The A.Lange & Söhne Triple Split watch hands-on
In a world populated by ‘marketers’ - as an amusing video by Moser watches provocatively defined it - there is a manufacturing company that still preserves an authentic tradition of haute-horlogerie. The provocation of the Meylan family was a reference to the Swiss watch-makers and it was uttered just before the opening of the Geneva Fair; a strategic move that created, as was to be expected, some good stirring (and the prompt withdrawal of the campaign too). A.Lange & Söhne is actually the synthesis of the best existing Saxon tradition, which not only is different, but, in my opinion, it is also far superior to the Swiss tradition when it comes to complicated calibres equipped with original complications.
The inventor of the Double Split and of the Tribute to Walter Lange created the definitive rattrapante timepiece that has been laconically named A.Lange & Söhne Triple Split. In Glashütte they have a special talent for challenging complications. It is the legacy and the message that Walter Lange left to his team of master watch-makers and is the spirit that brings the Saxon brand closer to an independent manufacturer rather than to a brand that is actually part of a larger group, where the logic of business could eventually transform its DNA.
The A.Lange & Söhne Triple Split is the triumph of the split-seconds chronograph, because it allows the user to measure events of different time length based on one or more minutes – like on the previously-released Double Split - and on an extended basis that goes up to 12 hours of chronometry (hence a split-minute and split-hour chronograph too).
The double chronograph is the history of time measurement, in particular when it comes to sports and analogue time measuring, where engineers positioned outside the racetrack would precisely time the performances of drivers on single laps and on intermediate sections of the track using rattrapante chronographs. This is a romantic past gone by, but we are lucky enough that, through their timepieces and not just exclusively for sporting purposes, A.Lange & Söhne kept up with this beautiful tradition that, unfortunately, is no longer that popular.
The A.Lange & Söhne Triple Split combines those three functions in a marvellous and peculiar way; the double 30 chrono minutes are jumping, while the double 12 hours are continuous. The central chrono is also equipped with the Flyback function that allows the chronograph to be instantly reset and restarted. It is quite obvious that there is also a tachymeter scale involved. The architecture of the L132.1 calibre has been designed in such a way as to ensure that all the timing functions, once in motion, do not affect the chronometric precision of the hours by avoiding any friction usually generated when the chronograph is being used or when the A.Lange & Söhne Triple Split is used as a standard three-hands with continuous seconds.
To make a comparison, on other applications, these two functions are usually separated – like, for example, on the Breguet Tradition 7077 that features two spirals (and a simple chrono). The A.Lange & Söhne watch-makers, on the other hand, opted for a complex architecture, where all the 567 components are integrated into a single caliber with a single spiral. These are different approaches (and different levels of complication) that stimulate your imagination and make you understand the path that the Saxons embarked on and the level of challenge that they have set themselves up for.
Carefully look at the case-back and try to measure and think about the developmental work and set-up required to create the L132.1 caliber; it is a triumph of mechanics and micro-engineering (and crafting too – note, for example, the bevels on the bridges and the polishing of the levers and the wheels) that has no equal in watch-making and puts A.Lange & Söhne on top of their competitors by crowning the A.Lange & Söhne Triple Split as the real winner of the 2018 SIHH. As per the most-typical Saxon tradition, dials are generally extremely neat and clean, as if they were trying to hide the existing complication living within them. It is almost as if the brand were challenging you to discover by yourself the functions of the A.Lange & Söhne Triple Split.
Basically-speaking, it is not so different from a two-counter-chronograph with a power reserve indicator, where three colors define its personality - the blue color of the chrono hands, the red color indicating the end of the power reserve and of the minutes and hours totalizers within a white gold case with an anthracite gray dial. A clue, however, comes from the thickness of the case that reaches the 16 mm-limit (15,6mm to be more precise) that is needed to give enough room to the special architecture of the caliber. This timepiece is not a dress-watch and it wasn’t originally crafted with that in mind; those lucky collectors, who will be able to put their hands on one of the one hundred available A.Lange & Söhne Triple Split, will be satisfied for a long time and will never look for a valuable alternative, as there will hardly be one.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®