Review: The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange”

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A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange”

Exactly 175 years ago, a certain Ferdinand Adolph Lange, then only 30 years old, set out to create what would become a beacon of fine watchmaking not just in Germany, but the entire world: A. Lange & Söhne. This year, on the 175th anniversary of the brand, A. Lange & Söhne has released a triumvirate of celebratory timepieces, all of which are rendered in the equally celebratory ‘honey gold’, a proprietary alloy usually reserved for special pieces. Out of the three, the new 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange” stood out as the simplest and most elegant. The watch can be taken as a hybrid between the regular 1815 and Saxonia Thin models. It retains the design language of the 1815 but also gains the slimness and cleanness of the Saxonia Thin. The end result is nothing short of praiseworthy, at least in our opinion. Here, we bring you the low-down and our thoughts on the new 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange”.

The Case, Dial, and Hands

The design of the 1815 Thin case is typical Lange: polished bezel, brushed case band, simple in design, and well-finished overall. As the name would suggest, the 1815 Thin is, well, thinner than the standard issue 1815 model. In fact, at just 6.3 mm in height, the 1815 Thin is the slimmest watch in the 1815 family. Everyone loves a thick Lange, but a thin one once in a blue moon can be refreshing. Combine that slim profile with a diameter of only 38 mm and you have the dressiest 1815 reference in the collection. And it’s not just the size of the watch that makes it stand out, but also its case material: honey gold. Honey gold may not be novel anymore to those in the know but the alloy is still used rather sparingly by Lange, only for its limited edition, special timepieces. Harder than regular gold alloys, honey gold has a unique hue that can best be described as a mix between white and pink gold.

In spite of being an anniversary model, the case of the 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange” is still Lange’s standard issue with the notable exception of it being made in honey gold.

But that’s not all. While the visage looks deceptively similar to that of previous iterations, there are in fact two very important differences to note in this anniversary model. The first is that this dial is actually enamel which, as you can probably guess, is usually saved by Lange for special edition watches. Enamel dials, as they tend to be, are known for their smooth luster – the dial of the 1815 Thin Honeygold is no different. The iconic Arabic numerals and railroad-style minute track that stand on the foreground are made ever more striking because of the pristine nature of the dial. The other key distinction found in this celebratory timepiece is that it is the only 1815 model in the current catalogue to not possess a seconds hand. Being a two-handed watch, the 1815 Thin Honeygold is the purest, most minimalist dress watch from the 1815 family. It’s not quite as barren as the Saxonia Thin, but then again nothing else is. The 1815 Thin Honeygold, in our opinion, strikes the perfect balance between being clean enough to be dressy and interesting enough to stare at.

The dial of the 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange” has a remarkable pearlescent quality thanks to its white enamel layer.

The Movement

Driving the 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange” is the familiar 167-part, 21-jewel Calibre L093.1. The manually wound movement has a power reserve of 72 hours and operates at a stately 3 Hz frequency. And yes, this is the same movement used in the Saxonia Thin models except more dressed up for the occasion.

The Calibre L093.1 as seen through the sapphire crystal case back.

Where there would usually be Glashütte ribbing is now frosted, similar to what can be found in some old Lange pocket watches by F. A. Lange. The engravings on the three-quarter plate are also blackened here instead of being filled with gold. Other decorative aspects of the movement, however, remain unchanged, including the black polished swan neck regular, blued screws, gold chatons, polished chamfers, perlage, and of course, the hand-engraved balance cock.

Movement finishing is really what makes a Lange a Lange. The wheels have a uniform circular grain on their top surfaces, while each and every tooth has been beveled and polished. The three-quarter plate is adorned with a frosted finish specifically to distinguish the movement as part of an anniversary model.

The tell-tale sign of a Lange watch: the hand-engraved balance cock.

The Competitive Landscape

Time-only watches are easy to produce but difficult to perfect. Due to their simplicity, any design or technical flaws are laid bare and magnified. Suffice to say, the 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange” is as close to perfect as it gets. It’s got the right proportions, a special case and dial, sublime finishing inside out, and a unique reason to exist: to mark the 175th birthday of A. Lange & Söhne. Of course, such excellence comes at a price: a hefty EUR32,200. In comparison to the Saxonia Thin which it shares a calibre with, the 1815 Thin Honeygold, limited to 175 pieces, is over twice as costly. But as Lange watches go, this doesn’t mean that the Saxonia Thin is only half the quality.

The 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange” cuts an elegant figure on the wrist. It is beaten in slimness only by the Saxonia Thin, which doesn’t have an enamel dial.

Quite the contrary, the Saxonia Thin is just as well finished as the 1815 Thin Honeygold. That’s because Lange standardises the level of finishing on every single one of its watches. An ‘entry level’ Lange, like the Saxonia Thin, is afforded the same level of attention to detail as something like the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual. The main difference between the Saxonia Thin and the 1815 Thin Honeygold is that the former has a much more austere dial, making it the ultimate Lange dress watch. That said, many would see the 1815 Thin as an improved version of the Saxonia Thin, because it just looks more interesting than the latter. But at the end of the day, the value for money offered by the Saxonia Thin cannot be denied; at ‘only’ EUR15,100, the Saxonia Thin is in a league of its own.

The Saxonia Thin is the epitome of minimalism and austerity. It is as pure as a dress watch can get in the modern era of watchmaking.

For something a little more ornate, look no further than Breguet’s Classique 5157. The Classique 5157 is filled with Breguet signature elements from top to bottom. Take for instance, the fluted case band, the straight lugs, the guilloched dial, the open-tipped hands, and the hidden Breguet signature. In spite of all these embellishments, the Classique 5157 manages to look immensely classy. This elegant look is further compounded by its dressy size, a mere 38 mm in diameter and 5.4 mm in thickness. Priced at around USD22,000, the Breguet Classique 5157 sits between the Saxonia Thin and the 1815 Thin Honeygold on the pricing ladder, making it a tempting Swiss alternative to the two Germans.

The Breguet Classique 5157 is a treasure trove of historical watchmaking techniques, from the clous de Paris hobnailing of the dial to the flame-bluing of the Breguet open-tipped hands.

Final Thoughts

The Lange wristwatch designed to pay tribute to the pocket watches of F. A. Lange has become dressier than ever. While some may miss the girth of the regular variant and its seconds hand, others will love the 1815’s newfound elegance. The fact that it is rendered in honey gold only serves to make the watch that much more special. A. Lange & Söhne isn’t exactly going to rewrite the annals of watchmaking with the 1815 Thin Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange”, but the watch is more than worthy of being a part of the brand’s 175th anniversary collection.


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1 Comment

  1. Beautiful piece, and good call on the Saxonia Thin and Breguet 5157 – I own them both!

    One of the other honey gold pieces Lange recently released just blows every other chronograph (of any type) out there completely away, though: the 1815 Rattrapante. I’ve been told they may have already sold out for the forseeable future, so I’m not the only one who thinks it’s godlike.

    They need to make a new version of the Lange 1 ‘Darth’ (101.035) though. That’d be my next Lange, no doubt about that.