Today we’re restarting “The Collector’s Series” and we’re doing it with non-other that Justin Hast about his platinum Grand Lange 1. You might remember Justin from when he did The Collector’s Series for MONOCHROME. So now, he’s on the other side of the table, being the interviewee! After helping us out with this series focused on collectors and their watches, Justin continued to work in the world of watches; photography for several auction houses, a bit of writing for Hodinkee, and more. Justin also recently published his first book, but today he’s explaining why he spend a hefty amount on a pretty simple classic watch, the A. Lange & Söhne Grande Lange 1.
Frank, MONOCHROME Watches – You discovered A. Lange & Söhne in the early 2000s. How was that?
Justin Hast: That was part of the fun – the brand wasn’t and still isn’t obvious or widely known outside the hardcore fans. I went to boutiques and hung around, asked loads of questions and took as many catalogues as I could. I also read and watched as much online as possible. I fell in love with the design back at one of the very first Salon QP events at the Saatchi Gallery here in London. I was with a friend, who loves design but isn’t obsessive about watches. I can just remember him pointing through the glass and saying, “Now that’s beautiful.” I was hooked! I knew it had to be a Lange One – it really was the definitive design, to me, that brought the company back in 1994. The first Lange I ever saw in the wild was in the que at Johannesburg airport. The dude was dressed to go on safari, maybe only in his mid-30’s and from Italy, and I just thought he was an absolute boss.
What is it you admire in this brand in general?
It’s all about the detail. I love the font Lange uses in the big date (especially the 2), the obsessive finishing, the understated design ethos and sheer elegance of the brand. The logo is even gorgeous and how it sits on the dial. Plus, I’m a sucker for icons. I know the word is over-used in watches, but I would, hand on heart, consider the L1 to be an icon. I love the simplicity of the 1815. The Datograph and its movement are superb, and the Zeitwerk is off the charts cool!
And when and where did you finally buy it?
I bought it two years ago from a dealer in London. It’s a Grand Lange 1 with this extraordinary grey dial Lange reserves for platinum pieces. I was hoping I was going to hate it – but when I strapped it on I knew I was in trouble. I really wanted to fall for a 38.5mm classic white gold, but when I tried this beast on I was speechless, the heft of the case, the size – it was all there – I just didn’t know how the HELL I was going to pay for it! It was a dream I never in my wildest dreams thought would ever come to fruition.
Please tell us more about the main reasons you bought it.
The dial layout, the asymmetry, and the balance blew me away the moment I saw it. It was love at first sight. I really experienced similar emotions to when, as a kid of 11/12, I would go to the disco, lock eyes with the 10/10 at the soda bar and it was done! The only difference is that back then I might have got a slow dance at the end of the night and with the Lange I knew we were going home, baby!
Does your watch get a lot of wrist time?
Yes! As every watch should. At least once a week – and every time it’s like Christmas morning! I like the fact that the brand might be considered by many to be for the mature German businessman who takes himself a little too seriously – and I wear the hell out of the thing as a 100kg meathead in my early 30’s!
Does the Lange 1 attract attention of others when you wear it?
Almost never – and I love it! But when it does, it’s from somebody who knows, and they go nuts for it.
You’re a collector and must be aware of the current market value. Would you consider ever selling it?
I believe the current value is circa £30k – but it’s a watch I wouldn’t sell. I’d sell many of them – just not this one!
Are there any more watches on your wish list?
Oh no – don’t ask me that!! Haha – it’s always on my mind! I would love a RESSENCE Type1s. I also hear murmurings that Vacheron might be hitting us with a titanium Overseas GMT… with Cory blue dial… Let’s wait and see!
From one collector to another, do you have any tips?
If you’re looking for a Lange 1 go spend some time in your nearest Lange boutique – it will inspire and educate to no end – then try everything on! And don’t forget to enjoy every step. The hunt is half the fun! In fact, this goes for all brands: Go with your heart, man!! This all about passion!
Justin, one last question! Did you ever expect to see that on MONOCHROME when you started in 2015?
Even if you had asked me after 12 pints of bitter at the pub, never in a million years did I think I’d be rocking this beauty. Honestly. It’s funny how the world works sometimes. It is incredible how a watch has that capacity to remind you on a daily basis how fortunate you are.