The new dressy A. Lange & Sohne 1815 collection brings to the table the usual mix of craftsmanship and technical ingenuity that the German brand is associated with. Combining a painstakingly decorated hand-wound caliber with a compact body, which is now available in three colors of 18-carat gold, and a laconic solid silver dial the new members of the collection easily become dress watches of choice for men who don’t limit their options only to timepieces bearing the usual “Swiss Made” inscription on their faces.
Following the current “downsizing” trend, the German maker of luxury wristwatches keeps gradually shrinking dimensions of its own timekeepers. At least, at the beginning of the year, their well-known dressy collection “1815” has been updated with a model that measures just 38.5 millimeters in diameter: very close to the golden standard of the niche.
Presented at SIHH 2014 in yellow (ref. 235.021), white (ref. 235.026) and rose gold (ref. 235.032) cases, the watches bear all the elements of the family DNA, they are just smaller.
Although their Swiss-based competitors often equip their gold watches with hands featuring the same precious alloy, which often makes it a bit difficult to read time at certain lighting scenarios, the German brand probably thinks that their discerning customers just can’t have that and offers them a lot more contrast color scheme. As you can see on the pictures, their solid silver dials are equipped with heat-blued steel hands that look extremely contrast and easy to see even in dim light.
Of course, the lack of a luminous compound on the indicators and hour markers significantly detracts from the timekeeper’s nighttime legibility, but this is certainly a price I would be willing to pay to have such a beautiful device on my wrist. It is the combination of carefully chosen fonts for the Arabic numerals, and the finely printed railway-track minute scale, and the mirror-polished ultra-thin bezel that frames them that make the gadget an accessory for people that actually have a real taste.
Quite predictably, since this is just a face-lift, not a whole new generation of the collection, the 2014 A. Lange & Sohne 1815 is powered by the same Caliber L051.1 hand-wound movement that also animated the 40 mm timekeeper that the brand has issued back in 2005.
Still beautifully finished with heat-blued screws and the three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver and featuring the brand’s version of the ubiquitous Geneva stripes (and of course their traditional hand-engraved balance cock), it in fact makes an even stronger impression than the version that powered the 40 mm model: as usual, small movements shine when put in smaller bodies and displayed proudly through a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
Perhaps, the only thing I don’t like here is the price, but, then again, timepieces made by A. Lange & Sohne have never been cheap. There is just too much skilled labor behind them to be any less expensive. And every bit of this labor shows in every detail, both visible and hidden under layers of finely decorated metal.
Photos: A. Lange & Sohne
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Hand-Wound 38.5mm watch specification
Price: $25,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Manual, Caliber L051.1, 188 components, in-house, Made in Germany
Number of jewels: 23
Movement frequency: 21,600 vph
Power reserve: 55 hours
Movement decoration: three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver, a hand-engraved balance cock, thermally blued screws
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Case material: Yellow gold (Ref. 235.021) / White gold (Ref. 235.026) / Rose gold (Ref. 235.032)
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 38.50 mm
Case height: 8.80 mm
Lug width: No data
Dial: Solid silver
Numerals: Arabic, black
Hour markers: Dots
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Hand-stitched crocodile strap in medium-brown, black or red-brown on gold prong buckle matching color of the body
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire