The new 1815 “200th Anniversary F. A. Lange” in a limited edition of 200 watches stands out with purity and perfection. It is a horological monument created by A. Lange & Söhne to commemorate the anniversary of an eminent and charismatic founding father.
Each detail of the timeless design and artisanal immaculacy of the L051.1 manufacture calibre pays tribute to the great Saxon watchmaking pioneer. Apart from the three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver, key hallmarks include the hand-engraved balance cock, the classic screw balance, the whiplash spring, the gold chatons that secure the bearing jewels, and the thermally blued screws. The serial number engravings on the case from 001/200 to 200/200 identify each watch as a proud exemplar of the anniversary edition.
The 40-millimetre platinum case and the black solid-silver dial emphasise the sleek elegance of this timepiece. With its three levels and the subsidiary seconds at six o’clock, the face is reminiscent of the legendary pocket watches crafted by Ferdinand Adolph Lange.
His objective, he wrote in 1843 to the Saxon government when he was 28, was “to imbue the watch itself with the great and important flawlessness and simplicity that originate from my considerations and diligence”. In the letter, he expounded on his plan to produce pocket watches in Saxony. This vision began to materialise two years later in his newly established manufactory. The former mining town of Glashütte had become a hub of fine watchmaking.
But before Lange laid the foundation for the global fame of A. Lange & Söhne with trailblazing chronographs and pocket watches with jumping seconds, remontoirs and quarter repeaters, he initially focused on the simple pocket watch. With continual design improvements, he achieved a superb degree of precision and reliability that buoyed his fledgling business. One good example is the three-quarter plate which evolved over several stages until its final form was developed in 1864. It was responsible for the stability of Lange’s movements and defined the style of Saxon watchmaking.
The latest-generation A. Lange & Söhne wristwatches are also endowed with this prominent component, an inimitable style and design element that can be admired through the sapphire-crystal caseback.
Born in Dresden on 18 February 1815, Ferdinand Adolph Lange ranks among Germany’s foremost economic trailblazers of the 19th century. Trained in natural sciences and classics, he began to realise his entrepreneurial vision of crafting the world’s finest watches in the former mining town of Glashütte in Saxony – he was just 30 years old at the time. He succeeded in developing a successful business from the ground up and laid the cornerstone of a further hub, next to Switzerland, of precision watchmaking.
One of his great accomplishments is the introduction of the metric system in horology. He invented measuring instruments such as the dial micrometer, which made it possible for the first time in watchmaking to measure hundredths of a millimetre. And he devised new tools that improved precision in parts manufacturing. With these parts, in turn, he was able to improve the rate accuracy of pocket watches. Several patents confirm that Lange also boosted precision in fine watchmaking with new design concepts. The constant-force escapement, jumping seconds, a chronograph mechanism and a quarter-repeater are some noteworthy examples. The three-quarter plate he developed embodies his horological ideals and his quest for perfection in simplicity. It improves the stability of the movement. The prominent component became the style-defining hallmark of his pocket watches. With his innovative design approaches, Ferdinand Adolph Lange created the foundation on which the A. Lange & Söhne brand gained international fame and helped turn “Made in Germany” into a global seal of quality.
As an idealist and humanist, Ferdinand Adolph Lange encouraged his best employees to establish their own companies. He created the prerequisites for prosperity in a once impoverished region. In his mind, entrepreneurial success and public welfare were complementary, not contradictory. During his tenure as a mayor of Glashütte, he was committed to an attractive townscape and had roads, embankments and bridges built. As a representative of the Saxon Landtag (parliament), he lobbied for a traffic connection from Dresden to Glashütte. In 1870, when he resigned as mayor, the community of Glashütte granted him honorary citizenship and as a token of gratitude established the Lange Foundation which would fund retirement benefits for local watchmakers.
Since 1895, a monument on the market square in his home town of Glashütte has testified to his many accomplishments. During a ceremonial event on 18 February 2015, the city will also unveil a commemorative plaque at the former mayor’s office.
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