A. Lange & Söhne’s 1815 line is steeped in the Glashütte tradition of fine watchhmaking. A reference to the birth year of the founder, Ferdinand A. Lange, who also established Germany’s watchmaking industry in this Saxon town, the design of the 1815 line is characterized by traditional style elements: three-quarter plates for the movements; blued hands, Arabic numerals and the railway-track minute scale on the dial. Plainly speaking, this means the 1815 family houses some of the most classically-designed watches coming out of Glashütte.
This year Lange unveiled the 1815 Annual Calendar at SIHH 2017 and the watch was on pretty much everyone’s SIHH 2017 Greatest Hits list by the end of January. A handsome timepiece that recalls the calendar pocket watches made in the late 19th century, the Annual Calendar was presented in two case materials – pink and white gold.
Unlike a Perpetual Calendar which accounts for leap years and months with 30 or 31 days, an Annual Calendar only needs a date adjustment at the end of February each year. Annual Calendars remain far more affordable than the former and were only introduced in watchmaking in the second half of the 20th century.
This isn’t the first Annual Calendar from the German brand; that would be the automatic Saxonia Annual Calendar from a few years ago. This new Annual Calendar, like all watches in the 1815 line, uses a hand-wound movement - a nod to the founder’s achievement. It may be recalled that in 1866, Ferdinand A. Lange obtained a patent in the USA for his development of a crown winder that would replace the hitherto key-operated winding works.
The case is a modern 40 mm wide and 10.1 mm thick – not exactly dress watch proportions but it will have no problems slipping under most shirt cuffs. Both versions (white and pink gold) use a beautiful silver dial. The characteristic slim railway-track minute scale and Arabic numerals of the 1815 line are used here. While the Saxonia featured a big date display, the 1815 Annual Calendar uses an analogue date indication.
The calendar indications are arranged artfully on the three sub-dials that follow the 3-6-9 format. While the month is indicated on the sub-dial at 3 o’ clock, the day and date indications are bundled into a sub-dial at 9. A beautiful moonphase display featuring a blue disc with a gold moon and stars anchors the calendar indications perfectly at 6 o’ clock.
Like all moonphase displays at Lange, this one is extremely accurate and will require adjustment only once in 122 years. The sub-dial at 6 also houses the running seconds hand. While blued steel hands indicate time, the hands on the sub-dials match the case material. One of the remarkable things here is the sense of balance Lange has achieved in the creation of the dial. Despite the number of indications, there is no clutter here and legibility is great.
This timepiece uses a new movement, the Calibre L051.3 which consists of 345 parts. Developed from the hand-wound Caliber L051.1, the annual calendar complication sits as a 1.4-mm thin module atop this base movement. It has a power reserve of 72 days when fully wound and displays all the characteristic finissage associated with a classic Lange movement – a three quarter plate in German silver, polished and chamfered edges, gold chatons, blued screws, and a hand-engraved balance cock. The exposed crown and ratchet wheels on the three quarter plate have a solarized finish.
How does one use the Annual Calendar? A pusher at 2 o’clock is used to collectively advance all indications. In addition to this, three recessed push pieces allow separate corrections of the day, month and moon phase. And in a first for a Lange timepiece, the date can also be separately advanced with an additional recessed push piece. The watch is priced at $39,900. In conclusion, the 1815 Annual Calendar is a handsome timepiece that is easy to wear and carries enough horological heft to impress enthusiasts.