By Theresa Valbæk
With a six-digit price tag, timepieces by German watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne are not only among the world’s most coveted but also priciest luxury accessories. Lange & Söhne, the venerable German watchmaker’s company, fell victim to the political conundrums of post-war Europe. Fifty years later, in 1989, the brand was re-launched, and the revived company managed to muster the formidable know-how required to reclaim its position among the world’s most prestigious watchmakers. Novel models by A. Lange & Söhne have been introduced annually ever since – prized designs that have astounded even industry veterans.
Out of this world
The most recent of their timepieces is the *Datograph Perpetual*, dubbed the ‘Tourbograph’. The wristwatch features a flyback chronograph (for timekeeping) and a perpetual calendar complete with moon phase, day-of-week, month, and leap-year display. The design has been on the drawing board since 1998 and pays testament to the company’s horological prowess on the cutting-edge of timepiece design. This technological wonder, released in an exclusive limited edition of just 50 pieces, is built for eternity and only requires technical adjustment every 122 years! The platinum-cased wristwatch comes with plates and bridges of untreated German silver. It has a hand-engraved balance cock and features sapphire crystals front and back. The model is available with a crocodile strap with platinum buckle and comes with a price tag of just under € 400,000.
The Lange dynasty
The chronicle of the watchmaker’s family behind A. Lange & Söhne dates back to the birth of Adolph Lange in Dresden in February 1815. After the divorce of his parents, Adolph found a new home, and with the backing of his newfound benefactors he began training as an apprentice watchmaker with J. C. Friedrich Gutkaes. In 1835, Adolph Lange completed his apprenticeship with honours and remained in Gutkaes’ employment for a few years before travelling as a journeyman through Europe to hone his skills. He recorded his impressions in a journey book, which is today one of the most prized documents on the history of German watchmaking. In 1841, Adolph Lange returned to Dresden with a host of new ideas and became one of the driving forces behind the Gutkaes company. Four years later, in 1845, he left his senior position to start his own business. He hired young local staff and soon became an industry beacon, setting new standards of watchmaking technology. He is, for instance, credited for having introduced the metric system in watchmaking, replacing the complex French Ligne measuring system. Adolph Lange died in 1875 at the age of just 60. His sons inherited the venerable company in the Saxon town of Glashütte of which Adolph Lange had been mayor for a full 18 years. A statue was erected in his honour in 1895.