Flashback: A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk at its launch in Berlin May 2009 (archive)

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The New A. Lange & Söhne – Zeitwerk May 2009

Zeit in German meaning time
werk meaning works


A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk

In October 1994, the Lange 1 burst into the scene and announced to the world that the Germans have arrived. The tour de force illustrated by the Lange 1, the Pour le Merite Tourbillon shook the world of horology. It was never the same again…the Swiss now have to be aware of the competition coming from their north.

Fifteen years later, Lange once again proved that they are the leaders. In a year of financial turmoil, they have showed their prowess by not launching one highly significant horological product, but two. In a year where many manufactures are holding back their significant pieces, Lange shows the way with two. They will also be delivering the Lange 31 and by year end, the second tranch of the Tourbograph in a new precious metal.

The Richard Lange Pour le Merite in enamel dial with fusee and chain announced in SIHH in January 2009 and was joined by the Zeitwerk which was launched in a beautiful event in Berlin.

I had earlier shown the teaser above…the uncropped image is as below, and would have given away the fact that the new watch had no hands…ok…it had a huge seconds hand, but it was not apparent in this picture.

The new watch is the new face for Lange, leading the way to the next generation…in Fabian Krone’s invitation, he hinted that this will be a big jump in horology…if you look back at my hints, I used this several times.

So what’s so special? Starting from the design language, this is the first digital mechanical watch with such large digital display, and which is laid in a line across as one would read the time. Others seem to be arranged vertically, and typically the digital displays are smaller.

Also, a bold frame in German Silver frames the huge jumping displays. BTW, these are early prototypes, the alignment of the disks would be adjusted in the final product so they are totally aligned.

Next the movement, of course is special. Not only is finished in traditional Lange style, it is fitted with a constant force mechanism which provide a constant force to the balance and improves timekeeping but also powers the jumping mechanism of the digital display.

A new patent was registered for the digital display – the way led by the Lange 1’s large date, the time display is huge.

The time change occurs quickly, on the dot when the seconds hand hit 12, and instantaneously. In time setting mode, turning the crown forwards also effect this change instantaneously, and backwards will cause the time to jump back instantaneously.




Housed in a magnificent case measuring 41.9mm in diameter and 12.5mm thickness lies the movement – Caliber L043.1, itself measuring 33.6mm in diameter and 9.3mm in height…and as usual for Lange, no movement ring is required…the movement is fitted right inside the case. The case is available in 4 metals – WG, YG, RG, Platinum. Each with its own dinctitive dial – black for WG, argenté for PG, champagne for YG, and rhodié for Platinum.

The movement…out of the case

In order to move the massive disks, a huge amount of power is required. And to supply this power, a very thick mainspring is used. This mainspring provides more torque than the Lange 31. Its shorter but thicker than the 31 spring.

If you remember the technical discussions on the Lange 31, the power of its mainspring is so strong that it will cause instantaneous and massive overbanking of the escapement. The problem was solved in the 31 with a remontoir, which is rewound by the mainspring once every 10s. And the small remontoir spring supplies near constant force to the escapement.

The bridge of the remontoir palet.

The same principle used to tame the power of the mainspring and also to provide constant force to the escapement. The remontoir is slightly different, and indeed carries a patent. This remontoir recharges once a minute, which suits the jumping mechanism just fine, as with each recharge instantaneously every minute, drives the jumping mechanism.

Movement has 66 jewels, 388 parts, and 2 gold chatons. 36 hour power reserve.

Part 2 of this report will be the technical discussion on how the remontoir works…fascinating stuff…so please stay tuned.


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