Manual wind movement with column-wheel, vertical clutch chronograph and jumping (instead of dragging) minute counter.
A. Lange & Söhne
Hours, Minutes, Small Seconds
Chronograph, Column wheel, Flyback
Price: $ 259
The ref. 402.026 1815 Chronograph was introduced at SIHH 2010. It features a white gold case of 39.5 * 10.8mm and a solid silver dial with Arabic numerals. It is powered by the hand-wound caliber L951.5 flyback chronograph movement.
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A. Lange & Söhne - With a grain of salt
Tribune des Arts - A. Lange & Söhne Special Issue - June 2010
Complications above all At A. Lange & Söhne, precision is the guiding light that governs all horological activities. This includes uncompromising accuracy in planning, design, execution, and the fulfilment of the job entrusted to every watch: to indicate ephemeral time as precisely as humanly possible. This can be done consummately with a mechanism endowed with three hands, one each for hours, minutes, and seconds. And Ferdinand A. Lange was thoroughly comfortable with such types of watches. His movements with the 1A quality ALS three-quarter plate are an elating sight for connoisseurs and collectors. This tradition of classic precision watchmaking lives on in the manually wound L941.1 and L051.1 calibres with subsidiary seconds and in the L041.2 with sweep seconds. Beyond that, A. Lange & Söhne rather overtly reveals its passion for complications and extra functions. The grand horological realm of the elite manufactory in Glashutte is no longer thinkable without the outsize date, calendars, chronographs, tourbillons, extended power-reserve ratings, and constant-force escapements. A venerable classic: the Lange outsize date
The date display is by far the most significant of all complementary indications in a watch. Legibility is the key issue. The simple rule of thumb: the larger, the better. Because of the limited size of a wristwatch, classic date displays with hands or a single aperture impose restrictions on product design. The legendary philosopher's stone turned out to be the numeric date indication with two apertures as impressively demonstrated by A. Lange & Söhne with the debut of its Lange 1 in 1994. Granted, the eminent manufactory in Glashütte did not invent the big date for wristwatches in the early 1990s. Two adjacent dial apertures already existed in the 1930s. But A. Lange & Söhne is undisputedly the pioneer and protagonist of the modern outsize date, and after the launch of the iconic Lange 1, the race really began. The number of epigones has grown year after year. The decidedly ingenious and of course patented mechanism beneath the dial enlarges the date display by up to five times in comparison with conventional solutions. The principal components are a units disc with the numerals from 1 to 0 and, superposed, a tens cross with the digits 1 to 3 and a blank space. The main challenge faced by the design team was to assure the correct date advance on the 31st day of a month. During the night of that day, the units disc must not budge, only the tens cross needs to rotate by 90 degrees to position its blank field in the aperture. Only seven months of the year have 31 days. So at the end of February, April, June, September, and November - as well as after long periods of disuse, a prominent pusher in the caseband of all watches endowed with the patented outsize date is the perfect assistant. It allows the date to be corrected with a flip of the wrist, so to speak. That's how simple things can be. They just need to be imagined first. For the sake of consistent torque: the fusée-and-chain transmission This topic requires a bit of horological theory. Fully tensioned, ordinary mainsprings naturally generate more torque than when they are nearly unwound. This in turn influences the oscillations of the balance wheel that subdivides the uniform flow of time into discrete, exactly defined intervals. To solve this problem, Lange's engineers did in the early 1990s what they would later do quite frequently: with a view to the future, they looked back on the eventful history of their brand.
There, they discovered an interesting magic remedy: the fusée-and-chain transmission as part of the power train of a movement. It relies on the convenient principle of levers, which stipulates that the longer a lever is, the less force is needed to overcome mechanical resistance. From the opposite perspective: more force must be exerted if the lever is short. In all calibres with the honourable attribute "Pour le Mérite" - the L902.0, the L903.0, and the L044.1 - it is a grooved cone, called snail or fusée in the jargon, that assumes the function of the lever. It is connected to the energy source with a delicate chain composed of over 600 links.
Thanks to this intricate mechanism, the greatest force exerted by the mainspring acts on the smallest diameter of the fusée, and a steadily growing fusée diameter offsets the gradually dwindling torque as the mainspring relaxes. Hence, the energy flow required to sustain the oscillation of the balance wheel is extremely constant. In an A. Lange & Söhne watch, an additional mechanism assures that the mainspring can neither be fully wound nor fully unwound. And then, there is a small auxiliary winding mechanism which assures that the movement continues to run unperturbed while the mainspring is being charged with energy via the crown. At this juncture, the Achilles heel should not be disregarded. The trio consisting of the mainspring barrel, the 16-centimetre long chain, and the fusée occupies a considerable portion of the space inside the movement. This makes enthusiasts of mechanical watches happy, because every day, they can revel in the silkiness of the winding procedure that is not quite unlike a caress. For uniform power: the Lange constant-force escapement Incorrigible nostalgics consider the act of winding their mechanical wristwatches to be one of the most enjoyable anchor points of their daily lives. This ritual usually takes place every morning and provides the mainspring with enough energy to get through the next 24 hours. Owners of the Lange 31 have to wean themselves from this habit. Its manufacture calibre L034.1 features two huge, stacked mainspring barrels. With a length of 1.85 metres each, the two energy-storage springs are up to ten times longer than conventional ones. It must be noted that the amplitude of the balance wheel and thus the rate accuracy of the watch gradually decline as the springs deliver their torque. Because the proven fusée-and-chain transmission occupies too much space, the engineers placed a so-called constant-force escapement between the twin mainspring barrel and the escapement. Every ten seconds, this intelligent and technically very challenging device delivers an accurately dosed amount of force that is largely independent of the state of wind of the mainspring. The energy pulse is stored by a tiny spiral spring that is recharged by the two power packs every ten seconds, and the result is the extremely uniform oscillation of the classic screw balance, which in turn translates into optimised precision.
The situation is quite a bit different in the extra- ordinary "Zeitwerk" with its digital indications. Its precisely jumping numerals would clearly sap the one-billionth of a horsepower generated by the manually wound calibre L043.1. So once again, A. Lange & Söhne enlisted the help of its constant-force escapement. The highly complex device reliably controls the force flows that occur when the amply dimensioned numerals discs are accelerated and braked. And yet again, it is a small spiral spring that in the course of one minute collects the energy required to invoke the instantaneous switching processes. A fly governor makes sure that each advance is smooth and gentle nonetheless. The level of suspense increases at the top of each hour. This is when the movement performs three time jumps simultaneously - immensely great steps for A. Lange & Söhne.
Oh dwell, you are so fair - Lange's competence in chronographs If the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph didn't already exist since 1999, it would have to be invented immediately. Quite obviously, the chronograph is the currently most popular complication. It allows the measurement of time intervals by starting, stopping, and resetting specific hands without interfering in the progression of the movement's timekeeping function. The history of the classic mechanical chronograph dates back to the mid-19th century, when Ferdinand A. Lange established the precision watchmaking industry in Glashütte. However, after the fresh start of Lange Uhren GmbH, the time-writing revolution did not move forward until 1995. In that year, the development department began to work on the manually wound calibre L951.1, an exceptional movement in every respect. With it, Günter Blümlein intended to expand the vibrant history of the chronograph by a new chapter. The tour de force succeeded, as strikingly evidenced by the Datograph. It is the world's first chronograph with flyback, precisely jumping minute counter, outsize date, and balance stop for setting the time with one-second accuracy. The column-wheel control concept was a given. The noteworthy details of the 405-part movement include screwed gold chatons, separate escape-wheel and fourth-wheel bridges, a chronograph operating level mounted between two bearings, a precisely adjustable coupling lever positioned in the centre of the fourth wheel, a minute-counter operating lever mounted between jewels, a stepped pinion with a synthetic ruby sliding head for accurate minute-counter advances, and a leisurely balance frequency of 2.5 hertz for classic fifths-of-a-second stop times. Going a step further than ordinary chronographs, the rattrapante mechanism enables the comparative measurement of the duration of two events that begin at the same time. In this challenging domain of short-time stopping, the Lange Double Split launched in 2004 represents a totally new dimension as well. Since it was invented, nothing really fundamental has changed the technology of the rattrapante hand. It is started together with the chronograph and from then on can be frozen on any number of occasions to supply lap-time or differential-time readings. The drawback: none of the ordinary rattrapante chronographs can manage events that last more than 60 seconds. This deficit was abolished by the futuristic flyback calibre L001.1 with 30-minute counters for the chronograph and rattrapante hands. One of its 465 components is a novel variable-torque balance that allows the Lange-made balance spring to freely breathe at a rate of 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour. The undisputed crown jewel of Lange's artistry in chronographs bears the name Tourbograph "Pour le Mérite". Its highly complex manually wound calibre, the L903.0, features a fusée-and-chain transmission that delivers virtually constant torque. And, as the designation implies, it embodies a filigreed tourbillon as well as a rattrapante chronograph. Together, the more than 600 parts for the chain and 465 for the movement per se, constitute an ensemble of over one thousand components finished to perfection à la Lange. Progress by standstill: unique tourbillons
It is fair to say that on the wrist, the tourbillon for pocket watches - it was patented in 1801 - can leverage its gravity-compensating effect only to a limited degree. But this fact doesn't in the least lessen the allure of a mechanism that is technically and artisanally very sophisticated. The delicate cage in which the entire escapement permanently rotates to offset the negative consequences of the earth's pull is still as fascinating as it ever was. Contrary to other brands that only rediscovered the tourbillon for their wristwatches, the competence of A. Lange & Söhne in this field dates back more than one hundred years. The manufactory's grand tradition lives on in the classic, ancestrally constructed tourbillon calibres L902.0, L903.0, and L961.1. During their intensive involvement with the intrinsic complexities of the mechanism, Lange's engineers discovered a deficit in the roughly 210-year history of the tourbillon: never before in such a watch had a balance-wheel stop been devised to allow timesetting with one-second accuracy. In the manually wound calibre L042.1 form movement of the Cabaret Tourbillon, they eliminated this shortcoming in 2008 for the first time - most ingeniously at that.
The first step toward mastering the seemingly insoluble problem was a reversal of the sense of rotation. The dainty whirlwind was made to spin anti-clockwise. The second step is manifest in a hitherto unique mechanism that causes a hinged stop lever carrying two tiny spring arms to gently press against the rim of the balance wheel. Thanks to its clever asymmetric shape, it cannot under any circumstances inadvertently jam the cage. Of course, the magnificent invention was a must in the calibre L961.2 for the Lange 1 Tourbillon that commemorated the horological tradition of Ferdinand A. Lange. Because the patented ballet can be observed through the transparent sapphire-crystal units disc of the outsize date, it is easy to succumb to the temptation of stopping the 3-Hz balance a bit more often than would really be necessary to occasionally adjust the time. This - exactly this - is how Lange ticks
Since the start of the new era in 1994, A. Lange & Söhne has been regularly amazing the international community of staunch watch aficionados with unprecedented product innovations. This was also the case with the 1997 launch of the "Perpetuum Mobile" L921.4 featuring an outsize date, bidirectional automatic winding with a solid-gold three- quarter rotor, and a power reserve of 46 hours. That accomplishment alone commands respect. But for a manufactory that keeps raising the bar, it wasn't quite enough. The crux of the L921.4, as suggested by the numeral "0" in the somewhat peculiar designation "Sax-0-Mat" is the handsetting mechanism. When the crown is pulled, the subdial seconds hand instantly jumps to zero - the 12 o'clock position. The elaborate construction of the device is not unlike a chronograph module as regards complexity. It makes sure the wristwatch that accommodates it is never moonstruck.
Moonstruck in the positive sense of the term is an attribute that applies to a prominent version of the Lange 1815, which was not only presented in a new garb to pay tribute to Ferdinand A. Lange, but also incorporates a record-breaking moon-phase mechanism calculated by Lange engineer Annegret Fleischer. Her ingenious transmission has an extremely low error of only 6.61 seconds per lunation. Its deviation from the lunar month adds up to merely one full day in 1058 years. The newcomer by far outperforms conventional moon-phase displays that need to be corrected by one day every four years. And even the calibre L901.5 in the Lange 1 Moonphase that takes 122.6 years to accumulate a deviation of one day bows in reverence to such an awesome degree of precision. This, and exactly this, is how Lange ticks.