A three-hand time-only watch isn’t the most complicated horological inception one could imagine. Yet, the ingredients of efficient design and precision mechanics blend in a recipe to create a fine example of high watchmaking.
This expression of simplified accuracy is exhibited at the highest level by the Richard Lange timepiece – a watch dedicated to the A. Lange & Söhne tradition of chronometry precision and advancing the state of the art in timekeeping.
Launched in 2006 and having evolved into a proper collection of myriad off-shoot and “complicated”; pieces, the Richard Lange collection is a coherent testament to the secrets of fine German watchmaking – unfussy, simple, and every bit elegant.
A Definitive Lange Timepiece
The German watchmaking Manufacture A. Lange & Söhne which resides in the Saxon town of Glashütte is an ultimate testimony to the expression that not all great watches and watchmakers come from Switzerland. Following a Germanic “form dominated by function” approach to watchmaking, this crisp and clinical perfectionist in the horological world screams polished efficiency in easily recognizable packages.
Amongst the portfolio of remarkable timekeepers at A. Lange & Söhne, no other watch encapsulates the brand’s heritage and comes close to the practical embodiment of its highest two aims: precision and unrivaled legibility than the Richard Lange.
A classical design dedicated to the 19th Century watchmaker and eldest son of the Manufacture’s founder Richard Lange, this watch first debuted in 2006 and offers strong Germanic influences such as clean unfussy lines, and heavy gothic lettering with a neat overall package. Right from the open spacious dial to the use of a simple classical font, the timepiece presents a carefully orchestrated display of a fine Observation Watch designed to perform.
The Eponymous Inspiration: Richard Lange
As beautifully said by one of the greatest artists and engineers of all time Leonardo Da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, the practical manifestation of this expression is vividly dominant in the A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange timepiece. Before appreciating the collection in-depth, let’s take a moment to understand the inspiration behind the same, Richard Lange.
Richard Lange, a brilliant watchmaker in his own right, was the elder son of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, the founder of the Manufacture who was appointed its director in 1868. Trained at a young age to be a watchmaker, his eminent focus was garnered by the innovations in chronometric precision exhibited to a high example by his designs for escapements, balance springs, and carousels. He was undoubtedly the most inventive member of the Lange dynasty watchmakers and a prominent scientist as well. His continued efforts to elevate the standards of precision in timekeeping earned A. Lange & Söhne many patents and the Manufacture’s inceptions to this date corroborate insights of Richard Lange’s mastery and skills.
Richard Lange Collection – A Perfect Fulfillment Of Heritage
The Richard Lange collection at A. Lange & Söhne was introduced in 2006 as a time-only watch using superb materials and the masterly perfection of calibers to attain superlative rate accuracy, excellent legibility, and ruggedness.
The Richard Lange timepiece is elegance incarnated. Measuring 40.5 mm in diameter and despite being on the larger side for a German dress watch, it wears fairly slim on the wrist, thanks to its 11.5mm thickness. The lug-to-lug dimensions are also nicely constrained making the watch easy to side underneath any dress cuff.
The simple and understated case is a work of art in itself with a triple-tier construction featuring a case band, case back, and bezel. The downward curved shape of the lugs makes this watch wearable across a broad plectrum of wrists even those tending towards the slimmer end of the scales.
A Collection With Two Distinct Dials
The Richard Lange timepiece embodies the tradition of scientific observation watches at A. Lange & Söhne harks back to an era of watches with eminent legibility standards. The family built on the same core of scientific observation watch traditions extends to a collection of timepieces broadly classified by two dial designs.
- The Large Observation Watch Dial
A masterclass in attention to detail, the Richard Lange excels in classical aesthetic allure. The inceptive inspiration is eminent as a modern translation that reinterprets the characteristics of the Large Observation Watch No. 83193 (sold in 1935) for the wrist.
Released in 2006, this watch features a classic minutes’ scale paired with slender Roman appliques. As a three-hand time-only watch, it possesses details typical for scientific observation watches of Richard Lange’s epoch. The timepiece has been made available in 18-carat pink gold, 18-carat white gold, and a Platinum case as well.
The mechanically complicated iterations of this aesthetic include the following timepieces:
- Richard Lange “Pour le Mérite”
A boutique exclusive timepiece featuring a fusée-and-chain transmission.
- Richard Lange Minute Repeater
A limited edition of 50 timepieces featuring a minute repeater to chime the time in hours, quarter hours, and minutes.
- The Regulator Design Pocket Chronometer Dial
A regulator dial aesthetic inspired by Johann Heinrich Seyffert’s chronometer adorns the busier dial version of the Richard Lange timepiece. The displays for hours, minutes, and seconds are separately arranged in a triangular pattern in striving for better legibility across all conditions.
In the Richard Lange collection at A. Lange & Söhne, this aesthetic is adorned by the following timepieces:
- Richard Lange Jumping Seconds
A mechanism with a classic complication of jumping seconds where the seconds hand advances exactly 60 steps per minute.
- Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite”
Directly inspired by the precision chronometer No. 93 crafted by Johann Heinrich Seyffert, this timepiece comes with a fusée-and-chain transmission and a one-minute tourbillon.
- Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar “Terraluna”
A perpetual calendar mechanism paired with one of the most precise showcasing of the current moon phase as well as the positions of the moon and sun for an observer in the northern hemisphere.
A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange – A Time Measurement Pioneer
The masterly perfection of the fine observation watch, the Richard Lange stems from the pursuit of chronometric precision made possible by the Movement L041.2. Beating at 3Hz, the central seconds hand advances at a rate of 6 ticks in a single second serving the incredible capability to track time with an accuracy of 1/6th of a second. With such a strong emphasis on precision chronometric timekeeping, the Richard Lange remains the sole timepiece in the Manufacture’s catalog with a central seconds hand.
The 199 parts of manually wound movement not only set a benchmark for fine chronometric accuracy but adhere to the strict codes of avant-garde level finishing and details. Peeking into the caliber through its sapphire case back reveals a microcosm of magnificently treated metals, each boasting a blend of the finest traditional hand-finishing executions. The movement L041.2 effortlessly merges the codes of traditional movement finishing with modern precision standards.
The Richard Lange with its caliber L041.2 is only the second timepiece to be equipped with the brand’s in-house balance spring featuring an admixture of beryllium in balance-spring alloys. The credit and the 1930 patent for this invention are awarded to none other than Richard Lange himself.
A Contemporary Timepiece With An Inseparable Traditional Allure
Each element of the Richard Lange timepiece right up to the tiniest component forming the shy of 200 parts caliber L041.2 is quite simply a fine work of functional German art. From the hand-engraved balance cock to the crisp lettering on the dial, each detail is crafted by a master.
Timepieces like the Richard Lange make the job of writing about them a pleasurable affair and hopefully a likewise sentiment for the readers as well. Not many watches are created with equal attention to detail and when it comes to the Richard Lange, there simply isn’t a second. This watch is nothing short of a demonstration of true horological mastery. It is a timeless testament and expression of the preservation of centuries of scientific observation knowledge in a tiny showcase for the wrist.
For those who value the scientific and artistic merits of not only a timepiece but also its heritage and the people behind it, the Richard Lange is an absolute treat.