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A Lange Sohne

About A. Lange & Sohne www.alange-soehne.com

A. Lange & Söhne was first established in 1845 by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in the little known town of Glasshutte (near Dresden in Saxony). Today it is the registered trademark of Lange Uhren GmbH. The firm established itself as makers of distinctive and fine timepieces — its pocket watches were prized by European gentry. Following the Second World War, in 1948, the Lange factory was seized by what was then East Germany.

Walter Lange, the company’s heir fled. It was only after the German reunification in 1990, that the founder’s great grandson, Walter Lange, began reviving the company. With funding from LVMH, the newly reformed company set out to restore its fine watchmaking tradition. The company was sold to the luxury conglomerate Richemont in July 2000. Although its watch parts may be cut with exceptional precision by the most advanced computer-aided machine tools, they are still finished, decorated and engraved by the skilled hands of some of the world’s finest watchmakers.

Lange and Sons’ watches rank among the finest in the world and sell in the same general price range as watches made by such top-tier Swiss firms as Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. All Lange watches are mechanical rather than quartz-driven, and, with the exception of a few special edition watches, all Lange cases are made of precious metals (gold or platinum) rather than steel. All Lange movements are developed, manufactured, and assembled in-house. Lange is also a pioneer in watchmaking technology. For example, it developed a rare double-split chronograph that enables a wearer to time two events for up to 30 minutes.

The company also developed an innovative fusee winding system used in certain models including the Tourbograph. More recently, on March 15, 2007, the company unveiled the culmination of a multi-year effort to produce the first wearable mechanical watch with a 31-day power reserve (The Lange 31): that is, a watch that need be wound only once per month (with a special key). To guarantee the power reserve for a month, the brand’s watchmakers used two stacked mainspring barrels that store the required energy. The big-sized barrels made it necessary to apply two mainsprings that are 5-10 times longer than those found in other wristwatch movements. At this point, Lange specialists faced a serious problem — a common winding crown train was not suitable for winding such strong mainsprings.

To solve that problem, the watchmakers used the key technology of A. Lange & Sohne pocket watches. Some Lange admirers lauded these technological achievements, while others expressed skepticism that there would be a significant market for this very large (46 mm wide by 16 mm deep) and expensive platinum-cased watch. Lange watches tend to have a highly distinctive appearance. For example, the iconic 38.5 mm Lange 1 model features an asymmetric layout with no overlap among its key components: a dial containing the hour and minute hands, a smaller dial containing the second hand, a double window containing oversized digits for the date, and an ab-auf meter registering the degree of wind (power reserve) remaining in the watch.

Lange’s watches are often described as more austere or Teutonic in appearance than comparable watches produced by Patek Philippe and similar Swiss firms. Lange watches typically feature a display back a transparent surface on the back of the watch that permits exceptional views of the timekeeping mechanism at work. Today, many aficionados consider Lange und Soehne, without reservation, at the pinnacle of watch making.

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