Today, A. Lange & Söhne releases a trilogy of limited edition watches to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the foundation of the Saxon brand by F. A. Lange in 1815. The Rattrapante Honeygold is perhaps the most special watch in the trilogy because it is ‘new’. Admittedly, we’ve seen the rattrapante combined with a perpetual calendar in the past, but this is the first time Lange lets the rattrapante occupy centre stage, highlighting a complication that incarnates the very essence of a high-end chronograph. Like the other two pieces released in this commemorative “Homage to F. A. Lange” trilogy – 1815 Thin and 1815 Tourbograph Perpetual – the Rattrapante is housed in a Honeygold case, has special finishes on the movement and is a member of the 1815 watch family. Although this anniversary model is clearly aimed at collectors, it might, it just might be a harbinger of a regular production model in the future (fingers crossed).
Since the brand’s remarkable revival following German reunification, chronographs, in all their manifestations, have always held a special place at Lange. Starting with the 1999 Datograph Up/Down and its flyback movement followed by the 2004 ‘Mighty’ Double Split, a watch with two rattrapante hands and flyback functionality, and outdoing itself with the spectacular ‘mightier than mighty’ Triple Split of 2018, an insanely complex chronograph with three rattrapante functions capable of splitting seconds, minutes and hours. In between, there have been ‘simpler’ chronographs like this 1815 Flyback model and more daring combinations like the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon and the extraordinary 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar launched in 2013.
The model released today is a novelty of sorts since it marks the first time the rattrapante has been divorced from its perpetual calendar configuration – a watch whose functionality could be compared to the Patek Philippe Ref. 5370. The rattrapante complication takes its name from the French word rattraper “to catch up” (aka Doppelchronograph in German and split-seconds chronograph in English) and has two superimposed seconds hands that can time two events of different lengths simultaneously. It allows the wearer to record different time intervals that start at the same time but that don’t end at the same time: a useful complication for timing two runners in a race, for example, or to calculate intermediate times, such as laps.
Both hands start together when the pusher at 2 o’clock is activated. The rattrapante hand can be stopped independently of the chronograph hand and synchronised with it. By activating the pusher at 10 o’clock, the rattrapante hand stops and displays the lap while the chronograph hand keeps running. A second actuation of the pusher causes the rattrapante hand to catch up and then synchronise with the chronograph hand. This lap-time measurement procedure can be repeated as many times as needed.
special Case and dial
The 41.2mm case has a height of 12.6mm and is housed in Lange’s proprietary Honeygold, a top-secret alloy developed for the brand that combines a distinct warm sheen with exceptional hardness and which is reserved exclusively for special editions. There are three pushers, two on the right side of the case for the chronograph and one at 10 o’clock to operate the rattrapante mechanism.
The black dial is made from a solid silver disc and displays the 30-minute totaliser for the chronograph and the small seconds counter on a horizontal axis. On the periphery of the dial is a golden tachometer scale followed by a railway-track minute scale in the same colour with subtle red markings at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. Golden Arabic numerals mark the hours and the hour, minute and subsidiary seconds hands are all made from pink gold. The hand on the 30-minute counter is white gold, and to differentiate the two chronograph hands, one is picked in pink gold-plated steel, the rattrapante hand in rhodium-plated steel. Another detail on the dial is the Glashütte in Sachsen inscription, the only model in the trilogy that makes reference to the 175-year anniversary of Saxon watchmaking.
Hand-wound calibre L101.2
Extremely complex to design, manufacture and calibrate, a rattrapante is considered one of the most elaborated devices in precision watchmaking. The 365-part movement is the new L101.2 calibre (calibre L101.1 is used to power the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar) and relies on two column wheels, clearly visible through the sapphire crystal caseback. When fully wound, the mainspring barrel delivers a 58-hour power reserve. The in-house balance spring guarantees excellent rate accuracy and has a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour.
The finishes on the movement respond to the status of this watch as an anniversary edition and are inspired by finishes developed by Ferdinand Adolph Lange to make his calibres inimitable. The raised German silver frame parts are golden and display a granular surface reminiscent of F. A. Lange’s category 1A historic pocket watches. All the visible moving parts of the rattrapante chronograph – levers, springs and jumpers – are decorated with straight graining while the chamfers are polished. The free-hand engravings on the balance cock and the chronograph bridge, as well the inscriptions on the bridges, are picked out with black rhodium.
Availability and price
The 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange” comes on a dark brown hand-stitched leather strap with a prong buckle in 18k Honeygold. It is a Special Boutique edition and limited to 100 watches.
The retail price is EUR 130,000 – and without calling it a bargain, that’s a difference of approx. EUR 100,000 with the Patek 5370 (and its platinum case and enamel can’t justify this).
For more information, please consult alange-soehne.com.