A.Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar - Perpetually Yours
Last week, we ended our week with an article devoted to the renowned Saxon watch-making school and it comes as no surprise that, this week, we have decided to continue on with the very same topic by introducing you to another Saxon manufacturer. Today we will talk about A.Lange & Söhne and one of their super-complicated watches, a timepiece that is the living testimony of what the manufacturer from Glashütte can come up with; the A.Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar. There is a hint of emotion and admiration transpiring when I get to put together two terms like “Tourbillon” and “Perpetual Calendar”; two complications that, when integrated within the same caliber, are extremely fascinating, and that immediately turn our attention to the very few brands who are capable of crafting them.
The A.Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar is one of the manufacturer’s “old” creations, that is to say that the reference 720.032 that features a pink-gold case and a silver dial is one of the brand’s trademarks, and this year, the manufacturer has released a new white-gold and gray dial version. The search for minimalism, as I wrote in my article from last week, is usually associated to a richer and less minimalist style in A.Lange & Söhne’s creations if compared to a Glashütte Original for example – its natural competitor – and it entails a series of finishing touches that tend to make these timepieces a bit more similar to the typical decorations of Swiss horlogerie.
As per the brand’s usual standards, all the information available on the dial is laid out in a logic and tidy manner; the off-centered time display, the moon-phase-display inserted at 7 o-clock within the continuous seconds dial, the leap-year-indicator located inside a tiny rectangular window at 6 o’clock, and the counter of the retrograde days placed at 10 o’clock. All these features are 100% A.Lange & Söhne while the decision to separate out of all the watch’s functions is the proof of an out-of-the-ordinary technical challenge.
The missing digital viewing mode of the month, we might have expected given that this is a Perpetual Calendar, is a choice that goes against current trends for those who have made a trademark out of this philosophy (Zeitwerk) and it clearly shows how the brand has willingly decided to preserve the formal purity of the original Lange 1. A.Lange & Söhne has built a ring located at the edge of the dial that lists the names of the twelve months, the ring moves automatically by 30 degrees each end of month and it makes the dial completely flat, the only real opening window being then represented by the outsized date. The one-minute-tourbillon is not facing the same side as the dial but it is partially visible through the see-through-case-back.
The mechanic movement is, as known, able to stick to the calendar up to 2100 when the leap-year-cycle that usually changes every 4 years will fail – there will be no February 29 – so that the user will have to manually adjust the movement. As I said before, the only real big opening window on the dial is the outsized date window, a feature that the manufacturer can’t do without and quite a technically-complicated function to craft too due to the size of the two digits if compared to the size of a so-called “traditional” date display – the size of each of the digital digits is about 3 times that of the traditional digits -. The two discs (the disc listing the tens and the disc listing the decimals) are separated from each other by a tiny 0,15mm-gap, a size that abides by the typical precision standards of Germanic watch-making.
The option to display the twelve months of the year on an outer ring gives an additional “complication factor” to an already naturally-complicated type of architecture. The mechanism requires therefore a re-coding of the information available; the ring sports twelve hollows with different depths on the lower part. A deeper hollow implies a shorter month and thus a more rapid movement to the next month, every month, a lever scans these hollows and, during the month of February, it also scans a cam disc located under the leap-year-indicator. When the lever hits a radius that is bigger than the disc itself, it means that the movement is due after 29 days, when the lever hits a smaller radius, it moves to the month of March at the end of the 28th day.
The one-minute-tourbillon can be halted, putting then together the stop-seconds function and the function that regulates the movement precision with the elaborated algorithm at the base of the perpetual calendar. If compared to a traditional perpetual calendar, there are two additional functions; the patented function for the viewing of the months and that of the outsized date. Such a type of architecture requires a lot of energy to work properly. The energy is supplied through a rotor whose central part is made of gold while the external ring is made of platinum, in the middle lies an inset diamond.
The caliber L082.1 is made up of 624 components and it guarantees over 50 hours of power reserve, the balance wheel runs at a frequency of 21,600 oscillations per hour. The thickness of the caliber measures 7,8mm, the thickness of the case measures 12,2mm while the case diameter measures 41,9mm (this is German precision measured up to the very last tenth of millimeter!)
The price is you need to pay to get your hands on a A.Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar is 315,900 euro, a retail price that is on par with the average retail price of a Minute Repeater timepiece for example. I do not mean the retail price is too high; when it comes to combining together a Tourbillon and a Perpetual Calendar, the caliber has been entirely designed and crafted in-house and features very original technical solutions, the logic behind retail prices loses its meaning and the positioning can therefore be, using the lingo of mathematicians, “as high as you like it “. The main strength of the A.Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar lies in the coherence of the Lange 1 collection, formally speaking, this timepiece is not too different from a Lange 1 Timezone.
The Tourbillon seems to be actually an instrument used to enhance precision – the real reason why it was invented in the first place – rather than a show-off. That means that whoever opts for this timepiece is in love with the most refined horlogerie, he is someone who doesn’t go for anything trivial and is well capable of appreciating the enormous technical effort that A.Lange & Söhne has made to craft a Tourbillon with a Perpetual Calendar that sticks strictly to the Saxon school’s philosophy: the will to be different from everybody else.
For full details about this watch, check the watch data sheet at WatchBase.com
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)
Gaetano C @Horbiter