Watches And Wonders 2022 created quite some noise among the watch community owing to the fact that it was the first physical event after the pandemic. Maisons rejoiced that they could finally meet their clients in person while others were looking forward to the exciting launches. Our Founder Karishma Karer caught up with Wilhelm Schmid, CEO at A. Lange & Söhne to discuss their 2022 novelties amongst other industry updates.
THM: How has the experience been for you at Watches and Wonders 2022?
Wilhelm: If you haven’t exercised for a while and you start again all your muscles open up, well this is what the experience has been for me. While it’s lovely to be back. I always say we have learnt the importance of the digital world the hard way. But I’m also glad to realize that one moment of truth when what you think a watch is, how it feels and how it wears, there is no substitute for that magical moment. As convenient as digital launches are, the moment of presenting the watches to journalists, and clients; that’s a magic moment. And only for that moment it’s probably worth all the effort!
THM: Coming to your 2022 novelties, can you talk us through the all-new slimmer Grand Lange 1?
Wilhelm: Of the three watches that we launched, this one has the highest surprise element for me. On viewing the watch for the first time during the final execution, I was blown away by how different the watch looked in terms of design compared to the previous variants. The challenge was to make it different without changing it. After all, Grand Lange 1 is the face of the brand. The one feature that stood out for me was how close the crystal on the caseback and the dial are to the movement. It gives a special appearance to the timepiece which allows you to see the difference between a classic Lange 1 and a Grand Lange 1 even from a distance. As easy as making it slimmer sounds, in reality, it isn’t.
If you shave 0.6mm off a watch without going fundamentally into the movement there are alot of tricks. It took us a while to get it right. For instance, the indices for the frame of the date are half the height of the other ones. But, to get the proportions right, now that took quite a while. So we have worked on the smallest of details to make it slimmer but eventually it was all worth the effort.The team has done a great job!
THM: Next on the list, is the new platinum Richard Lange Minute Repeater…
Wilhelm: As you know at A. Lange & Söhne we always have a theme that helps us structure our annual activities. Last year was about subtle differences while this year is devoted to the highest standards. For the Grand Lange 1, we took an existing watch and made it slimmer. For the minute repeater, bearing in mind that we still have the Zeitwerk Decimal Repeater, the idea was to create a very different minute repeater. So there is the very contemporary Zeitwerk at a price which is a bit bulkier, and now we planned on introducing a totally traditional minute repeater.
At 9.7mm with a 39mm diameter it is even slimmer than the Lange 1 and just a touch wider. Even with a three-piece enamelled dial, which has been executed in house for the first time, the height is phenomenal. It’s a waterproof minute repeater and has great usability. Apart from that, when you pull the crown, you cannot activate the minute-repeater and vice versa. Basically it is blocked either way since that is the best way to kill a minute repeater.
THM: Which finally brings us to the all-new titanium addition to the Odysseus family…
Wilhelm: While I prefer straps to bracelets, I have to confess that the material of this timepiece is hard but doesn’t feel so on the wrist. It’s an extremely convenient timepiece and super light; weighing only 109 grams. The much spoken of finishing on the watch comes at a price since every link had to be decorated and polished individually.
It is limited to 250 pieces because of the capacity. While we produce 5,500 timepieces yearly, a certain proportion of the capacity is allocated to the Odysseus family. The steel and white gold are in short supply. So, increasing the production of the titanium pieces will only aggravate the situation further.
THM: What are your thoughts on titanium being used as a metal in fine watchmaking?
Wilhelm: Since the launch of the Odysseus we have always stated that it is an Odysseus and not just another steel watch. The Odysseus family of watches allows us to play around while we cannot do the same with our traditional families. This freedom has allowed us to introduce a titanium edition. The making, structure and working with a new material help us elevate our competence within the company.
THM: Thoughts on the growing luxury watch market…
Wilhelm: Look, everyone is happy about this and we are no exception. I’ve been around too long to know that what goes up must come down. Now is the time to stay humble and vigilant. Although I do think things are a little overheated right now. At A. Lange & Söhne we stay very true to ourselves focusing on managing the demand and expectations.
THM: The world of vintage watches…
Wilhelm: At A. Lange & Söhne you can send in any of our watches regardless of how it has been destroyed or abused and we will bring back its former glory. We have been doing this for the last 25 years, even for pocket watches. People tend to forget that every vintage watch was once a new watch and we are focusing more on creating vintage watches of tomorrow rather than taking too much care of the vintage watches of yesterday!
On a global front A. Lange & Söhne is now consolidating their distribution. Why? That aggregation of service competence that watches offer is something that clients and customers today most certainly appreciate. A. Lange & Söhne is looking to maintain a balance so that the clients can view more at a single access point than have a few watches distributed across the globe. As rigid as they are about not digressing from their designs and production, Lange is very receptive to design the approach and the access to the Maison as expected by their clients.