Revealed in 2009, the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk is a truly unique timepiece. With its digital time display mechanism and distinctive time bridge, the Zeitwerk immediately turned heads in the luxury wristwatch world and proved a major success for the Glashütte watchmaker.
Shortly after its release, it made history. In 2009, it won the “L’Aiguille d’Or” award at the Grand Prix D’Horlogerie in Geneva — the first time a non-Swiss watchmaker had ever won the award. As one of the year’s most innovative watches, the Zeitwerk was a hit.
The Zeitwerk Luminous 140.035 was the second iteration of the Zeitwerk — a timepiece with a distinct black translucent dial that gave the wearer a glimpse of the watch’s luminous numeral markers working quietly and precisely in the background whenever they looked at their wrist.
Only 100 were made, and they quickly sold out. Today, we have a stunning and exceptionally rare A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Luminous 140.035 available for sale.
Before we dig into the details of the Zeitwerk Luminous, let’s look at the background and origins of its maker.
Understanding the A. Lange & Söhne Brand
In 1845, Ferdinand Adolph Lange started a small watchmaking business in Glashütte, a small town in what is now the German Free State of Saxony. The business, launched with financial support from the Royal Saxon government, was the first of many Glashütte watchmakers.
Originally called “A. Lange, Dresden,” the watchmaking business grew into a family business involving Ferdinand’s sons Richard and Friedrich. In 1868, “A. Lange, Dresden” turned into A. Lange & Söhne and established itself as one of Germany’s finest precision watchmakers.
Over the following 80 years, the family business evolved from precision pocket watches to high quality wristwatches. In 1948, the Soviet Union’s administration of East Germany put the family business in a dire situation, with its assets confiscated and production halted.
In 1990, Walter Lange, the great-grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, refounded the business from Glashütte, introducing its first selection of new watches in 1994. Today, A. Lange & Söhne is one of the luxury horology world’s most esteemed watchmakers.
HODINKEE’s Jack Forster compared it to similar brands such as Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe accurately and eloquently:
“Imagine an opera: If the Patek is the smoothly urbane patron in the box, and the Vacheron is the diva, then the Lange’s the quietly assured financier bankrolling the whole production as a gesture of largesse to the community of lovers of the arts.”
Despite its long history, A. Lange & Söhne isn’t afraid to experiment. The Zeitwerk Luminous we will examine today is one of the company’s (and the entire horology world’s) most inventive and avant-garde pieces yet, with an intriguing design and outstandingly precise movement.
More than anything else, the Zeitwerk Luminous is a watch for people that love the art of watchmaking, from a watchmaker that cares about quality and beauty.
Examining the Zeitwerk Luminous 140.035
One year after releasing the Zeitwerk, A. Lange & Söhne were left with a challenge. Due to the watch’s window display, which kept the hour and minute indication figures behind the dial most of the time, viewing the figures clearly at night could be challenging for the watch’s owner.
The solution to this challenge came in the form of the Luminous, which uses a light-permeable sapphire crystal, allowing the hour and minute indication figures to receive UV light even when they aren’t visible throughout the day. The result is a watch that’s unique for so many reasons, from its daring digital display format to its black, semi-translucent dial to its incredible mechanical movement, which is both huge and awe-inspiringly complicated.
One of the most impressive design features of the Zeitwerk Luminous is the way all three of its hour and minute figures move simultaneously. The watch’s movement expertly stores energy, delivering it to three discs at the same moment to create a seamless transition between minutes and hours.
Powering this digital time format is the 33.6 mm, 18,000 vph Caliber L043.1 movement, which sits on 66 jewels and incorporates 388 separate parts. The hand-wound movement has a 36-hour power reserve, which is indicated in a large display at the top of the dial.
Seconds are displayed via a traditional analog seconds hand. The Zeitwerk’s more traditional analog power reserve and seconds dial serve as a nice complement to the time bridge, which holds the digital hour and minute indications.
Exquisite, Unique Design
What separates the Zeitwerk Luminous from other A. Lange & Söhne timepieces is its eye-catching design. With its semi-skeletonized, smoky dial, the Luminous stands out as a special watch.
The original Zeitwerk had a solid silver dial; the Luminous has a smoke colored, black sapphire crystal that reveals just the right amount of the watch’s movement. The time bridge, originally made of silver, now has a black PVD anti-glare coating.
As beautiful as it looks during the daytime, the Zeitwerk Luminous comes alive at night, as its phosphorescent numerals start to glow from the left and right side hour and minute displays.
With its platinum bezel, the Zeitwerk Luminous looks stunning on a black leather bracelet. At 42 mm, this is a large, stylish timepiece with a great deal of presence on the wrist and innovative styling that immediately sets it apart as something special.
One of only 100 produced by A. Lange & Söhne, the Zeitwerk Luminous 140.035 is a charismatic timepiece perfect for someone wishing to stand out from the crowd with a rare, iconic watch from one of the horology world’s most respected brands.