A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon, a model which was discontinued now returns in Handwerkskundst guise. Limited edition of only 30 pieces. Exclusive photographs with press release info and commentary.
A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskundst
Retail price is SGD 475,000 (inclusive of Singapore GST) / EUR 315,000 (inclusive of German VAT) . In comparison, the launch model in platinum had a retail price of EUR 250,000.
The Cabaret Tourbillon was discontinued after a rather lackluster commercial run, and thought to be dead. But it returns this Northern Summer 2021, and comes back with a vengeance – now upgraded to Handwerkskundst guise. In Lange-speak this special moniker is only given to watches which have been given exceptional additional craftman’s embellishments. The usual French term applicable is Métiers d’Art.
We covered the original Cabaret Tourbillon launch in 2008 in detail, with this report here.
And at launch, the Cabaret Tourbillon had the exceptional distinction of being the first tourbillon ever to feature a stop mechanism. This was executed in typical Lange style – with exacting German precision, and absolutely remarkable that a practical improvement is made to a device (the tourbillon) after more than 200 years. The tourbillon was first developed around 1795 and patented by the French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet on June 26, 1801.
This craftsmanship is evident from the first look. The dial is now in 18-carat white gold compared to sterling silver for the original, though this is not easily seen. But the dial is finished in grey with a framed cartouche in the center which showcases the hand-engraved lozenge pattern. The entire dial is covered in a semi-transparent enamelling. The dial layout remains unchanged.
The movement caliber is unchanged from the launch model, and remains the caliber L042.1, but now finished differently. The handwerkskundst treatment comes in the form of a frosted 3/4 plate finish instead of the Glashütte ribbing applied to the launch model Ref. 703.025 in platinum. The new model is Ref. 703.048.
Of particular note is the hand engraved cocks, of which there are two – one holding the pivot of the third wheel which drives the tourbillon, and the other holding the tourbillon carriage’s pivot. Both feature the lozenge pattern also seen on the cartouche on the dial. These geometric patterns are particularly challenging to execute by hand. On close examination of dial cartouche and the two cocks, they appear to be in perfect alignment, and true to the repeating rhomboid pattern.
On the wrist, the new watch wears exactly the same as the original, with the case measuring 29.5 x 39.2 x 10.25 mm. The tourbillon model is larger than the non-tourbillon Cabaret Ref. 107, which measures 25.5 x 36.3 x 9.1 mm.
A quick note on the pricing to close our commentary section. Take the base price for the platinum model which had a retail of EUR 250k in 2008. If we take the German inflation compound rate of an average of 1.2% YTY from 2008 to 2020, the EUR 250k becomes EUR 292k, leaving the handwerkskundst premium to be EUR 23k. This seems to us to be a reasonable ransom for the amount of additional craftsmanship lavished on the watch/ But, of course is a decision that only the prospective buyer can and must contemplate.
The CABARET TOURBILLON is a milestone in the history of precision watchmaking. It was with this watch that A. Lange & Söhne succeeded in 2008, for the first time, to instantaneously stop the balance inside the rotating cage – and instantly restart it by pushing the crown home. It is based on Lange’s only rectangular model, which, since its launch, has stood for extravagance as well as for a distinctive movement philosophy: the CABARET. Limited to 30 pieces, the CABARET TOURBILLON HANDWERKSKUNST places special emphasis on its artistic aura. The seventh model of the HANDWERKSKUNST series launched ten years ago is characterised by the artistic and artisanal qualities of the elaborate finissage of the dial and the movement, with the lozenge chosen as the signature design element.
Combination of traditional craftsmanship disciplines
The three-part dial of the CABARET TOURBILLON HANDWERKSKUNST is made of solid white gold and is crafted in the manufactory. The inner area with the typical Lange outsize date is manually engraved with a lozenge pattern. This regular motif sets a challenge to the engraver as every small deviation is instantly visible. It is inspired by the six lozenge-shaped hour markers in gold that face the centre. Together with the Roman numerals III, IX and XII, they stand in the outer zone of the dial with a delicate surface that serves as a stage. A thin line decorated with tremblage visually separates the dial parts from one another. This engraving technique also graces the frame of the hand eye and of the date aperture. The dial is coated with a semi-transparent enamel layer that adds extra depth to the engraving and showcases various metallic shades of grey. The result is an outstanding dial with a three dimensional effect.
The separately integrated subsidiary dials for the small seconds and the power-reserve indicator, which at A. Lange & Söhne is traditionally executed with the UP/DOWN display, consist of rhodium-coloured gold; the hands are made of rhodiumed gold. An aperture in the dial reveals the one-minute tourbillon which is suspended between two diamond endstones. On its top side, the matt-finished tourbillon bridge has a black polishing that is applied using a technique that ranks among the most difficult types of finissage.
A rectangular case in platinum measuring 29.5 by 39.2 millimetres forms the precious frame for the new exclusive version of the first tourbillon with a stop-seconds mechanism. It is graced with a deployant buckle in platinum and a black leather strap with grey contrast stitching.
Progress by standstill
The manually wound calibre L042.1 of the CABARET TOURBILLON HANDWERKSKUNST has a twin mainspring barrel that delivers a power reserve of 120 hours. It is a masterpiece of technology and craftsmanship. It is composed of 370 parts, of which no fewer than 84 are integrated in the filigreed tourbillon that weighs only a quarter of a gram. The movement owes its historic significance to a tiny component that transformed it into a milestone of precision watchmaking.
In 2008, more than 200 years after the invention of the tourbillon, A. Lange & Söhne showed how an oscillating balance inside the rotating cage can be stopped to set a tourbillon timepiece to the precise second. By pulling the crown, a complex lever mechanism is triggered that pivots a movable V-shaped spring onto the balance wheel rim. The balance stops instantaneously, even if one of the spring arms is in contact with one of the three cage posts. The special geometry of the spring assures that the pressure imposed on the balance is always correctly dosed, regardless of the position of the cage. An advantage of this design is that it preserves the potential energy of the balance spring so that the balance can restart instantly as soon as the arresting spring is retracted when the crown is pushed home.
Measuring 22.3 by 32.6 millimetres, the form movement of the CABARET TOURBILLON HANDWERKSKUNST is tailored to the rectangular shape of the case. In comparison with the 2008 version, it has a new indexless oscillation system with a Lange balance spring. The lozenge motif of the dial is echoed by the black-rhodiumed engravings on the tourbillon and intermediate wheel cocks, creating a visual bridge between the dial and the movement side. Simultaneously, the interplay of colours from silver and grey hues initiated on the dial is enriched by a further nuance. The train-wheel bridge in untreated German silver has a subtle granular surface inspired by the movements of historic pocket watches. It accounts for six of the total of nine screwed gold chatons. Two further ones are located on the tourbillon and intermediate wheel cocks, and one is integrated in the tourbillon bridge on the dial side. The winding train, decorated with solarisation, is visibly integrated in the plate. The engraved inscriptions on the plate are black-rhodiumed as well. A limitation engraving on the case back indicates the rarity of the horological masterpiece.
Two more new releases for Summer: The Langematic Perpetual and Saxonia Thin.
Also released in this package are two additional novelties. We will cover them in detail tomorrow.
CABARET TOURBILLON HANDWERKSKUNST Ref. 703.048 Specifications
Lange manufacture calibre L042.1, manually wound, crafted to the most exacting Lange quality standards, decorated and assembled twice by hand; precision-adjusted in five positions; three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver; tourbillon and intermediate wheel cocks engraved by hand
370, of which 84 for the tourbillon
45, as well as two diamond endstones
Screwed gold chatons 9
Shock-resistant screw balance; balance spring manufactured in-house, frequency 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour
120 hours when fully wound
Time indicated in hours, minutes, and subsidiary seconds; one-minute tourbillon with stop seconds; UP/DOWN power-reserve indicator
Crown for winding the watch and setting the time; recessed push piece for correction of the date
29.5 × 39.2 × 10.3 millimetres
22.3 × 32.6 × 6.4 millimetres
Crystal and caseback
Sapphire crystal (Mohs hardness 9)
18-carat white gold, grey with hand-engraved lozenge pattern, semi-transparent enamelling
Hands and appliques
Hand-stitched leather strap, black with grey seam
Deployant buckle in 950 platinum
30 watches, engraved limitation number