A.Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater at SIHH 2015
When I think about a A.Lange & Söhne, despite the manufacture offering five different collections, the Zeitwerk immediately comes to mind, with its unmistakable hour and minute digital visualization, developed with the idea of the jumping numerals mechanism. It is the most aesthetically appealing example, among the various brands, including the independent watchmakers, that have developed such a complication, of a successful blend between a mechanical movement and a digital hour and minutes visualization. At the SIHH 2015, A.Lange & Söhne has launched the ultimate Zeitwerk, a Minute Repeater that once more highlights the distinctive watch layout, while at the same time creating a unique timepiece of high-end watchmaking.
The Saxon manufacture already has a Quarter Repeater in its portfolio, namely the Zeitwerk Striking Time, but the A.Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is unique: at the stroke of 7:52, and after having enabled the repeater by pushing the button (not the slider) placed at 10, you will in fact hear seven low-pitched tones, five two-pitched tones and two high-pitched tones respectively. Two small hammers made of blackened polished steel are clearly visible on the dial, and mark the elapsed hours and minutes on the left and right sides of the dial respectively, while also operating together, albeit with a slight offset, as a decimal minute repeater.
A.Lange & Söhne has thus consecrated the uniqueness of the Zeitwerk when it comes to Minute Repeater making, by blending two fascinating complications that had its watchmakers work really hard to overcome constraints such as the amount of energy supply needed to activate both functions as well as the need, from a mechanical point of view, to operate in perfect harmony. Such an advanced Minute Repeater mechanism has to coexist with quite a complicated disc rotating device, that also has to manage the hour change. For example when the chime is activated, it is not possible to pull the crown out and set the hour and, in critical phases such as that which marks the hour change, at 12:59 for instance, the discs’ rotation is delayed to ensure the chime’s best acoustic performance.
The chime and the hour visualization need at least 12 hours of power reserve, which is marked by a red dot on the power reserve indicator placed at 12. The A.Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater's case is made of platinum, and is 44,2mm wide and 14,1mm thick. The caliber it adopts, coded as L043.5, is a 100% in-house movement. The balance wheel, with eccentric poising weights and a free-sprung balance spring crafted in-house, vibrates at 18000 vph. The movements has 771 parts and features a time bridge made of black-rhodium German silver, an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel.
It is the quintessential high-end Saxon timepiece, the epitome of a monolithic, neat design. The digital hour visualization adds that touch of mystery that may be missing from a classic Minute Repeater. Perhaps one of its flaws is that you cannot, at least according to the data sheet, use it often as a chime, since the manual wind caliber ensures 36 hours of power reserve when fully wound, but without activating the chime itself.
(Photo credit: courtesy of A.Lange & Söhne; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®