A. Lange & Söhne: A Quick History
As a young man, Ferdinand Alfred Lange attended the Technical College in Dresden, Germany where he apprenticed with a court watchmaker. In this apprenticeship, he also had the opportunity to service timepieces and astronomical instruments at the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments. Here he developed a fondness for the precision timepieces coming out of England and France.
After years of traveling, in 1845, Lange finally established the roots of A. Lange & Söhne in Glashütte, Germany. He earmarked his loan from the Royal Saxon Ministry of the Interior to train 15 horological apprentices and in turn helped elevate the impoverished town. Lange was innovative, even in the beginning. He was the first European watchmaker to use the metric system and he then devised a foot-driven lathe system for his workshop. Specifically, this allowed the watchmakers to get even revolutions on the lathe which improved production of circular watch parts.
So, the Lange company continued to innovate for 100 years until WWII, when on the last day of the war, their main production facility was destroyed. The East German State then took control of the company and all seemed lost. Despite the hardships, when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Lange returned to its roots in Glashutte and the company began making watches and innovating again.
The Ref. 403.035: A Datograph
Modern-day A. Lange & Söhne watches are no exception to the company’s tradition of innovation and precision. The ref. 403.035 Datograph Flyback is a beautiful example of what Lange can do in a timepiece.
First, the specs. This Datograph is in the Saxonia family of Lange watches. It has a 39mm case with a 20mm lug width. The case is platinum with a sapphire crystal and features an exhibition caseback. A L951.1 movement powers this watch and it has a 36-hour power reserve. The movement is a hand-wind and has a column-wheel chronograph with a flyback function. Also, in total, it contains over 400 parts including 40 jewels.
Aesthetically, this watch is gorgeous. On this timepiece, Lange’s precision isn’t limited to the movement. The case is a high-polished platinum with a slim, unobtrusive chronograph and quick date change button. The dial is a rich black, with two striking white subdials. The markers are platinum to mirror the case. The chronograph markers are in white to match the subdials and provide a striking contrast to the black dial. The hands are platinum with white and consequently tie it all together.
But the showstopper on this watch isn’t the front. The exhibition caseback gives a peek at a sophisticated and intricate movement. In many exhibition backs, an oscillating weight obscures part of the view, but not on this Lange. The back gives a view of the hairspring and balance wheel with intricate engravings around them. As a note, each watch has its own, unique engravings. It also gives visibility to the chronograph function when in use.
The precision, beauty, and elegance of this watch are fixtures of A. Lange & Söhne’s watchmaking and quality. It comes standard on a black leather strap, and is an unquestionably stunning addition to a serious watch collector’s wrist.