectively, as well as the subsidiary seconds indicator at 6 hours that balance the whole composition.
Of course, the real star here is the Lange L043.4 hand-wound caliber. Comprising 425 parts and featuring whole 68 jewels, this movement beats at a slow pace of just 18,000 vibrations per hour and still stores only so much energy to keep the watch ticking for just 36 hours after being fully wound.
The main reason behind this is, as may have already guessed, a terrible amount of energy that needs to be released each time any of the three indicators makes an instant jump.
Traditionally for the brand, the movement is not simply assembled by hand but is also painstakingly decorated by the brand’s skillful artisans.
According to Lange’s press release, the model will be limited to just 30 pieces and will possibly cost like a fully-packed Porsche 911 Turbo*.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
* UPDATE ON PRICE: Oh, it will only cost €95,500! What a relief.
Photos: A. Lange & Sohne
A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst in Platinum (Ref. 140.048) specification
Price: €95,500 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-wound, Lange caliber L043.4, in-house, hand-made, Made in Germany
Number of jewels: 68
Movement frequency: 18,000 vph
Power reserve: 36 hours
Movement decoration: Decorated by hand, Glashütte lever escapement, lever and escape wheel made of 18-karat gold
Functions: Jumping hours and minutes, small seconds, power reserve indicator
Size: 41.90 mm
Case height: 12.60 mm
Dial: White gold, rhodium-plated
Hands: Gold, rhodium-plated
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Hand-stitched black crocodile leather strap with Lange-prong buckle in platinum
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective