A. Lange & Söhne’s Handwerkskunst timepieces raise the horological craftsmanship to the rank of art. Started in 2011, the Handwerkskunst Collection features the most exquisite finishes available. The watches possess not only the marvellous brand-specific decorations but much more than that – supreme finissage using almost forgotten traditional techniques. A. Lange & Söhne chose Florence, Italy as the location for this year’s release of the Handwerkskunst where the German watch brand presented the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst.
1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst
A. Lange & Söhne’s Handwerkskunst (literal translation is hand-made art) is the brand’s superlative collection. We reviewed Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, released at the 20th anniversary of the Lange 1. This year’s top of the range is represented by the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst. Even if we would see it from the simplest point of view, a rattrapante perpetual calendar is a complicated watch. Keeping in mind the brand’s usual élaboré decorating style and technique, what we expected the Glashütte maison to present a watch which is amazing. And by all means, the 2017’s Handwerkskunst is an example of pure horological art.
Wrist art as a daily useful tool watch?
Launched at SIHH 2013, the 1815 Perpetual Calendar Rattrapante was a magnificent appearance. The wrist marvel was well received, winning the Grand Complication category and the Public’s Choice Award at GPHG in 2013. We can only salute A. Lange & Söhne’s choice for a new Handwerkskunst.
The new watch comes in an 18K white gold case with a size of 41.9mm diameter and 15.8mm thickness. Considering the complexity of the movement inside, the case is decent in size. The execution is flawless, typical for Lange. A classic shape with crown and pushers perfectly balanced in size and position.
Turning the watch, we are welcomed by a hinged cuvette astonishingly decorated. A delicate engraving with the Moon goddess – Luna is surrounded by a light blue enamel work. The blue ring is filled with multiple heights of stars and clouds en relief (embossed) engraved.
The full hunter case back hides another incredible work, the calibre L101.1 More about it later in the article.
Looking back to the front of the watch, the dial is unusually crowded for a Lange piece. But we find the decoration to be quite handsome and the dial to have a lovely presence. The rattrapante chrono features white and yellow gold-plated steel central seconds hands completed by a 30-minute totalizer at 12 o’clock. This sub-dial also displays the power reserve indicator with the “Auf/Ab” German indication.
The full perpetual calendar sub-dials are in argenté-coloured white gold. Symmetrically placed, the dials at 3 and 9 o’clock show the month and leap year with the day of the week and date coaxially. The moon phase is accompanied by the running seconds. The minutes and seconds’ register offers an excellent legibility.
The background decoration conquers the view with engraved stars in a beautiful enamel background. As the substrate for this decoration, a piece of solid gold was used. The hours’ numerals are part of the sky-themed decoration being surrounded by enamel and embossed stars.
For the first time, Lange combines engraving and enamel decoration, and with a dazzling result. Moreover, the legibility is not being compromised by the decoration.
If you can untie your eyes from the dial and turn the watch, A. Lange & Söhne prepared another surprise on the back of the watch. Raising the Luna decorated hinge, a view to the calibre L101.1 reveals other marvels.
Another face of the Calibre L101.1
For the Handwerkskunst edition, the German maison took special time to enrich the purist decorations usually found on Glashütte’s movements. The multi-complications calibre is artistically decorated in the same starry night theme.
The manually wound L101.1 has 631 components, including 43 jewels and four screwed gold chatons. The now traditional well finished German silver plates and bridges feature in the Handwerkskunst extra decoration. Traditionally found in pocket watches, a granular finish can be observed on the train bridge. This is obtained by hammering, a technique rarely used in modern watchmaking. The cover and chronograph bridges have embossed stars and tremblage engravings. Of course, anglage is met everywhere. More details about this decorating techniques can be read in our reportage about the Lange Akademie.
The dual column wheels, the scissors jaws of the split-second arresting mechanism are all flawlessly designed and beautifully executed and finished.
It’s incredible how an already perfect movement can be enriched in a cosmic manner.
1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst Specification and price
Reference 421.048FE is limited to 20 pieces and has a retail price of EUR290,000.
Movement: Calibre L101.1
Type: mechanical self-winding movement, 631 parts
Dimensions: 32.6mm x 9.1mm
Frequency: 3 Hz
Power reserve: 42 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds, moon-phase, perpetual calendar, rattrapante chronograph (split seconds), power reserve.
Material: 18k White gold
Dimensions of the case: 41.9mm x 15.8mm
Crystal: sapphire with anti-reflective coating
Crown: with gold
Caseback: white gold hinged cuvette with engravings and blue enamel, see-through sapphire
Material: Hand-stitched alligator leather, blue-grey with grey seam
Buckle: white gold deployant clasp