|Reference||117.025 Grand Lange 1 (Family – Lange 1)|
|Case||40.9mm x 8.8mm, platinum|
|Dial||Solid silver with rhodié|
|Movement||Calibre L121.1, consisting of 368 parts. Manual wind|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 30m / 98 ft|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 72 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve and outsize date|
|Bracelet||Black leather strap with pin buckle|
So many high-end watch companies have roots traceable back to the 1800’s but, despite doing so today, have not traded for a proportion of that time. This is true of A Lange & Söhne, but not for the reason you might expect; this was no quartz movement victim. It was in 1948 that the brand disappeared as a result of the bombing of the manufacturing plant in Glashütte and expropriation in the Soviet occupied zone came into force.
In 1989, following the fall of the Berlin wall, Walter Lange, great grandson of the founder, Ferdinand Adolf Lange, brought A Lange & Söhne back to life, with the assistance of Günter Blümlein. In 1992 they filed their first patent, the outsize date, which was used in three of four of the maison’s first timepieces when they were released in 1994. In releasing the Lange 1 they created a model instantly recognisable and with it, an identity.
25 years later, whilst they might make more complicated watches, the Lange 1 and, specifically, the Grand Lange 1 which is the version we have here, has become an icon.
The first thing you notice about it is the delightful weight. This piece has relatively svelte dimensions and so the additional heft of the platinum case gives it an almost perfect wrist presence – sufficient to remind the wearer of the specialness of the watch but not enough to be overbearing.
The way it nestles into your wrist ensures it is supremely comfortable. Indeed I don’t recall another watch doing so with as much ease as this; now I’m sure this will be subjective – maybe I have distinctively shaped forearms – but it really makes it a pleasure to wear. Additionally, the fact it combines a slightly domed case with a height of less than 10mm means it passes the ‘cuff test’ with ease. Unlike, for example, the Datograph Perpetual, which has also been reviewed on The Peaked Lapel, the Lange 1 is quite possibly the perfect dress watch. Subtle and supremely elegant.
The dial is sophisticated yet simple. With all the watch’s functions arranged off-centre they create an isosceles triangle, meaning each attracts as much attention as the other, including that wonderful ‘outsize’ date. About three times larger than the average date display in rival manufacturers with pieces of similar dimensions, the precision and clarity of the precious metal frame is delightful. All this means everything is exceptionally easy to read at a glance, without the need for any magnification, so often used by other haute horology manufacturers.
In this version, which was introduced in 2015, the material of the dial is solid silver with gold appliques and hour markers, whilst the hands are made of rhodiumed gold. You would think that the toning of the hands with the dial would render it difficult to read, but it is actually exceptionally legible.
As with any A Lange & Söhne, the true key to their beauty lies within. In this model, three quarters of the caseback is taken up by a beautifully engraved and polished German silver main plate, whilst the remaining quarter provides just a glimpse into the movement, revealing the escapement. Whilst it would, of course, be even more satisfying to be able to see it in its entirety, this is a feature that can be traced back to Ferdinand A Lange, the founder; it enhances precision by stabilising the entire wheel train. What it also means however is it makes assembly more difficult because it will require reassembly to ensure the correct fitment. Accordingly, A Lange & Söhne is one of the few manufacturers who uses ‘double assembly’; first the components are assembled in their ‘raw state’, before then taken apart, cleaned in an ultrasonic bath and then reassembled with the baseplate. This harking back to the founder’s vision, in my view, only adds to the piece’s desirability as opposed to detracting from it.
The A Lange & Söhne Grand Lange 1 is, by any stretch, a wonderfully elegant timepiece. It combines now iconic dial aesthetics with real movement integrity. One for the connoisseur.
The A Lange & Söhne Grand Lange 1 is priced at €43,200. It is not a limited edition albeit it is made in relatively low numbers. As such, you might be able to find one on the grey market for that price, minus local taxes.