After 11 years since the introduction of the first Lumen watch by A. Lange & Söhne, this October 24, the newest member – the Zeitwerk in Honeygold is released as the Lumen. This is our comprehensive, in-depth and definitive review of the new release.
The Zeitwerk was released in an event in Berlin in 2009. We covered the Lange Zeitwerk Launch in detail in this article.
The Definitive Review: A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Honeygold Lumen
Retail price is SGD 175,000 / EUR 114,000, inclusive of GST and German VAT. 200 piece limited edition for Boutiques only. The current standard Zeitwerk in pink gold and white gold has a retail of SGD 118,800.
The new release is the same case design but with a new movement as the original Zeitwerk released in 2009. And it also picks up on two key Lange innovations. The Lumen concept, and Honeygold.
Interestingly, the first Lumen watch made by Lange was also on a Zeitwerk. This version, featuring the now famous smoked sapphire dial and luminous numerals was released as a special limited edition of 100 pieces in a platinum case during SIHH 2010. This was dubbed “The Phantom” by enthusiasts. Lange later coined the name “Lumen” to be applied to the smoked dial with luminous material concept. Subsequently, the Lumen nomenclature was applied to the Grand Lange 1 in 2013, the Grand Lange 1 Moonphase in 2014, and the Datograph Up/Down in 2018. It makes its appearance again now in 2021, in the Zeitwerk.
Honeygold, was also first introduced in 2010, in the final tranche of 51 pieces of the Pour le Mérite Tourbograph. The first tranche of the Tourbograph was a limited edition of 50 pieces in platinum, released in 2005. This material was developed in a collaboration with a research facility, and initially Lange had exclusive access to the material for a time period. However, it appears that Lange have since purchased the rights fully, and Honeygold is now proprietary to Lange. Other than the beautiful hue of the metal alloy, it is also 75% gold (thus 18k) but is more resistant and harder than conventional gold. The Vickers hardness is measured at 300 HVI, compared to 160-195 HVI for standard 18k gold.
At launch in 2009, the Zeitwerk was available in 4 case metals – WG, YG, PG and Platinum. Each with its own dinctitive dial – black for WG, argenté for PG, champagne for YG, and rhodié for Platinum. The current Lange catalog only lists two options. A pink gold with the argenté dial, and a white gold in the black dial. And to this, the new Honeygold becomes the third member of the base Zeitwerk family, the first time this alloy is used in any Zeitwerk.
The case, dial and hands
The case remains the same as the other Zeitwerk base models. 41.9mm in diameter, in a solid Teutonic styling that Lange pulls off very well. This is a 3 part case, with a polished, sloped, slightly bombe bezel, a case middle with a brushed band and a brushed rear bezel engraved with the model designation. The Honeygold case imbues a warm character to the watch, and when combined with the dark dial, it is very attractive. The hand of the power reserve indicator and subsidiary seconds as well as the Lange prong buckle is made of the same material.
The Time Bridge design of the original dial also remains the same. The bridge is in German Silver, and takes center stage, framing the hour and minute numerals and the subsidiary seconds sub-dial. The hours and minutes are displayed in-line, and read from left to right in very large luminous numbers. The dial, as the Lumen designation indicates, is now a smoked sapphire glass, which has a darkened see-through effect. Within the chamfered apertures on the Time Bridge, the time display is shown clearly. Through the darkened sapphire, the discs for the hours and minutes is discernible in good lighting, fading gently into the background, in a peek-a-boo kind of way. The coated glass blocks the majority of visible light, making it appear very dark.
However, in the dark, as can be seen in the photograph under “Lumen”, the time indication numerals glow brightly as it is not covered by the coated smoked glass. While through the darkened glass, the other digits which is yet to be displayed and which had just passed can still be seen, but more dimly. The treatment to the glass allows ultralight to pass through undiminished, and allows the SuperLuminova painted on the digits to be charged while not in use.
The movement: caliber L043.9
The movement driving the new Zeitwerk Lumen is the caliber L043.9, which is the second generation of this illustrious movement. The Zeitwerk was released in 2009 with the caliber L043.1. This basic movement remains the same, with the still class leading in-line digital jumping hour and minute display, several refinements have been included.
The new movement now features a pusher at 4 o’clock for advancing the hour correction, This is a complex mechanism with a clutch which first decouples the hour ring from the jumping numerals mechanism each time the pusher is pressed. In the earlier iteration, adjusting the hour was only via the crown, requiring many turns to set the time. On the new L043.9, this ability to set the time in both directions by the crown is retained. This pusher was first introduced in the Zeitwerk Date in 2019. The new movement also features an increased power reserve of 72 hours, up from 36 hours.
In this second generation movement, the patented constant-force escapement controlling the complex switching processes remains. This remontoire handles two important functions: on the one hand, it generates the impulse for the jumping advance of the time display. On the other hand, it drives the balance with nearly uniform power across the entire run time. This keeps the amplitude constant, which has a positive effect on rate stability. The first watches released, circa 2009 to about 2011, feature a small jiggle on the minute indicators, about 8 seconds before the jump is initiated. This was a design feature, as power is handed over for the remontoire to effect the jump, thought to be necessary as the full power of the double barrel mainspring may be too strong. This was later worked out of the design, as Lange designers became more comfortable to transfer the power instantly. This kaizen style improvement, has been quietly implemented in all subsequent releases, and meant that a stable display is shown until the instantaneous jump at the top of each hour.
As usual, the Zeitwerk movement is a spectacle to be cherished. The finishing is top level, with brilliant execution. Ne plus ultra! Some critics have remarked that the standard Lange finishing is more showy than required for technical excellence, but we think this is what makes Lange such a darling of serious collectors. They leave no stone unturned to showcase superior finish. Indeed excellent craftsmanship is one of the tenets established by Günter Blümlein back in 1990 when he established the revived firm. And we are happy to report, still being religiously carried out in the Lange of today.
The new Zeitwerk Honeygold Lumen is a spectacular watch. No doubt about that. After all, Lange makes spectacular watches, almost exclusively. However, we submit that the Zeitwerk is perhaps more spectacular than most of its siblings. In 2009, when it was released, it was the showcased and paved the way for a new design language for Lange. It was groundbreaking in that till then, and up to today even, no digital jumping display watch is capable of showing the time which can be read in the normal fashion of left to right in an in-line manner. And no digital watch shows the time with such large numerals. And to this already very impressive base design, we add the Honeygold case and top up with the cream of the Lumen style dial.
The Zeitwerk Honeygold Lumen does carry a rather hefty premium over its lesser (though still magnificent) siblings. The pink gold and white gold versions with solid silver dials are still good propositions. But if one wants the ultimate base Zeitwerk, this new release is the answer. To our eyes, it is the most beautiful interpretation of this most unique of digital jumping display watch. Ever. Even more beautiful than the 2010 Phantom release in platinum. It must be the Honeygold. Gets us every time. So subtle, yet so beautiful. Sublime. Seductive. And with this, we submit the Zeitwerk Honeygold Lumen for your consideration.
Photographed at the Lange Boutique in Ion Orchard. Fujifilm GFX 50S II with Hasselblad HC 4/120 Macro and HC 2.8/80 + H26 Extension Tube via the H Adapter. Profoto strobes.
Lange Zeitwerk Honeygold “Lumen“ Ref. 142.055 Specifications
Movement: Lange manufacture calibre L043.9, manually wound, crafted to the most exacting Lange quality standards, decorated and assembled by hand; precision-adjusted in five positions; three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver; balance and escape-wheel cocks engraved by hand; minute jump via constant-force escapement
Movement parts: 462
Screwed gold chatons: 2
Escapement: Lever escapement
Oscillation system: Shock-resistant cam-poised balance; superior-quality balance spring manufactured in-house with patented balance spring clamp, frequency 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour, precision beat adjustment system with lateral setscrew and whiplash spring
Power reserve: 72 hours when fully wound
Functions: Time indicated in hours and minutes with jumping numerals, subsidiary seconds with stop seconds; power-reserve indicator
Operating elements: Crown for winding the watch and setting the time; pusher for rapid correction of the hour indication
Case dimensions: Diameter: 41.9 millimetres; height: 12.6 millimetres
Movement dimensions: Diameter: 33.6 millimetres; height: 9.2 millimetres
Crystal and caseback: Sapphire crystal (Mohs hardness 9)
Dial: Sapphire crystal, coated
Time bridge: German silver, black rhodiumed
Strap” Hand-stitched leather, dark brown
Buckle: Prong buckle in HONEYGOLD®
Limited edition: 200 watches, engraved limitation number
Special boutique edition