A.Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar: Live from the SIHH 2017
In the personal history of A. Lange & Söhne (a manufactory founded in 1845), the year 1815 represents a very important date as it is the year when Ferdinand Adolph Lange (the founder himself) was born in Dresden. He was a very important personality in the history of watch-making (not only for what Saxon horlogerie is concerned), and he was the very man who contributed to the industrial development of a small industrial town called Glashütte in a time of deep economic crisis, a city that thanks to him, found the energy to turn itself into a thriving industrial powerhouse specialising in precision mechanics. The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar is the perfect tribute to the roots of this manufactory that we naturally associate to the outsize date and to the digital viewing concept of hours and minutes (Zeitwerk).
Despite its small size, A. Lange & Söhne can boast an impressive collection of 59 in-house calibres, and, among these, there is the L051.3 calibre that equips the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar; the second calendar within the collection following the success of the Saxonia and one of the new releases presented at the Geneva exhibition. This is the Annual Calendar complication's debut in the 1815 collection; the collection that, from both an aesthetic and technical side, is more strictly linked to the tradition of pocket watches, which are, nowadays, among the most sought-after A. Lange & Söhne timepieces. The 1815 collection is the only brand's collection where the outsize date (inherited from the “five minutes clock” that is visible inside the Dresden Semper Opera and whose design was achieved with Ferdinand Adolph Lange's help) is not even used but it is actually replaced by a viewing mode entirely based on analogic indications.
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar is available in pink gold or white gold, it sports three counters displayed in a “V” formation, where, at 3 o'clock, one can find the month indicator, the double indicator of the day of the week and the date is located at 9 o'clock, while the moon phase feature shares the space devoted to the small seconds indicator, placed at 6.
The three counters are slightly recessed if compared to the flat surface of the dial that is made of sterling silver and that features hands made of gold. The very same material is also used for the case that measures 40mm and is slightly above 10mm thick, the hours and minutes hands display the same light blue colour as the sky present within the moon phase sector.
The L051.3 calibre is manual, it is the heir of the pocket calibres designed by F.A. Lange, the inventor of the ¾ plate still made of natural Nickel silver. The plate is open towards the winding pinion and the crown so that the user can easily enjoy for himself the manual-winding process, the ¾ plate and the swan-neck-regulation-system are the first trademarks of a German haute-horlogerie timepiece (that has adopted the original patent signed by the American watch-maker George Reed in 1846).
The “col de cygne” regulation system is a fine tuning device that has become both a manufacturing sign and a decoration element too; this can be observed on the balance cock that is entirely hand-engraved. Despite the annual calendar being unable to calculate the leap-year-cycle, the L051.3 calibre is pretty evolved and it was designed to simplify the regulation process as much as possible. The button located at 2 o'clock allows the user to move forward all the indicators at the same time when the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar hasn't been wound in 72 hours, it is also possible to separately regulate the day of the week, the month or the moon phase, whose indication is exactly calculated for the next 122,6 years, thank to correctors positioned on the case.
If you take a look at the dial, you will immediately notice the four “symbols” located at 3,6.9, and 12 o'clock that intersect the chemin de fer minute ring. Those symbols, together with all the characters used by A. Lange & Söhne, are a simplified version of the “Engravers” font created by Robert Wiebking; a fonts designer that came up with this font for Monotype (a company founded in the United States in 1887 where the designer was employed after moving to Chicago). The austere style transmits the contents with the Saxon manufacturing school's exceptional power; these are dissimulated by the rigorous and understated style of the dials.
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar retails for .37,000 euro. Both the retail price and its characteristics could raise objective and personal opinions; among the first ones is the exceptional crafting of this annual calendar, its impeccable manufacturing, a faultless calibre that slowly warms up the heart of those who are constantly looking for the most authentic form of watch-making and that find all the answers they are looking for in this 1815 timepiece. As far as I am concerned, I found that this watch was a real surprise, I was more incline to associate Saxon manufacturing to the Lange 1 and the Zeitwerk but with this new timepiece, A. Lange & Söhne has created another milestone in the world of annual calendars and it has offered a classic and well-balanced three-counter-watch to those who are looking for a complicated but entirely analogic A. Lange & Söhne timepiece.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®