The test of time

A. Lange & Söhne marks 25 years of the Lange 1 by reissuing a design that has become a modern classic.

Design, as several watch brands have discovered this year, can be extremely polarising, not least because new design, especially within an established brand language, needs to overcome perceived expectations. Such a ‘bedding in’ period can often only be assessed retrospectively, with time delivering the verdict as to its success or ultimate destiny as a footnote in the ‘whoops, really shouldn’t have done that’ category of design.

L1Y25

A quarter of a century since it was launched, the Lange 1 needs not worry about any such mis-steps. Today widely viewed as a ‘classical’ design, it was actually nothing of the sort when it was first unveiled in 1994. Twenty-five years later and the Dresden watchmaker looks to its more recent past this year, with a commemorative 25th Anniversary edition of the timepiece that heralded a sea change at the company. Created by company founder Walter Lange with partner Günter Blümlein, the Lange 1 ushered in a new era thanks to its bold design.

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An outsize date, asymmetric arrangement of its dial and even its size at 38.5mm were received with the kind of feather-ruffled frisson you might compare to women wearing trousers in trousers circa 1850. But, as any social-media savvy shock jocks will understand, a bit of carefully orchestrated attention-seeking can work wonders for one’s brand and so it was with A. Lange & Söhne, who  were ‘put back on the map’ of international precision watchmaking.

Today’s edition features, as did its ancestor, the jumping outsize date display and a movement that is beautifully finished on all its parts.

Its special features include a deep-blue printed argenté dial with a recess, blue date numerals, a hinged cuvette with an engraving of Lange’s headquarters and a hand-engraved balance cock with blued lines. It epitomises what Lange stands for in terms of quality of finishing and is one brand for whom macro photography will never be a problem.

Quite simply, it’s beautiful whichever way you look at it, whether admiring the manually blued engraving pattern on the dial, the three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver, the screwed gold chatons or the hand-engraved balance cock. Turn it over and you will see the engraving of Lange headquarters that date back to 1872 and the names of Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein, and a relief engraving of the inscription “25 YEARS LANGE 1”.

The anniversary edition, limited to just 250 pieces, is released virtually unchanged from its 1994 version, which in itself is a resounding vote of confidence in the longevity of the design – I can’t think of anything from my wardrobe from 1994 that would stand the test of time today, can you?

LANGE 1 “25th Anniversary”

Movement

Lange manufacture calibre L121.1, manually wound, decorated and assembled by hand; precision-adjusted in five positions; plates and bridges made of untreated German silver; balance cock engraved by hand. 72-hour power reserve when fully wound.

Case
White gold; cuvette in white gold with engraving; 38.5mm x 10.7mm, dial in solid silver with blued steel hands.

Strap
Hand-stitched alligator leather, dark blue, grey stitching; white-gold prong buckle.

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