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SIHH 2017 A. Lange & Sohne Overview: Epitome of Watchmaking

by Jonathan Ho on January 18, 2017

For SIHH 2017 A. Lange & Sohne unveiled a new Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite”. The fifth watch to join the “Pour le Mérite” line, a series which is emblematic of A. Lange & Sohne’s pinnacle of watchmaking skills, the series is best know for its fusée-and-chain transmission. This time, the Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” is equipped with five complications including he fusée-and-chain transmission with a tourbillon, a chronograph, a rattrapante function and a perpetual calendar.

Since the “Pour le Mérite” series launched in 1994, A. Lange & Sohne have incrementally added new complications to the legendary line; the first icon of the collection being the Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite”, a tourbillon and a fusée-and-chain transmission. In 2005, the legendary calibre was improved upon with a chronograph with rattrapante function resulting in the Tourbograph “Pour le Mérite”. For SIHH 2017 A. Lange & Sohne added a fifth complication to the manufacture’s most complicated watch from the series and with integration of a perpetual calendar, the Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” is the result.

Via a fusée connected to the spring barrel with a chain, the force of the main- spring is delivered to the movement in constant increments thanks to the ingenious way in which the principle of levers is harnessed. A planetary gearing mechanism inside the fusée assures that the flow of power from the mainspring barrel to the escapement is not inter- rupted while the watch is being wound. The filigreed yet robust mechanism requires the utmost in attention as regards design, production, finissage, and assembly.

According to the A. Lange & Sohne spokesperson, the SIHH 2017 Tourbograph “Pour le Mérite” is driven by a fully integrated movement because a modular calibre would have rendered the highly complicated timepiece too thick. Thus, the enginneers of the Saxon manufacture had a formidable task of ensuring the 5 complex, high energy draining mechanisms within could run without conflicts with each other. In addition, the perpetual calendar components had to be designed and constructed around the tourbillon – the consequence of which was only two thirds of available space within the calibre while the tourbillon occupied the remaining third thus, the foundational calibre was essentially redesigned to make the Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” possible.

SIHH 2017 A. Lange & Sohne Flagship watch: Tourbograph “Pour le Mérite”

The dial of the Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” reflects the traditional approach in timekeeping. Arabic numerals, a railway-track minute scale, blued steel hands for the time and rhodiumed gold hands for the calendar as well as the cloverleaf arrangement of the subsidiary dials pay tribute to the famous A. Lange & Söhne pocket watches.

A column-wheel controls operations of the chronograph and rattrapante mechanisms while the tourbillon cage itself is held aloft on a black polished bridge. While the tourbillon is an important complication, it’s important to note that the tourbillon bridge itself was a technical challenge because it curves downwards into the aperture, rendering it “impossible” to mirror/black polish at the outset. However, artisans at A. Lange & Sohne eventually developed special tooling to polish the curved bridge – one can surmise that at the Saxony Manufacture, the impossible becomes possible with enough attention.

Other technical challenges in the development of the Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite”

  • Perpetual calendar of the new L133.1 manufacture calibre had to be built around the tourbillon thus, great care was taken to design the architecture in the surrounding area to save space for it. The 206 component calendar displays all date, month, year information in three subdials with moonphase in an apperture at 12 o’clock accurate to 122.6 years while the calendar itself needs to be calibrated 100 years later.
  • Chronograph with rattrapante function – operated by two familiar pushers flanking the crown, a third pusher at 10 o’clock hints to just how special this particular chronograph is – twin column wheels control both gold plated chronograph hand and blue rattrapante hand while during the 30 minute timing at 9 o’clock, the additional button provides as many lap times as required by button press.
  • One-minute tourbillon – the application of black polish technique to a curved bridge was especially challenging but the beauty of the tourbillon lies in the rate stability and rate accuracy of offsetting gravity’s deleterious effects while benefitting from the fusée-and-chain transmission which offsets power loss from a winding down mainspring.

The SIHH 2017 A. Lange & Sohne Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” is available in limited edition of only 50 platinum-cased 43.5mm watches. Tourbograph Perpetual price €480,000

Only the white 31 at the upper end of the large power-reserve indicator and the small inscription beneath the Lange outsize date modestly refer to the fact that when fully wound, the movement will run for an entire month.

Wind it once and forget: A. Lange & Sohne Lange 31

In terms of power reserve, A. Lange & Sohne has been the reigning, almost decade long record holder of a Saxony manufactured watch with 31 days power reserve. For SIHH 2017 A. Lange & Sohne has updated the first and only mechanical wristwatch with such unbelievable power reserve and patented constant-force escapement with a new design – white gold case with grey dial.

At 45.9 mm, the Lange 31’s case doesn’t reveal the length of power reserve inside its mechanical calibre beyond the obvious pointer on the dial. But the obvious challenge isn’t fitting twin mainspring barrels with 1.85 metre long springs to deliver the 744 hours of run time, the real challenge is in delivery “constant force” regardless of whether the watch is fully wound for 31 days or down to it’s last 30 minutes. Thus, the constant-force escapement in the Lange 31 sits between the twin barrels and going drain to deliver the same consistent amount of energy to the escapement every 10 seconds. The result is precision chronometry on day 1 and day 31.

The sapphire caseback reveals a triangular cam attached to the fourth-wheel arbor, thus you observe the constant-force escapement as its pivoting lever recharges the remontoir spring with energy every ten seconds.

The new SIHH 2017 A. Lange & Sohne Lange 31 is limited to 100 watches and priced at €142,300.

With a manually wound movement, analogue date, day and month indications as well as a moon-phase display, the 1815 ANNUAL CALENDAR presents itself as the classic interpretation of a complication that is both attractive and useful. Hovering over the argenté-coloured background of the classic dial, blued-steel hands indicate the time, complemented by the contrast-rich black Arabic numerals and the peripheral railway-track minute scale.

Practical companion: A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Annual Calendar

The Annual Calendar complication faced made its appearance in the Saxonia Annual Calendar with outsize date in 2010. For SIHH 2017 A. Lange & Sohne applied the practical complication to the 1815 Annual Calendar. Equipped with an analogue date instead of the signature German big date, the 1815 follows in the design principles of the series with highly classic aesthetic touches and pointer hands. Equipped with a manually wound movement, it serves as a homage to Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s early patent in the United States for crown winding invention to replace key-operated winding works.

The moonphase itself remains accurate for 122.6 years while all other calendar indications are clearly legible in their appropriate subdials. In contrast to a perpetual calendar, manual adjustment is required in February for obvious reasons and so on 1st March, a recessed pusher can be used to advance the date. Meanwhile, the button at 2 o’clock will advance all indications as required. It can also be used for easy adjustment should the watch not be worn past its available 72 hours power reserve.

In 2002, the LANGE 1 MOON PHASE enriched A. Lange & Söhne’s most successful watch family with a model featuring the popular astronomical complication. Following the LANGE 1, it has now been endowed with a new movement as well. It takes a new and particularly realistic approach by combining the moon-phase display with a day/night indicator.

Updated with Day/Night indicator: SIHH 2017 Lange 1 Moon Phase

Based n the Lange 1 movement introduced in 2015, the 20th Lange calibre to drive the new SIHH 2017 A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Moon Phase has the same operating characteristics like the twin mainspring barrel providing 72 hours power reserve, escapement with cam-poised balance and free-sprung Lange hairspring beating a somewhat leisurely 21,600 vph but also now drives a clever new Day/Night indicator behind the moonphase display.

Tracking the moon accurately for 122.6 years, the 70 components for the moonphase complication are integrated into the L121.3 calibre – a separate solid-gold moon operates in the fore where a “celestial disc” of solid gold makes a complete revolution every 24 hours, representing dawn, day, dusk and twilight hours through different blue hues. As night approaches, a dark sky with laser cut stars forms the backdrop of the moonphase – an ingenious improvement which allows for easier date setting without running into the potential issue of engaging date adjustment at inappropriate and damaging times.

Lange 1 Moonphase price €39,500 (pink gold); €39,500 (white gold); €52,000 (platinum)

TOURBOGRAPH PERPETUAL“Pour le Mérite” Technical Specs

MOVEMENT DETAILS

  • Lange manufacture calibre L133.1, manually wound, fusée-and chain transmission
  • parts: 684(chain counted as one part); chain parts:636
  • 52 jewels, including 2 diamond end stones
  • 21,600 bph
  • 36 hour power reserve

FUNCTIONS

  • hours,minutes
  • tourbillon
  • chronograph with rattrapante
  • perpetual calendar
  • moon-phase

CASE

  • Diameter:43 mm; height:16.6 mm
  • Platinum

Lange 31 Technical Specs

MOVEMENT DETAILS

  • Lange manufacture calibre L034.1
  • 406 parts
  • 62 jewels, including 1 sapphire bearing
  • 21,600 bph
  • 31 days (744 hours) power reserve

FUNCTIONS

  • hours, minutes, and subsidiary seconds with stop seconds
  • outsize date
  • power-reserve indicator

CASE

  • Diameter: 45.9 mm; height: 15.9 mm
  • White Gold

1815 Annual Calendar Technical Specs

MOVEMENT DETAILS

  • Lange manufacture calibre L051.3
  • 345 parts
  • 26 jewels, including 1 sapphire bearing
  • 21,600 bph
  • 72 hours power reserve

FUNCTIONS

  • hours, minutes, and subsidiary seconds with stop seconds
  • annual calendar with analogue date, day, month
  • moonphase

CASE

  • Diameter: 40 mm; height: 10.1 mm
  • White Gold or pink gold

Lange 1 Moon Phase Day Night Technical Specs

MOVEMENT DETAILS

  • Lange manufacture calibre L121.3
  • 438 parts
  • 47 jewels
  • 21,600 bph
  • 72 hours power reserve

FUNCTIONS

  • hours, minutes, and subsidiary seconds with stop seconds
  • power reserve indicator
  • moonphase display with integrated day/night indicator
    Lange outsize date

CASE

  • Diameter: 38.5 mm; height: 10.2 mm
  • White Gold or pink gold or platinum

 

 

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