(Note that this is the modified translation of the magazine
article I wrote - "World Wrist Watch" - plus some
additional material. Had to wait until the magazine has been
published. Posted with permission of the magazine and the
publisher, World Photo
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the “Lange Akademie Tour 2012” organized by Japan's Lange Owners' Club (“LOC”) and ALS Japan, held at the Headquarters of A. Lange & Sohne (“ALS”) in Glashütte. To me, ALS was the beginning of this hobby on the serious level, and this visit and the Akademie is just like “a dream come true” and an unforgettable experience.
1? What is the ALS Akademie (Lange Akademie)?
Akademie” started as the training concept for the retail staff worldwide
Ambassador, Coaching and Expert levels, in order to show the customers
this sales person is fully qualified to sell and explain Lange
would take 2-3 years to accomplish these
Japan's LOC requested to
attend such courses (in Japanese) and ALS agreed to provide Japan's LOC
who are full of interest and quest for deeper knowledge with the special
Ambassador course similar to the one for the retail staff in
first Ambassador course was in 2010, the
second in 2011, for those who could not make it in 2010 and the first
course was planned this year for the LOC members who had graduated from
In the meantime, the “Connoisseur’s Akademie”, the training concept for enthusiasts has spread to other markets worldwide and ALS started to give such courses, in the local markets, not necessarily in Glashütte, however in Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok etc.
2? The Curriculum this year and what is “customer service”.
The course content for the “Expert Course” is adapted from the course for the global retail staff to better suit the needs of us enthusiasts, so expectations were high. We had the opportunity to visit specialized departments of the manufacture, such as the Hairspring production, pocket-watch case refurbishment and even try the traditional guilloche technique on a machine from 1820.
We were given insights into Quality Control at Lange and the new collection, including technical information on the new perpetual calendar mechanism in the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar. We also had practical workshops assembling an 1815 movement and advanced engraving and finishing techniques.
It was as always highly appreciated that the actual watchmakers and the senior management did take time to teach and discuss with us, and let us see inside these specialized areas of the manufactory (normally, no camera allowed) and participate in the interactive practical workshops. We all thank ALS Headquarters and ALS Japan for it and once again realized the depth of its customer oriented culture.
3? Summary of the Course (See photos below)
(1) Factory Tour (Photos permitted only for the Magazine and PPro)
- Hair Spring
- Quality Control
- 2012 Novelties
(3) Practical Exercise
This was the biggest fun part for me. Of course, no one can be a great watchmaker overnight and i was helped by the teacher, but when the movement started working, the excitement was beyond words.
(4) Final Paper Test
My result was almost the last among the students.... All the participants had attended the Ambassador Course which I could not attend for the last two years due to my day job schedule. Some of the questions were really unheard of for me - "hoe many in-house movement have been made so far? (Answer: 43) “How many traditional finishing techniques exist in ALS? (Answer: 11), “What is the most difficult finishing technique? (Answer: Black Polishing), “What is the special ingredient in the hair spring? (Answer: Beryllium), etc. Having said that, thank you Akademie for letting me pass and giving me the Certificate. I couldn't be happier.
Now, I hope you enjoy the photo report of this
3-full-day Akademie at Glashutte!
The “Connoisseur’s Akademie” for Lange enthusiasts distinguishes itself from the courses for retail staff in course content and in the titles awarded upon graduation. Our Certificate says “Connoisseur”, instead of “Expert”. Although Japan is no longer the market most brands now focus on, Japanese collectors have a long and vast knowledge and love of what goes on inside the movements. Many collectors buy watches after careful study, know a lot about the history and inside of the watches, and they have been one of the major forces that supported the industry for a long time. This Akademie started by the request of the group of Lange owners and I sincerely hope that ALS continues to provide such courses to the new owners and long time owners alike globally. The input from the knowledgeable, true connoisseur collectors through these seminars must be beneficial for them, too.