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SIHH 2014: A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Tourbillon

by Peter Chong on February 10, 2014

Lange Uhren is a very special manufacture, and every year, does not fail to impress with the ultra large watch at the entrance of their SIHH booth, but more importantly with the marvellous watches they unveil.

This year is no different. I have discussed their Terra Luna in a bit of detail in this earlier article, but now turn my attention to what must be the darling of all and sundry at the fair…the new Lange 1815 Tourbillon.

The Lange 1815 Tourbillon with stop tourbillon and zero reset.

The Lange 1815 Tourbillon with stop tourbillon and zero reset.

Almost everyone I turn to to ask what was the most interesting piece in the Lange SIHH 2014 collection picked the 1815 Tourbillon as their choice. No wonder, this watch is a curious blend of beauty and brawns. The aesthetic simplicity and beauty of the 1815 case and dial with the elegant hands, coupled with the tour de force engineering required not only for the construction of a tourbillon, but to stop and reset the seconds hand mounted coaxially to the tourbillon cage. A World Premiere.

The SIHH 2014 novelty is impressive in its aestetic beauty, as well as the technical virtuoso of a stop seconds tourbillon plus a zero reset seconds hand.

The Lange 1815 Tourbillon in platinum is impressive in its aesthetic beauty, as well as the technical virtuoso of a stop seconds tourbillon plus a zero reset seconds hand.

The classical looks of the 1815 dial, with Arabic numerals, railroad minute track, and beutiful javelin styled hands. Looking very similar to the now iconic TOURBILLON Pour le Merite of 1994, the new watch is similar in size…both 39.5mm in diameter.

Lange 1815 Tourbillon showing detail of dial cutout which exposes the magnificent tourbillon and seconds hand.

Lange 1815 Tourbillon showing detail of dial cutout which exposes the magnificent tourbillon and seconds hand. Note the zero reset strike lever, poised and ready at approximately 12 o’clock in the pic. This lever will instantaneously strike the heart shaped cam mounted below the seconds hand, causing it to reset to zero when the crown is pulled.

The big visual difference between the 1815 Tourbillon and the Tourbillon Pour le Merite is that the older, now iconic and classic watch has a seconds hand at 8 o’clock and a power reserve indicator at 4 o’clock.. The newer watch sports a cleaner and, perhaps more modern look.  Also, the opening on the dial to show the magnificent tourbillon is now a clean, simpler, circular opening as opposed to a complicated shaped opening in the original Pour le Merite. Inside, the mechanism is a different story. The original Pour le Merite is equipped with a fusee and chain mechanism. The new 1815 Tourbillon, caliber L102.1 is simpler in construction, but includes the world premiere stop seconds with zero reset mechanism.

The tourbillon started life as a device to improve accuracy by allowing the balance to move through all positions thereby equalizing the effects of gravity. However, the enigma is that until 2008, when Lange introduced the Cabaret Tourbillon, a watch equipped with a tourbillon escapement cannot be hacked to set the time precisely. This is because, typically the tourbillon cage is a fairly large system within the wheel train, and there is a risk that on stopping, the train might not have sufficient power to restart. There is also the worry that the starting up process after hacking, the escapement will be catchcing up to normal beat rate, hence compromising the accuracy of the watch.

But in 2008, Lange showed that this can be done with little sacrifice to accuracy. Since then, all Lange tourbillons introduced after had the stop seconds mechanism installed. So it is only natural that it was up to Lange again to show the next step forward for tourbillons by allowing the seconds hand, mounted coaxially with the tourbillon pinon to instantly reset to zero when the crown is pulled and the tourbillon stopped. This zero reset mechanism was debuted by Lange in 1997 with the Langematic Sax-0-mat.

The video below (for the time being flash only, apologies to Apple mobile users) explains how the stop seconds and zero reset of the frictional mounted seconds hand is achieved. Elegant.

The movement is finished to the usual Lange standards…which means to a very high level.

Movement of the Lange 1815 Tourbillon.

Movement of the Lange 1815 Tourbillon.

The movement is hand wound, with a power reserve of 72 hours, and cased in either a rose gold or platinum (limited edition of 100 pieces) case 39.5mm diameter and 11.1mm height. The movement beats at 21,600 bph.

 

Detail of tourbillon cock from the Lange 1815 1815 Tourbillon.

Detail of tourbillon cock from the Lange 1815 1815 Tourbillon. Finishing is exquisite, from the chamfered opening to fit the rubies with the gold chatons held by blued steel screws, to the high polished anglage of the bridge edges, to the hand engraving on the tourbillon cock and diamond end stone.

A magnificent piece from A. Lange & Söhne. How would you compare the new 1815 Tourbillon to the now highly sought after Tourbillon Pour le Merite?

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