Handwound movement with small seconds and power reserve indicator. Three quarter plate.
A. Lange & Söhne
Hours, Minutes, Small Seconds
Power Reserve Indicator
Price: $ 288
The ref. 101.035 Lange 1 features a platinum case and a black dial with applied numerals / indexes- the so-called 'Darth' configuration.
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A. Lange & Söhne - Reviewing the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase, a new release for 2014
For how many moons did A. Lange & Söhne lie dormant following World War II and the communist regime in East Germany until its rebirth after the fall of the Berlin Wall? From 1945 until October 24th 1994, which means that the historic Saxony-based manufacturer will be commemorating the 20th anniversary of a celebrated new era next year. We can probably expect something quite extraordinary to mark this occasion - even though the bar was set really high in 2013 with the presentation of the brand's most complicated wristwatch to date (the € 2 million Grand Complication) and an impressive array of accolades (a total of 19 awards, including two at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve).
Such a stellar performance suggests A. Lange & Söhne finished this year on a stratospheric level in the figurative sense - further confirmed in reality with the recent introduction of the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase. As Anthony de Haas, A. Lange & Söhne's permanently good-humored Director of Product Development, confided: "You could say that 2013 ended in a very astronomical way for us; who knows what's going to happen in 2014? I know, but am not going to tell you yet. What I can say is that it will be very surprising."
Pushing the boundaries
The astronomical and stratospheric metaphors are perfectly appropriate considering the new timepiece unveiled at the brand's now traditional pre-SIHH event in Dresden/Glashutte. In the two previous years, the focus was on the update of a technically complex chronograph (the Datograph Auf/Ab, 2011) and the boldness of a translucent limited edition (the Grand Lange 1 Lumen, 2012); last week, the star was the Earth's satellite.
"People can say it's just a Grand Lange 1 with a moon phase which is bigger than normal, but for us it was quite a big step", says Anthony de Haas about the first known timepiece of the upcoming 2014 collection to be unveiled at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. "During the development we questioned ourselves on the product committee as to whether it should be smaller - but no: it's a Grand Lange 1 with a Grand Moon Phase". Wilhelm Schmid, the brand's CEO, underlined that there's so much more to it than just a bigger dial aperture: "We've spent a lot of time on it, since it pushes the boundaries of Lange & Söhne's traditional design - because a typical way of displaying a moon disc on our watches would be in the small seconds. But again, I think pushing the boundaries is important for us… and on top of that, I have to say my eyesight is getting worse and I want to appreciate the beauty of a moon disc, and if it is too small I can't see it, so the combination of the two is actually why we launched the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase".
The Moon's prominence in the sky and its regular cycle of phases have, since the beginning of mankind, made the Earth's satellite an important cultural influence on language, calendars, mythology and arts such as watchmaking - as proven in the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon, a highly interesting museum in Dresden dedicated to scientific instruments, terrestrial and celestial globes that reopened this year under A. Lange & Söhne's patronage. One of the many clocks on show is the Grand Complication pocket watch that inspired the superlative Grand Complication masterpiece, both featuring a Moon Phase in their respective perpetual calendars. And the Moon Phase display is indeed a very important feature in the brand's contemporary history.
The 1815 Emil Lange was the inaugural Lange watch of the new era exhibiting the Moon. In 2002, the iconic Lange 1 received the lunar disc for the first time and there was also a limited edition set Lange 1 Luna Mundi with two timepieces respectively displaying the nocturnal sky from the northern and southern hemispheres. In total, A. Lange & Söhne introduced 12 models with a moon phase display. After the inception of the Grand Lange 1 (with a 41mm diameter, up from 38.5 mm), the new size of the brand's ex-libris was bound to be equipped with this function. Nonetheless, even though a moon phase was somehow expected, the solution for the aperture was a surprise… and as unexpected as the place chosen to announce it.
New Manufacture, new disc
The international media representatives in attendance were in fact stunned when we were directed to Glashutte and then inside a construction site - the new A. Lange & Söhne premises due to be inaugurated in 2015 with an effective area of 5,400 sq.m, right on the other side of Altenberger Strasse from where the Manufacture's main building these days is located. Two large rooms were prepared, decorated and heated; the first for the cocktail and ensuing presentation, the second for the gala dinner at which the F.A. Lange Watchmaking Excellence Award was attributed to Austria's youngster Paul Wudy for his second timezone concept.
If the popular astronomical indication on the Grand Lange 1 were located in the same spot as in its predecessor, the new timepiece would have appeared to be merely a larger version. But boundaries were pushed and the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase now features, for the very first time in the Manufacture's collection, a larger cut-out in the off-centre hour/minute subdial. The change was received with approval from almost everyone, although the odd A. Lange & Söhne aficionado will complain about the new balance and dynamics of the layout.
The apparently unanimous opinion is that the outsize display provides space for a bigger, hence more detailed, celestial disc - with two textured golden moons and 382 laser-cut gold stars (the smallest one measuring just 0.07mm) enhanced by a patented coating process that gives it a remarkably lifelike appearance. Technically, the change was also for the better: due to its connection with the hour-wheel of the hand-wound L095.3 calibre, the solid gold disc is constantly in motion and the increments are so small they aren't detected by the naked eye. Each lunar cycle is indicated with an accuracy of 99.9978 per cent thanks to a seven-gear transmission and, assuming the watch runs continuously, the display only needs to be corrected by one day every 122.6 years - but it can be adjusted at any time by using the push piece embedded in the case flank between 7 and 8 o'clock.
Prominent ancient Greece philosopher Aristothe was convinced the moon affected susceptible individuals and induced lunacy: many watch enthusiasts will surely lose their heads over the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase. I hope that the disclosure of the rest of the new collection next January at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie will also induce insanity- as it would be a great sign.