It was Walter Lange who revived the traditional watch making industry in Glashütte by establishing Lange Uhren GmbH in 1990. Last year, the sad news of Walter Lange’s death on the morning of the second SIHH day shocked the world of watchmaking.
In 2018, the company dedicates a special one-of-a-kind timepiece – the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” in steel – to salute the founder of the Lange Uhren GmbH. Featuring a stoppable sweep seconds hand, a black enamel dial and a steel case, this timepiece reflects the eminent heritage of the Saxon watchmaking dynasty.
The 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” with a black enamel dial and a steel case will be produced only once. This makes it as unique as the man whose name it bears. The classic dial, reduced to the essence, is complemented with a technical feature that warrants a further look: the jumping seconds hand.
The jumping seconds was one of his favourite complications because it embodies the puristic notion of precision watchmaking, while at the same time being a piece of family history. It does not divide the second into a number of steps depending on the balance frequency, but instead treats it as a coherent unit of time. A pusher at 2 o’clock starts and stops the sweep seconds hand.
The idea dates back to an invention by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in 1867; in an advanced configuration developed by his son Richard, it was granted one of Germany’s first patents in 1877. Lange’s “one-second movement with a jumping hand” was implemented for the first time in a masterpiece built by his second son, Emil, Walter Lange’s grandfather.
Overall, more than 300 pocket watches with this function were crafted. Just like the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange”, they were endowed with a separate seconds subdial. Buyers included the Leipzig Observatory, Grand Duke Adolph of Luxembourg, Ernst Abbe, the owner of Carl Zeiss in Jena, and the eccentric English watchmaker Sir John Bennett.
As a tribute to a very unusual individual who was dedicated to craftsmanship his entire life, the one-off piece is endowed with a black enamel dial that, with the traditional railway- track minute scale and the polished hands, is inspired by the design of historic pocket watches. The newly developed movement has a special calibre designation: L1924. It refers to Walter Lange’s birth year. Additionally, the first three digits of the reference number 297.078 recall his date of birth, 29 July.
The 40.5-millimetre case of the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” is made of stainless steel, a material that at A. Lange & Söhne has been reserved for only a very few exclusive and special timepieces. As well as this one-off watch, limited editions in yellow, white and pink gold will also be available. The steel version will be auctioned off for a charitable purpose in 2018.
Update 8 Feb 2018
A. Lange & Söhne has announced that the 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” in stainless steel with black enamel dial will be auctioned in partnership with world renowned auction house Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo at the weekend of 12 and 13 May 2018. The resulting sale price will be donated to the Children Action Foundation.
The Children Action Foundation is committed to the physical and mental well-being of needy children and young people all over the world. To date, more than 80,000 children have directly benefited from one of its projects. The motto of the foundation, which was founded in 1994 by the Swiss businessman Bernard Sabrier, is “Every child has a right to childhood”. The complete resulting sale price of the auction will be donated to the surgical programs of Children Action which have already enabled 12,482 operations.
Update on 13 May 2018
At the Phillips spring auction, held in Geneva on 13 May 2018, the only 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” watch ever made in a steel case went under the hammer for an unbeatable price of CHF 852,500 (US$ 852,414; € 713,627; incl. buyer’s premium). This is the highest result at auction that a Lange wristwatch has ever achieved.