A. Lange & Söhne TOURBILLON Pour le Mérite is a watch very close to the hearts of the Deployant founders. I wrote a book on the family of watches which utilizes the fusee and chain as a method to equalize the torque of the mainspring. And when a piece unique comes to auction, it is very exciting indeed.
For the Christie’s auction Sale 1401, Lot 392 in Geneva May 12, 2014, one such watch came into auction. The sale description included a note which reference my book’s description of the piece unique, the Lange Ref 701.008, in a white gold case, black dial with applique markers. The reference is documented in A. Lange & Söhne : The Pour le Mérite Collection, page 87.
The watch, serial numbered 101/150, case number 110351 was sold at a hammer price of CHF437,000 including buyer’s premium. This is a world record for the modern Langes. The watch was purchased by one of our Deployant friends, and we are able to show you this most magnificent of timepieces here.
The story of the creation of the Ref 701, TOURBILLON Pour le Mérite is an interesting one, steeped in the history of the early days of the company. I cover it in detail in the book, but a brief account seems appropriate here. It was one of the 4 watches which were the first from the German watchmaker since they were revived. The unveiling of the watches happened in October 24, 1994 in Dresden Castle. The other watches which were unveiled to a rather shocked, and pleasantly surprised group of journalists and retailers were the Lange 1, the Arkade and the Saxonia.
The development of the Ref 701 and the movement caliber 902 started in the studios of Renaud et Papi. These were the early days of A. Lange & Söhne. Günter Blümlein and Walter Lange had just returned to Glashütte to restart the grand watchmaking firm founded by the latter great grandfather after German reunification. Their ambition was lofty to the extreme…to create the best mechanical watches in the world. Rivalling the best that the Swiss can produce. And wanting to make a big bang with 4 new watches, each with exquisite and exclusive movements, meant that there was much to do. in the short timeframe. The company had just been re-registered in the city of Dippolsdiwalde, near Glashütte on 7 December 1990, barely 4 years to the launch.
While the design and movement work for the Lange 1, Arkade and Saxonia was to be done completely in-house in Glashütte, Blümlein knew that in order to meet the tight datelines, some of the development work had to be done outside. He went to the team who helped him develop the IWC Grand Complication: Renaud et Papi. Guilo Papi was directly involved in the project, although the movement design team was led by Lange’s chief technical architect then, Reinhard Meis.
The prototype work was done in Le Locle, and the Lange technical team visited to review the design and functioning of the movement regularly. All 200 ebauches were delivered to Glashütte, and final finishing and second assembly was performed in-house.
Thus came to life, one of the most beautiful, most exquisite and most desirable of watches. Deployant salutes and congratulates our friend, who had won this magnificent watch in the recent auction.