When Ferdinand Adolph Lange laid the foundation stone of his workshop in the town of Glashütte on 7 December 1845, he also laid the foundations of Saxony’s esteemed watchmaking tradition and put Glashütte firmly on the map. Today, 175 years later, A. Lange & Söhne commemorates this historic milestone with three “Homage to F.A. Lange” limited edition pieces, including the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold and the 1815 Thine Honeygold. All three models hail from the 1815 family, a collection of watches that celebrate the birth year of founder Ferdinand Adolph Lange. Towering above the others with its extraordinary complexity is this Tourbograph Perpetual, a masterpiece combining a rattrapante chronograph, a perpetual calendar and tourbillon with a fusée-and-chain transmission and a moon phase indicator to boot. In honour of the occasion, the watch is cased in Lange’s proprietary Honeygold and features a dark rhodium-plated dial and special finishes on the movement.
First presented at the 2017 edition of the SIHH salon in Geneva, the Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour Le Mérite” made a huge impression on watch aficionados. Here was a watch with a tourbillon, a chronograph – and not just any chronograph but a split-seconds chronograph – a perpetual calendar and a precision moon phase indicator. Although Lange had already created a watch with a fusée-and-chain transmission, a tourbillon and a rattrapante chronograph in 2005 (Tourbograph “Pour le Mérite”, the 2017 Tourbograph Perpetual added a perpetual calendar to the mix. This meant the incorporation of more than 200 extra parts and a complete realignment of the power flows in the movement. Awed by the dazzling quintet of complications (not considered a grand complication because it didn’t have a chiming function) the sophisticated technicality of the Tourbograph Perpetual demonstrated that incorporating complexity did not come at the price of precision. MONOCHROME’s coverage of the 2017 platinum edition will give you an in-depth take on this opus magnum.
To commemorate the 175th anniversary of the foundation of F.A. Lange’s manufacture, the Tourbograph Perpetual is housed in a solid 18k Honeygold case. Honeygold is a top-secret alloy developed for Lange in 2010 with a unique colour comparable to that of honey. Harder than other gold alloys and platinum, and therefore much harder to shape and finish, Honeygold is reserved for Lange’s most exclusive timepieces. A large watch, its 43mm diameter and height of 16.6mm respond to the complexity below deck. The two pushers on the right side of the case activate the chronograph and the pusher at 10 o’clock corresponds to the rattrapante function. There are also recessed correction pushers on the caseband to advance the date, day, month and moon phase.
Black rhodium dial
Another factor that separates this special edition is its spectacular black rhodium dial. The base is a Honeygold disc with black rhodium treatment. Although we haven’t seen the watch in the metal, ‘black’ is not the colour I would use to describe the dial. It’s closer, if the pictures are faithful, to a soft grey colour with a granular texture. The railway-track minute scale and all the static elements on the dial are relief engraved in gold.
The pleasing symmetry of the dial is achieved with three sub-dials in the upper half and a larger aperture for the 1-minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock held in place by a curved bridge with a remarkable black-polish finish. The moon phase indicator and pointer date are at 12, the months and leap year at 3 and the 30-minute chronograph totaliser and day of the week at 9 o’clock. A split-seconds or rattrapante chronograph has two hands, one of them is picked out in blued steel – like the hand on the 30-minute counter – and the other chronograph hand is also in steel but gold plated to match the 18k Honeygold hour, minute and calendar display hands.
Despite the overwhelming complexity of the functions, the precision of each individual complication is optimum. Equipped with a 48-step cam, the perpetual calendar is calibrated to indicate all month durations correctly until 1 March 2100. The moon phase display deviates from the true position of the Moon by only one day in 122.6 years. To counter gravity and the waning force of the mainspring, Lange’s movement relies on a tourbillon and a fusée-and-chain transmission to deliver constant force and increase the rate accuracy of the watch. Just to get an idea of the complexity of this transmission device, the chain is made of 636 individual parts.
Lange manual-winding manufacture calibre L133.1 has been given a special finish to mark the occasion. In a departure from the classic Glashütte ribbing on the German silver bridges of other Lange watches, the bridges on the movement of this “Homage to F.A. Lange” are a golden colour and display an attractive granular surface. All the inscriptions are picked out in black rhodium to match the colour of the dial as are the lines of the manually engraved floral motifs decorating the chronograph bridge. The two diamond endstones for the tourbillon cage pay homage to a feature found on F.A. Lange’s historic pocket watches. Composed of 684 parts (not including the 636 parts of the chain), the movement beats at a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour and can store up to 36 hours of power.
Availability & price
The Tourbograph Perpetual Honeygold “Homage to F.A. Lange” is a limited edition of 50 pieces and comes with a dark brown hand-stitched leather strap and a deployant buckle in Honeygold. The retail price is EUR 500,000. Yes, that’s correct, half a million euro.
More information at alange-soehne.com.
Technical specifications – A Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual “Homage to F. A. Lange”
43mm diameter x 16.6mm height – 18k Honeygold – 2 pushers for chronograph on right side of case, pusher for rattrapante at 10 o’clock – recessed correction push-pieces to adjust date, day, month and moon phase – sapphire crystal (Mohs hardness 9) front and caseback
18k Honeygold disc with black-rhodium treatment
Lange manufacture calibre L133.1 – manual-winding – fusée-and-chain transmission – 684 parts – 32mm x 10.9mm – 52 jewels, 2 diamond endstones – in-house balance spring – 21,600vph – 36h power reserve – plates and bridges made of untreated German silver with special granular finish – chronograph bridge engraved by hand – functions: hours, minutes, tourbillon, rattrapante chronograph, perpetual calendar with date, day, month and leap year, moon phase display
dark brown hand-stitched leather – 18k Honeygold deployant buckle
limited to 50 pieces