As part of a trio of watches released to mark the 175th anniversary of the establishment of its founder’s first pocketwatch workshop in Glashütte, A. Lange & Söhne gives us the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold “Homage to F. A. Lange”, a new split-seconds chronograph steeped in that renowned German watchmaking tradition.
For those unfamiliar with the Glashütte story, here’s a quick recap: On December 7, 1845, a 30-year-old journeyman watchmaker from Dresden named Ferdinand Adolph Lange established his atelier in the Saxon town of Glashütte in eastern Germany. Three years later, he would become the mayor of the town. Glashütte flourished as Germany’s watchmaking hub producing high quality pocketwatches and marine chronometers right up to the end of World War II.
After the war, the East German government nationalised the town’s many watchmaking companies into one state-run enterprise called the VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe (GUB). Post the reunification of Germany in 1990, the GUB was dismantled and marked for privatisation and would lead to the re-establishment of A. Lange & Söhne and spawn the birth of brands like Glashütte Original, Moritz Grossman, and Nomos. In less than two decades, the town would re-establish itself as the heart of German watchmaking again. Such is the town’s reputation that master watchmaker and industry legend Philippe Dufour reckons Glashütte, not Switzerland, is the new reference for fine watchmaking.
All three of the 175th anniversary watches have been introduced in Lange’s 1815 family – the collection is named for the founder’s birth year and 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. The 1815 family houses some of the most classically-designed watches coming out of Glashütte. All three releases use Lange’s proprietary 18 carat Honeygold case – a gold alloy with a warm sheen that’s used only for special editions and features the inscription “Homage to F. A. Lange” on the caseback. The other two watches in the collection are the sublime 1815 Thin Honeygold and the mighty Tourbograph Perpetual Honeygold “Tribute to F.A. Lange”.
The case of the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold is 41.2 mm wide and 12.6 mm thick. The warm tone of the case contrasts well with the black dial in solid silver. For the first time, Lange uses honey gold accents on the dial as well – the Arabic numerals, the 30-minute chronograph counter at 12 o’ clock, the running seconds counter at 6, the tachymeter scale on the fringe all have the same tone and make for a striking contrast against the black dial.
The spilt-seconds chronograph along with the perpetual calendar, the minute repeater, and the tourbillon is among the quartet of high complications that serves as the standard by which all haute horlogerie brands are measured. This is Lange’s sixth split-seconds chronograph, though the brand tends to bundle it with another high complication like it did with the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar chronograph a few years ago. This is the first time it features as a standalone split-seconds chronograph and comparisons will be drawn to another heavyweight, the Patek Philippe Ref. 5730P launched earlier this summer.
The watch is powered by a new manufacture movement, the manual-winding Caliber L101.2. As one would expect from a Lange timepiece, the architecture and finishing of this movement is a sight to behold. The rattrapante mechanism and the two column wheels are clearly visible via the sapphire-crystal caseback. The movement’s German silver bridges have a granular finish (as opposed to Glashütte ribbing) that is a hat-tip to the kind of finishing seen on the original pocketwatches made by the founder. Among other features, they had gold poising screws, screwed gold chatons to secure the bearing jewels and a hand-engraved balance cock.
The moving parts of Caliber L101.2 – the levers, springs, and jumpers - feature a straight graining finish while the chamfers are polished. One can also see some acute inner angles that have highly polished edges. In a concession to modernity, all of the fine lines of the free-hand engravings on the balance cock and the chronograph bridge as well as the inscriptions on the bridges are black-rhodiumed. The movement, which comprises 365 components, has a power reserve of 58 hours and a balance wheel that oscillates at 3 Hz (21,600 vph).
Paired with a dark brown alligator leather strap and is limited to just 100 pieces as a boutique exclusive. The watch is priced at €130,000.