About A Lange and Sohne

About A. Lange & Sohne Watches

A.Lange & Sohne watch history

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On December 7, 1845, Adolph Lange set up his own production workshops in Glashutte, near Dresden, laying the foundation of Saxony's -- and Germany's - precision- watchmaking industry. For some years, he had been studying ways of producing high-value timepieces of consistent quality in series, and now was the opportunity to realize his ambitions. He started the enterprise with his brother-in-law, the master watchmaker Adolf Schneider, and 15 apprentices.

During his travels, Adolph Lange had drawn meticulously precise plans for new machine tools in his journal/workbook, and had embarked upon the exact determination of movement parts, gearing calculations and conversion tables between the French ligne and the metric system.

His vision and ideas began to take shape. Soon, a fundamental break with many of the traditional artisan techniques became apparent at Adolph Lange's first Glashutte workshops. The introduction of powerful flywheel lathes increased the speed and precision of parts manufacture. His theories on the division of labor encouraged many of his employees over the years to set themselves up in specialist workshops for watch jewels, screws, wheels, mainspring barrels, balance wheels and hands. In this way, Glashutte could become independent from foreign suppliers.

Growing demand for Lange's precision pocket watches, coupled with increasing economic prosperity after the foundation of the German empire, meant that Lange's first workshops soon became too small. Adolph Lange established new facilities for his workforce that had meanwhile grown to almost 60 employees. The buildings, which they occupied in 1873, became the family compound.

The premises accommodated the typical 19th century business organization of the owner-manager, with the Lange family home and the watch-manufacturing workshops in the same complex. As a unique feature, Adolph Lange built a master clock for the new building. It had a nine-meter pendulum of cedarwood and zinc, which weighed 128 kilos.

The Lange family complex marked the golden age of Lange watchmaking from the end of the Franco-Prussian war in 1871 to the Great Depression. In 1895, a telephone link to the Berlin Observatory was installed to get accurate time signals for a new chronometry workshop that expanded the watchmaking facilities.

It was also during this time that Lange's most beautiful pocket watches were produced -- among them, a spectacular Grande Complication repeating pocket watch with split-seconds chronograph, perpetual calendar and moon phase, circa 1908.

The Lange family house was the birthplace of Adolph Lange's grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and it was here that Walter Lange spent his childhood and youth. On May 8, 1945, the main production building -- known as the "hangar" -- was demolished in a bombing raid. Shortly after it was rebuilt, the A. Lange & Sohne Company was expropriated by the Socialist government and all the buildings seized. Like so many watch companies, the production of high-quality wrist watches and pocket watches came to a grinding halt.

The reunification of Germany gave Walter Lange the courage to claim the legacy of a family tradition that he had given up on. On December 7, 1990, 145 years to the day after his great-grandfather Adolph Lange founded the business, he arrived in Glashutte and started a new company, Lange Uhren GmbH.

The news spread like wildfire -- "Herr Lange is back!" Job applications came flooding in; many of the keen young hopefuls presented themselves as descendants of earlier Lange employees whom Walter Lange knew personally. He was thus able to quickly recruit a core workforce from the best craftsmen in Glashutte. It was a far cry from the circumstances surrounding Adolph Lange's endeavor in 1845, when he had to train raw farm lads and simple laborers in the delicate work of watchmaking.

Unfortunately, no suitable factory premises were available, and efforts to reclaim or repurchase the old Lange family buildings were unsuccessful. So it was in the former premises of the precision clock manufacturers, Strasser & Rohde, that the new production facility could be set up. The building was subsequently converted into one of the finest horological workshops, boasting the latest in modern technology, and it was in 1994 that the company produced watches that once again bore the celebrated name of A. Lange & Sohne.

Today, Lange watches are a truly unique product. Although plates, bridges, steel parts, wheels and pinions are cut with exceptional precision by the most advanced computer-aided machine tools, they are always finished, decorated and engraved by hand. Movements are meticulously assembled and adjusted in five positions. Gold or blued steel hands indicate the time and other functions on solid silver dials, and each masterpiece is housed in a case of gold or platinum.

The new-era Lange watches are far from being mere reproductions of the world-renowned timepieces made by Lange before World War II. Yet they bear the imprint and even some of the recognizable features of their predecessors, along with the application of horological complications, which constitutes a particular attraction for enthusiasts and collectors. A few of the company's best known models include the LANGE 1, LANGE 1 TOURBILLON, SAX-O-MAT, and LANGEMATIK.

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All Lange watches are mechanical rather than quartz-driven, and, with the exception of a few special edition watches, all Lange cases are made of precious metals (gold or platinum) rather than steel. All Lange movements are developed, made, and assembled in-house. Lange is also a pioneer in watchmaking technology. For example, it developed a rare "double split chronograph" that enables a wearer to time two events for up to 30 minutes. The company also developed an innovative fusee winding system used in certain models.

Lange watches tend to have a highly distinctive appearance. For example, the iconic 38.5 mm "Lange 1" model features an asymmetric layout with no overlap among its key components: a dial containing the hour and minute hands, a smaller dial containing the second hand, a double window containing oversized digits for the date, and an "ab auf" meter registering the degree of wind left in the watch. Lange's watches are often described as more "austere" or "Teutonic" in appearance than comparable watches produced by Patek Philippe and similar Swiss firms. Finally, Lange watches typically feature a "display back" -- a transparent surface on the back of the watch that permits views of the timekeeping mechanism at work.

* Lange 1 (with outsize date)
o Lange 1 Moonphase (with outsize date)
o Grande Lange 1 (with outsize date)
o Little Lange 1 (with outsize date)
o Lange 1 Time Zone (with outsize date)
* Langematik (with and without outsize date)
o Langematic Perpetual (with outsize date)
* Richard Lange
* 1815 (discontinued in 2007)
* Saxonia (upgraded in 2007; available with or without outsize date)
* Arcade (with outsize date)
o Grande Arcade (with outsize date)
* Cabaret (with outsize date)
o Cabaret Moonphase (with outsize date)
* Chronographs (Double Split, 1815 Chronograph (discontinued in 2007); Datograph [with outsize date]; Datograph Perpetual [with outsize date, produced since 2006])
* Several limited editions (Lange 1A, Grand Lange 1 Luna Mundi, Anniversary Langematik, Tourbillon Pour Le Merite, Pour Le Merite Turbograph, Lange 1A, 1815 Moonphase, Lange 1 Tourbillon)
* Zeitwerk (2009)

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Magnificent" and "accurate" are just a few of the superlatives that come to mind when watch owners describe A. Lange & Sohne timepieces. Lange Sohne replica watches were always among the world's most prized. Celebrities, high-ranking nobility from near and far and even monarchs were among the satisfied customers. They all appreciate the amazing complexity and perfection of A. Lange & Sohne replica watches.

The illustrious name "Lange Sohne" stands for the exceptional achievements in watchmaking, perfection and the utmost in value. The unique intrinsic value of A. Lange & Sohne watches is based on technical ingenuity, useful innovations and traditional elements of watchmaking artistry.

The precious wristwatches that bear the "Lange Sohne" signature have their roots in the grand history of Saxony. The "Lange Sohne" story of a watchmaking dynasty dates back to the Saxon court under Augustus the Strong.

Adolph Lange set out to the Ore Mountains in 1845 and established the Saxon precision watchmaking industry in Glashutte. He and his successors established new standards in high-end horology and it did not take long before timekeeping instruments crafted by "Lange Sohne" ranked among the world's most coveted treasures.

The brand name Lange Sohne is a statement that A. Lange & Sohne watches are different, unique and rare. Its exacting design allows no compromises - only the highest possible standard of mechanical quality and precision. Lange Sohne watches always retain its exclusiveness and peculiarity.

Lange watches are no ordinary timepieces. Each watch is a handcrafted marvel of German micro-engineering, precision and refinement. Each elegant timepiece is individually designed and produced by Lange’s 220 craftsmen, a process that typically takes 9 months. Up to 500 tiny parts go into each watch and new models can take up to 5 years to design, develop and fabricate.

Not surprisingly, retail prices for a Lange watch start at about $10,000 and can go as high as $300,000. Customers typically must wait for more a year or more to be “presented” with a new Lange watch. A. Lange & Sons makes only a few thousand timepieces a year, the exact number a closely guarded secret.

Lange watches - all of which are mechanical, not electric - share several characteristic features. All models are housed either in 18-carat gold or platinum cases. The case backs are screwed flush onto the cases for water-resistance. All watch glasses are made of sapphire crystal with a hardness of 9 on the Mohs. Scale. The solid gold or platinum winding crowns, embossed with the Lange Signature, and the push-pieces for setting the outsize date, are sealed against ingress of humidity. All cases are meticulously finished and polished by hand, and engraved with the serial number, trademark and hallmark both inside and out.

The movement of Lange watches, however, can create the greatest interest and excitement among connoisseurs. Lange presented the Lange 1 Tourbillon at the 1900 World Exposition in Paris. The watch is designed so that the gravitational force of the Earth exerted on the mechanism is compensated with a carriage or tourbillon that revolves about its axis once a minute. The Tourbillon 1 was priced at 1500 gold marks at the time. Ninety years later, it fetched 1.5 million German marks at a Habsburg auction in Geneva and today is considered to be one of most precious treasures in horological history.

Curiously, among the biggest customers of Lange’s low tech watches are high tech tycoons who have plenty of money and an appreciation for precision non-electric time keeping devices. “We are very much committed to exclusivity”, explains Dr. Frank Muller, Managing Director of Lange Uhren GmbH.

Lange retails its watches only through a very few jewelers in the United States. A modest expansion of the workshop is planned, but world demand for Lange watches and for other fine replica watches from Glashutte will continue to far exceed the supply for as far as the eye can see. And in keeping with its old fashioned business style, Lange Watches does not have a web site.

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