An expert introduction to one of the most important names in German watchmaking history — illustrated with previously sold pieces and standout offerings from the 6-20 September Christie’s Watches Online sale
In the world of modern haute horology,
A. Lange & Söhne — manufacturer of some the world’s
most exciting timepieces — is today regarded as one of the
finest names in watchmaking.
The origins of A. Lange & Söhne
In 1845, A. Lange & Söhne’s founder Ferdinand Adolph Lange
opened a watchmaking facility in the town of Glashütte, in
Saxony, Germany. There he produced meticulously crafted pocket
watches that could easily hold their own against any similar
Swiss timepiece. Thanks in part to Lange’s innovations, watchmaking
is now an integral part of Glashütte’s culture and economy.
During the Second World War Lange & Söhne, like other German
watch manufacturers, focused on producing readily legible
designs intended for military use, putting the production
of ornate, high-end timepieces on hold. But the house fell
on hard times at war’s end when, on the final night of the
war, a bomb destroyed A. Lange & Söhne’s main production
The launch of the iconic Lange 1
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Glashütte
family business was revived by Walter Lange, Ferdinand Adolph
Lange’s great-grandson. Under Walter’s leadership, A. Lange
& Söhne released the iconic Lange 1 in 1994. It is the timepiece
for which the house is now best known and marked the beginning
of a new era for the company.
Incorporating the time, seconds, power reserve, and a digital date display, the Lange 1 clearly demonstrated the watchmaker’s prowess while maintaining a subdued aesthetic. This horological ethos can be seen in every detail of the watch, down to the stately 38 mm case size.
A. Lange & Söhne: famed for its chronographs
Aside from the Lange 1 collection, the German watchmaker is
perhaps best known for its chronographs, namely those featuring
the Cal. L951.1, which have been described by top watchmakers
as true works of art. Most notably incorporated into the
Datograph, and 1815 Chronograph, this calibre is widely revered
for its aesthetic and mechanics.
A. Lange & Söhne has
also started making ultra-complicated versions of its flagship
chronograph, such as the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon,
which nevertheless adhere to Lange’s clean and elegant design
An experimental approach to horology: the Terraluna and Zeitwerk collection
Lange’s experimental philosophy is evidenced by some of its uniquely complicated timepieces.
With pieces like the Terraluna, Lange reinvented the moonphase
complication altogether, developing an ‘orbital moonphase
indicator’ that enabled wearers to track the alignment of
the earth, moon and sun.
This innovative spirit can also
be seen in the brand’s Zeitwerk collection, which combines
a digital-style display with an impressively finished, manually
wound calibre at its heart. In November 2014, the 2011 Zeitwerk below sold for the equivalent of approximately US$220,000 in Hong Kong.
Elegant solutions for those looking for larger timepieces
Much of Lange’s recent success can be attributed to the fact
that while the company has always been deeply focused on
the perfection of an age-old craft, it has also kept up with
modern tastes. Of all the watchmakers in business today,
few have handled the shift to larger timepieces more successfully
than A. Lange & Söhne, which has provided elegant solutions
for those in search of a slightly more substantial watch
without abandoning the house’s classic aesthetic.
The Grande Lange 1 perfectly exemplifies this successful navigation
of trends. First released in 2003 and updated in 2012, the
Grande Lange 1 features the same sophisticated mechanical
calibre, essential striking design and pleasing proportions
that made the original Lange 1 so celebrated, in a slightly
larger, 41 mm case.
Today, A. Lange & Söhne timepieces are more sought-after
than ever. In just over two decades, the firm’s mechanical
innovations and already-iconic design language have pushed
the envelope, defining what a modern high-end timepiece ought