A. Lange & Söhne is renowned for finishing its timepieces to a standard with which few brands can compete. And since 2011, the venerable German watchmaker has somehow further raised its game with the introduction of its Handwerkskunst range.
Translated into English as ‘artisanship’, the word Handwerkskunst perfectly encapsulates Lange at the very summit of its capabilities. Featuring complex and unusual hand-finishing, the models that come under the Handwerkskunst umbrella are strictly limited edition and only entrusted to the nimble fingers of A. Lange & Söhne’s most trusted and experienced craftspeople.
“The timepieces used as a basis for the Handwerkskunst editions are technically sophisticated models that are assembled by the master watchmakers of Lange’s complications department,” says CEO Wilhelm Schmid. “And the decorative works are carried out by the most experienced and talented finishers and engravers.”
Unsurprisingly, given the staggering amount of work required to produce one watch (the dials alone take over two weeks to hand-engrave), no more than 30 pieces of each model are made. To date, the Handwerkskunst collection comprises six different models.
Richard Lange Tourbillon Pour le Mérite
The first Handwerkskunst was launched in September 2011 and limited to 15 pieces, it was the fourth Pour le Mérite timepiece, but the first to be given the Handwerkskunst treatment. It comes in a honey-colored gold case, accommodating two complications: a fusée-and-chain transmission and, of course, a tourbillon. The three-quarter plate on the reverse is made of untreated silver and can be viewed through the sapphire caseback.
Its dial, meanwhile, is decorated with another of the features that give Handwerkskunst models their distinctive look - a tremblage effect. This painstaking engraving technique is carried out with a specially made burin to make thousands of tiny cuts into the surface, one at a time and in eight different directions, creating a fine granular texture. Set into this are the curved logo and lettering in deep relief. Seen under the microscope, every dial is totally unique.
Roman numerals enhance the watch’s classic aesthetic, while the case size, at 41.9 mm, remains discreetly elegant. Of course, Lange is unparalleled when it comes to the finishing of its movements, too, and nowhere is this better displayed than in the second Handwerkskunst model, which was launched in 2012.
Limited to 30 pieces, this chiming watch is powered by Lange’s Caliber LO43.4 whose quarter plate is also made of untreated German silver, decorated with a granular surface and hand-engraved lettering.
Balance and escape wheel cocks are also decorated with free-hand engraving, while other parts are embellished with black polish, a finissage technique that is as laborious as it is elaborate. As for the dial, the Zeitwerk’s stunning simplicity is enhanced with black rhodiumed white gold, endowed with tremblage engraving.
Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst
In 2013 the German brand unveiled its Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst edition, one year after the standard model was launched. With a dial crafted from solid white gold and decorated with a combination of tremblage and relief engraving methods, it was yet another exquisite timepiece that took horological craftsmanship to unprecedented levels.
It presented, for the first time in a Lange watch, hand-painted blue numerals of the outsize date display. Each of the three train bridges is embellished with solarization. The relief-engraved tourbillon and intermediate wheel cocks frame the tourbillon ensemble with Lange’s patented stop-seconds feature, which allows for precise and simple time-setting.
Four screwed gold chatons and a diamond endstone bearing for the tourbillon augmented the watch’s undeniable extravagance. Only 15 pieces were made.
Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst
To commemorate the 20th birthday of its brand icon, the Lange 1, the company released in October 2014 the Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst in a special 20-watch edition. Its main dial, black-enamelled with striking mirror-polished hour markers, perfectly complements the rhodiumed gold hands.
Another prominent feature of the watch is the tourbillon cock, which is finished with a specular polishing technique. On the reverse you’ll again find a solarized three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver with cut-outs that accommodate the beautifully decorated twin mainspring barrel. Intricate engraving on several other components announce the inimitable Lange artisanship that the company has been carefully nurturing since its long-awaited revival in the 1990s.
1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst
With A. Lange & Söhne celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, in 2015, it was fitting that it launched the 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst. This was the first watch made by the company that combines two of the brand’s patented mechanisms: a zero-reset function and the aforementioned stop-seconds device for the tourbillon.
With this watch, the black-rhodiumed rose-gold dial is again decorated with tremblage engraving, while the gold of the dial’s relief elements stands out on the slate-grey face. The large circular aperture at 6 o’clock reveals the one-minute tourbillon, whose bridge and upper cage parts boast black-polished finissage. The hour and minute hands are in rose gold, while the small seconds hand stands out beautifully in blued steel.
Lange’s manual-wound Caliber L102.1 is endowed with an array of decorative, hand-applied finishes and elements of watchmaking for which the brand is famous. The three-quarter plate is elegantly curved and features cut-outs that enable the tourbillon to be viewed from either side of the movement. The spring barrel and parts of the wheel train can also be viewed.
The Saxon brand is expected to unveil a sixth Handwerkskunst model this year. Stay tuned for more details.