A day with Lang und Heyne
Three weeks ago I spent an entire weekend in London and all Saturday long at the Saatchi Gallery, walking through the booths of the SalonQP, perhaps the most “intimate” among horological fairs, a place where visitors do really get in touch the most with their favourite brands. This time I've been there as a tourist more than a blogger. Exactly one year following the 2013 edition, I have browsed mostly those brands I'm not really aware of yet and, among them, were the ones that belong to the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants.
Adding to your collection a timepiece made by one of the aforementioned brands is as picking up a made to measure suit from your personal tailor, or stopping by Jermyn Street and choose last and leather for your next handmade loafer: it's hard to think about anything else that could best resemble the idea of manufacture, creativity and bespoke. What I was not aware of and just discovered while surfing their website (www.ahci.ch) is that the association includes and promotes talents from around the globe, as among its members are, just for example, watchmakers from Japan, Northern Europe or Saxony. On top of that one of its founders, Vincent Calabrese is, something I'm a bit proud of, from Naples as I am. The AHCI co-founder, Svend Andersen, once stated: “At the AHCI you can touch the watchmaker who makes your watch.“ That's true as I just met, truly yours, Mr Marco Lang founder and owner of Lang und Heyne.
Marco is a fifth-generation watchmaker that's why even if its brand is pretty young, its timepieces have a longstanding Saxon heritage, that with the Augustus I dates back to Augustus I of Saxony and his passion for fine mechanics along with celebration of events. The Augustus I draws therefore inspiration from Dutch watchmaker John Twaalfhoven's patent, that's all about a calendar with the addition of an Anniversary complication to celebrate your loved ones' birthday. By just pressing a single push-button you can set hour and date while managing an “Event” complication.
By setting into this position the small hand placed upright, just rotate the crown and you will see simultaneously: name of the person appear in a window at 6, day and month of its birthday at 12, the beloved one's age displayed in tens and units, by using two registers, up the index at 6. The prototype I've been explained by Marco has Ban Ki Moon's name on it and I do know now he was born June the 13th and this year has turned 70. Press again the push button and the upright indicator moves to the “Year” position, so that by rotating clockwise the winding crown the mechanism displays Ban Ki Moon's age update as years pass by.
The Lang und Heyne Augustus I is made in 18k gold or platinum and is 43,8mm wide (quite an unusual size) and 12,5mm thick, not too much if we consider this is a complicated watch, as technically interesting as funny.
The Lang und Heyne Moritz von Sachsen has, at first glance, a more traditional take: it is a full calendar with the addition of a disc at 12, upon request of a customer, that inclines to indicate directly the degree of the sun to the equator at midday. It is the only timepiece, they claim, to feature such a complication. The design too, to be honest, is quite original as the case boasts a three lugs architecture, chamfered crown protectors and blued spade hands you easily find almost everywhere on the brand's collections.
The Augustus I and the Moritz are powered by calibers VII and III respectively. If their dial tells much of the complication that lays inside, is caliber VII, for example, that displays on the case back what's hot when buying a fully handmade fine timepiece: take a look at the decoration made on its bridges and wheels. In addition, the wheel train has been fully separated from the calendar complication that relies on the other side, just under the dial.
These observations give a glimpse of what this manufacture is, hoping I could soon pay a visit to its workshop in Dresden. I think you're not going to buy a Lang und Heyne just as an alternative to what's out there from mass market producers as there is no benchmark: the Augustus I is being produced at a rate of 3 pieces per year. That's why I did not ask its retail price to Marco. The Moritz is a bit less exclusive as it is produced in three variations and no limited production has been ever declared, even if we're, however, in front of very limited numbers. If you're looking for your own traditional high-end timepiece, you're a true connoisseur, and your desire is to be part of an elite, a Lang und Heyne Augustus I or Moritz could be your choice.
For further information please visit the official Lang & Heyne website.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Lang und Heyne; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®