The Grand Lange 1 went on a slimming trip, retaining the 41mm case diameter, but shedding 0.6mm in the process. Here is our hands-on take on the new piece.
Review: musings on the new and slimmer Grand Lange 1
The retail price for the new Grand Lange 1 is SGD 68,200 inclusive of GST.
The Lange 1 is an icon. Not only in the chequered history of A. Lange & Söhne, but one for the entire watchmaking industry. The layout is unique, and perhaps one of the earlier explorations of an off centred, asymmetric dial layout. We discuss the watch in considerable detail several times, and the Lange 1 made it to our The Vertical Collection: A. Lange & Söhne.
A larger Lange 1 was introduced in 2003, and the first Grand Lange 1 had the same dial dynamics, but the diameter of the case is increased from 38.5mm to 40.9mm, with no change in the L901 movement. This meant that the pivot points for the hands remain at the same positions, but the dial has grew by a significant 2.4mm. And required a compromise of one of the basic tenets of the Lange 1 – no overlapping dials. The original Grand Lange 1 was the subject of ridicule by many collectors then, though these days, it has managed to regain some composure, and secondary prices have seen some reprieve. So it is with great interest and pleasure when we reported on the 2012 revamp of the Grand Lange 1.
I was caught by Wilhelm Schmidt…CEO of ALS…he pulled his sleeve and showed me his watch…he grinned…”new watch”…I looked at it and I said…”um…old watch…its a Lange 1″. He grinned even more widely and said, “no, new watch”…
I said again, staring at the watch…”um…no…old Lange 1″…when he broke out…”its the new Grande Lange 1″…wow! The proportions were beautiful…looked exactly like the old Lange 1.Our 2012 SIHH report.
In the 2012 revision, the movement was revised to the L095, and featured adjusted pinion positions, such that the sub-dials no longer overlap. Also, perhaps as importantly, the new movement was fitted with the in-house inertia escapement. Power reserve was reduced from the 96 hours to a more modest, but still long 72 hours. As we said in the 2012 article, we considered this redesign to be a triumph.
So when we received the release information on the new Grand Lange 1 this year, we somehow neglected it. Pardon us for this oversight. The watch looked rather similar to the 2012 version, which proportionally looked like the regular sized Lange 1. But when we went for the Singapore touch and feel handling session recently, we realised this might be an interesting new watch. Wilhelm Schmid, CEO of Lange told us that it is perhaps his favourite of the novelties for 2022. So what is this new Grand Lange 1, now the Ref. 137 vs Ref. 117?
What has not changed?
First what has not changed. The movement remains the same. This is the hand wound L091.5, which first started development in 2005, and was used in the 2012 revised Grand Lange 1. This movement has only one mainspring barrel compared to the “Doppelfederhaus” – double barrel of the L901 which it replaced. The power reserve is 72 hours.
Second, the maniacal attitude to finishing and the elaborate decoration is unchanged. As is the double assembly, the untreated German Silver three quarter plate. The magnificently beautiful gold chatons holding the rubies which are affixed by blued screws are the same. The dial, hands and case remain the exacting quality that is demanded by Lange all these years remain the same. Ultra high quality, and superbly beautiful.
What also remains are the three references in the thicker 8.8mm case in pink gold, white gold and platinum.
What is new?
What has changed to allow the Grand Lange 1 to slim down? Well, at first glance 0.6mm might not seem much, but considering that the movement remain unchanged, it is a rather large slimming exercise. How is this achieved? Well the dial is where it at. The appliqués are thinner. The arbour is shorter, the indices are thinner. By 50%!!
Also new is the grey dial, in the Lange standard solid silver. The grey dial has an interesting rough texture on the base, with the usual concentric circle decoration for the two sub-dials. Two case options are available, and these are in 18k pink gold and in 18k white gold.
On the wrist, the watches feel significantly different from the earlier versions, even though the thickness only reduced by 0.6mm. The new watch feels much slimmer than the dimension suggests, or even visible, as is seen in this juxtaposition of the old and new shown below.
But wear comfort improved. As is the ability of the watch to slip under the cuff. Offering a understatement that only the noble can oblige.
This novelty is a superb example of the quiet and constant improvement by the team at Lange. We guess, nobody complained that the Grand Lange 1 (2012) was too thick…well, at least we didn’t. But the team saw an opportunity to improve the comfort and wearability, they went ahead to do it. Lange is not known for ultra thin watches, unlike Piaget, or Bvlgari. Their slim watch was called Saxonia Thin, and not Saxonia Ultra Thin. The teutonic feel of a German product often requires it to have some heft, and dimensionality.
But all said, the new Grand Lange 1 Ref.137 are superb watches. The cynical may point out that the pricing has swelled from SGD 62.2k to SGD 68.2k for a slimmer watch. Both the new, slimmer version in white gold and pink gold with grey dials are available side by side as the original 8.8mm thick version in pink gold with a argenté dial, in white gold and a black dial or in platinum with a rhodié dial. You have the option to make your own choice and to draw your own conclusions.