200 years in the business of watchmaking has made A. Lange & Söhne, one of the few established German companies in a Swiss-dominated trade. Their complicated timepieces make it one of the best, as Anthony de Haas, Director Product Development at Lange Uhren GmbH reveals a 300,000 Euros time-keeper and another that can run for a thousand years without any need for correction.
The company was started in 1845 and you are celebrating the 200th birthday of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, the founder. What is the biggest milestone for you this far? In a nutshell, besides the founding years 1845 and 1990, the presentation of the first A. Lange & Söhne watch collection of the new era, in 1994, marks the most significant milestone in the company’s recent past. The most important events of the subsequent period were the launch of the ‘‘Datograph’’, in 1999, featuring the manufactory’s first chronograph movement and the start of our own balance-spring production in 2003. With its jumping-numerals display and constant-force escapement, the ‘‘Zeitwerk’’, launched in 2009, has all the qualities of a landmark. In 2013, our ‘‘Grand Complication’’ was the most complicated wristwatch ever made in Germany. This year, the inauguration of the new Lange manufactory building is yet another highlight and temporary peak in our history.
The German company had closed down, but it was resurrected in 1990, how much of the past is present in your watches now?
The 200th anniversary is an appreciated opportunity to remind us that there is no future without a past. Ferdinand Adolph Lange established the tradition of A. Lange & Söhne as a performance-and-innovation-driven brand. From this heritage, we derive our mission to keep on setting standards in fine watchmaking. With every launch of a technical innovation or a sophisticated complication, we revive this spirit.
Name five timepieces that have withstood the test of time?
The way we develop our watches, every new model is pre-destined to stand the test of time, and most of our former developments have met this requirement. What I am most proud of is that we have managed to shape five high-profile and successful watch families. When you take a look at any model of the ‘‘Lange 1’’, ‘‘Saxonia’’, 1815, ‘‘Richard Lange’’ and ‘‘Zeitwerk’’ series, you will immediately realise that each of them represents an important facet of the brand’s personality.
Who do you think will make a great brand ambassador for your watches from India?
It takes all kinds to make a world. What might be suitable for some watch brands does not necessarily work for a brand like A. Lange & Söhne. A Lange watch stands for itself. Our customers are independent-minded personalities, who have developed their own style. That makes every owner of our watches an ambassador of the brand. Therefore, we prefer to concentrate on building personal relationships with the key people in each market.
You only make 5,000 timepieces in a year—what remains your biggest strength?
Regardless of the number of watches or the complexity of the movements, our watchmakers have but one goal-to build the best timepieces possible. It means that in terms of quality, accuracy and dedication, A. Lange & Söhne makes no difference between a sophisticated complication like the ‘‘Zeitwerk Minute Repeater’’ and a classic three-hand watch like the ‘‘Saxonia’’. Every watch is endowed with an in-house calibre and equipped with a precious case of gold or platinum. All movements are treated with the same attention to detail, from traditional finishing techniques applied to all watch parts down to the elaborate double-assembly procedure.
Which is your bestselling watch?
As an all-time classic and brand icon, the ‘‘Lange 1’’ and the other models of this watch family are still a major driving force behind the success of the brand.
What is your biggest contribution to horology?
To re-establish a second centre of haute horlogerie outside Switzerland is, without doubt, the most sustainable and valuable contribution of A. Lange & Söhne to the world of fine watchmaking.