Alongside its tourbillons, flyback and split-second chronographs, annual and perpetual calendars, astronomical indications and various approaches to constant force, the Glashütte-based Manufacture had been biding its time before now finally releasing its minute repeater watch. For the past three years, the brand’s movement development director, Tony de Haas, had been heralding its intent in the field of acoustic complications, albeit in its own distinctive way.
The first model introduced was a Zeitwerk Striking Time model chiming each passing quarter and full hour, the most basic way of audibly signalling the time. Then came the Grand Complication, issued in an exclusive and astronomically priced six-piece limited edition destined to vanish into the secrecy of private collections. This model features a Grande Sonnerie mechanism embodying the most complex way of chiming the time. The only thing still missing was the classic minute repeater, and A. Lange & Söhne has once again opted to approach this horological complication from a highly unusual angle.
First of all, it is fitted on a Zeitwerk mechanism. Featuring a digital display of the jumping hours and minutes as well as a constant-force escapement, this model is in any case a UFO on the contemporary watchmaking scene, and the Zeitwork Minute Repeater even more so by its nature as a decimal repeater. This means it does not strike the quarters like other minute repeaters, but instead tens of minutes. At 12:59, it will therefore chime the hours 12 times, the ten-minute segments five times (on two notes and thus ten strikes in all) and then the minutes nine times.
This undeniably striking new model should not unduly distract observers from taking note of other changes, since A. Lange & Söhne is springing some other surprises. First of all, the Saxonia line is undergoing a minor reshuffle. It still offers automatic and dual-time models, both featuring subtly simplified dials – which is quite a feat considering the extreme sobriety they already displayed. But perhaps the most astonishing introduction is a hand-wound 35 mm-diameter Saxonia… for men. The trend in recent years has been for more demure, less extravagant watches. Is it now moving towards even smaller diameters? These three models are immediately available in the two white and pink gold colours favoured by the brand from Saxony.
The Lange 1, another pillar of the A. Lange & Söhne collection, has also been reworked. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, this model has undergone a transformation that remains invisible from the exterior. The L 121.1 movement inside is in fact entirely new. While it has less jewels, the same number of components and a slightly slimmer profile, the real changes are the new balance wheel and a new structure with a fully closed three-quarter mainplate.
One may also note that two complicated models in the collection are being interpreted in new gold colours. The Datograph Perpetual combing a flyback chronograph with a perpetual calendar is now available in white as well as pink gold; and the Datograph Up/Down appears in the warm tones of pink gold alongside the existing platinum model. A. Lange & Söhne definitely evolves at its own pace that is not always visible, often substantial, and consistently geared towards excellence.