A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold “Homage to F.A. Lange”
It’s not everyday that you get to celebrate a milestone. In 2020, A. Lange & Söhne celebrated 175 years since its founding in 1845. In spite of the trials and tribulations that came with the year 2020, the Saxon brand put forth a great show with three mesmerising, celebratory timepieces. We’re talking about the 1815 Thin Honeygold, 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold, and the 1815 Tourbograph Perpetual Honeygold. Of the trio, it was the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold that won the most hearts – and rightly so. It isn’t just about its charming good looks, but also – being the most novel of the three anniversary watches – the number of gaps it fills in Lange’s catalogue. Here, we bring you the low-down and our thoughts on the new 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange”.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The case design of the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold is no different to the vast majority of other Lange watches because it’s all standardised. It is substantial in mass, fairly austere in looks, and yet, well-finished. It features a polished bezel, a brushed case middle, and polished lugs with bevels that taper off at the distal ends. On the flanks are three pushers for the split-seconds chronograph complication of the watch: the start/stop pusher at 2 o’clock, the reset pusher at 4 o’clock, and the rattrapante pusher at 10 o’clock.
Perhaps the most novel thing about the case is its material. This is the first time that Lange’s proprietary honey gold alloy is used on a chronograph watch. While honey gold is no longer a brand spanking new material, it still is fairly unique. It has a hue that looks somewhere between white and rose gold, and is quantifiably harder than traditional gold alloys. Honey gold is typically used by Lange only on special pieces; its use here on the celebratory 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange” is therefore unsurprising. Another matter to note about the case is that it measures 41.2 mm in diameter and only 12.6 mm in height, making it the thinnest and smallest split-seconds chronograph timepiece in Lange’s stable. Sure, there may be thinner split-seconds chronograph watches in the market, but at 12.6 mm thin, the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold will impress even the most cynical connoisseurs.
The dial of the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold is arguably the best part of the watch, and that’s saying a lot considering how spectacular every aspect of the timepiece is. Rendered in black, it contrasts stunningly against the golden hue of the case and hands. The end result is a timepiece that looks modern yet grounded in tradition. Printed with textural gold powder are the signature Arabic numerals, the various timekeeping tracks, the manufacturer’s marque, and the inscription “Glashütte in Sachsen”. There are six hands on the dial in total: four central ones for the running hours, running minutes, chronograph seconds and rattrapante; and two off-centre ones for the chronograph minutes and running seconds. One might be tempted to think that the dial would look cluttered with the different hands and scales all over the dial, but, quite the contrary, we feel that it is superbly well-balanced, with enough going on to keep things interesting, yet not so much as to undermine the dial’s elegance. Between the nostalgic “Glashütte in Sachsen” inscription and the granular nature of the print, we’d even go as far as saying that this is the best looking chronograph dial on a Lange watch since the brand’s revival in the mid-1990s.
Driving the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold is the new 365-part, 36-jewel Calibre L101.2, a calibre that might look a little familiar. Familiar, because it is based on the movement from the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar, the Calibre L101.1 – only without the perpetual calendar mechanism. The Calibre L101.2 has a power reserve of 58 hours when fully wound and operates at a stately 3 Hz frequency. At just 7.4 mm thick, this is currently Lange’s thinnest split-second chronograph movement. While its architecture isn’t quite as breathtaking as Lange’s Triple Split (at the time of writing, the world’s first and only split-seconds, -minutes, and -hours chronograph) movement, the more conservative dimensions of the Calibre L101.2 allows for the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold to look like an actual dress watch, and not a hockey puck (no offense to the Triple Split).
From a finishing perspective, the movement is superlative – perhaps to no one’s surprise since this is Lange we’re dealing with. The bridges have been afforded the anniversary treatment here, with their top surfaces given a granular, frosted finish instead of the usual ribbing. The upper sides of the moving parts of the chronograph, such as levers, springs and jumpers, are decorated with straight graining while the chamfers are polished. This would’ve proven to be particularly challenging given the many acute internal angles present. The hand-engraved motifs on the cocks and bridges as well as the engraved inscriptions are black rhodiumed. The dark hue of the galvanically applied coating adds a prominent touch to the engravings.
The Competitive Landscape
When you climb the mountain of horology, eventually, at the peak, you stumble upon watches like the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold. There, the air is thin and the company, rarefied. Indeed, few manufacturers in the world can produce a watch of the same calibre as the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold. For one, the split-seconds chronograph complication is one of the most, well, complicated to master. For another, Lange’s eye for detail when it comes to finissage is almost second to none.
The 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold is limited to 100 pieces only and boutique-exclusive. The price for such excellence? EUR130,000.
In a discussion about high-end split-seconds chronographs, one cannot go without mentioning Patek Philippe, because the illustrious Geneva manufacturer makes some of the finest in the world. Take for example the Ref. 5370P, a watch that took the watch world by storm when it was first introduced in 2015. The Ref. 5370, with its luscious enamel dial, applied Breguet numerals, and stunning Calibre CHR 29-535 PS was set for success from day one. It is perhaps the only watch directly comparable to Lange’s 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold in terms of design, finissage, and even size (down to the millimeter). The pricing, however, is not quite comparable; the Patek Philippe Ref. 5370 is priced in the ballpark of a quarter of a million US dollars, which works out to be around EUR200,000 – significantly more costly than the Lange.
For the ultimate in value for money – at least when it comes to high-end split-seconds chronographs – look no further than the Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph. There is much to love about this neo-vintage masterpiece. The spiral tachymeter on the dial, for example, is one thing; the cathedral hands, another. But where the true beauty of the watch lies is in the movement: the Calibre MB M16.31. The construction of the Calibre MB M16.31 is based on old Minerva pocket watch movements (hence it’s size and, subsequently, the 44 mm diameter of the case), is architecturally remarkable, and is excellently finished. The smoky red dial version of the watch (pictured below) is made in a limited edition of 8 pieces for Sincere Fine Watches, one of Montblanc’s biggest authorised retailers. The watch is priced at SGD51,000, meaning it costs only a fraction of the price of the Lange or Patek. It’s hard to argue against the immense value of the 1858 Split Second Chronograph, because it is easily the best of its kind at under USD100,000.
No matter how you slice it, the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange” echoes of quality through and through. It features the kind of thoughtful design and finesse found only in a Lange, with a touch of anniversary fancy of course. At the risk of sounding crass, the watch is actually quite fairly priced, and, interestingly, is 1 mm thinner than the gold standard Patek Philippe Ref. 5370 (which is quite a feat considering Langes tend to always be thicker than their Swiss equivalents). It may not have been a paradigm-shifting release, but the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold shows us that Lange’s still got it. Here’s to more amazing pieces from Germany’s finest in 2021.