Lange Akademie in Glashutte

Sep 05, 2012,21:32 PM

(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 Press)


A. Lange & Sohne Akademie Report

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)?

This “Lange Akademie” started as the training concept for the retail staff worldwide – with Ambassador, Coaching and Expert levels, in order to show the customers that this sales person is fully qualified to sell and explain Lange watches.  It would take 2-3 years to accomplish these three steps.  Japan's LOC requested to attend such courses (in Japanese) and ALS agreed to provide Japan's LOC members who are full of interest and quest for deeper knowledge with the special Ambassador course similar to the one for the retail staff in 2010.  The first Ambassador course was in 2010, the second in 2011, for those who could not make it in 2010 and the first Expert course was planned this year for the LOC members who had graduated from the Ambassador course.

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)

(2) Lectures
- 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.

(5) Certification!

Now, I hope you enjoy the photo report of this 3-full-day Akademie at Glashutte!


Welcome remark from Mr. Tino Bobe, Director of R&D (and Mrs. Joanna Lange on the right).

(1) Factory Tour

Factory Tour first stop: Engraving Department - each engraver has her/his own signature form.  Ask them, and they can tell you who actually engraved your watch and give you signed certification smile

Complication Assembly - Double Split Assembly

Zeitwerk Assembly

After the 1st assembly (as you know, Lange assembles the watch twice as its policy) - 3/4 plate has not been finished yet.

After the 2nd assembly

Now the most difficult finishing - black polish (tourbillon bridge)

A batch of Datograph U/D bridge parts

... to have vertical pattern on it

Finishing (chamfering) of the hammer of Zeitwerk Striking Time.

This is an interesting revelation...  The bridge (upper side of the photo) is the very hard Honey Gold, and the engraving tip (lower side of the photo) is plastic with Diamond coating (replaced for each task).

The machine is from 1820 - in the warehouse of Lange for a long time.

Yes, to engrave the wavy pattern on the Honey Gold Hommage series models was REALLY done with this machine.

(2) Lectures

Lecture of the Hair Spring by the new head of the department, Mr. Stephan Resch.

Lecture of Quality Control by Mrs. Joanna Lange

Novelty 2012 lecture by Mr. Tino Bobe

...and on his wrist....

(3) Practical Exercises

Attendees were given the white robe with his/her name embroidered smile

Now, the best part.  Assembly exercise of 1815 movement!  The washer is too small!

My all thumbs....


Next is "Perlage"....

And, balance cock chamfering and engraving.  Don't ask me for the result....

The final day - another practice day - Saturday, so teachers are in casual wear, too.

Part 1 - Bend the steel and make a spring used for the Cabaret Tourbillon Stop Second mechanism - the shape is printed on the tool.

And my result - not bad!

Part 2 - Mirror polishing the parts - pressing the part on to the cork.


Use three stages of grinders

Then the result is.... needs a bit more...

Part 3 - Now the toughest one.  To screw and unscrew the balance screws.

How small?

This small!

It is VERY easy to take off just the head of the screw (which is BAD).

I managed to take off and put in again two of them.,,,

(4) Final Test - you have to really study to take high score.

And, the teachers are grading the final written test....

(5) Certification!

The "Graduation Ceremony" - Congrats, our BluNotte smile

4?             The future of the ALS Akademie

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.

Special thanks to:

Many management and staff at A. Lange & Sohne Headquarter and Japan, especially,
Ms. Kaori Ishida
Ms. Keiko Mimata
Mr. Tetsuji Takeyama
Ms. Joanna Lange
Mr. Martin Jonas
Ms. Kirsten Hultzsch
Ms. Ines Mager
and many more - too many to mention!....

World Wrist Watch magazine (published by World Photo Press) - Ms. Tomoko Kayama, Editor in Chief

Ms. Yukie Ziemer Miyata - interpreter all day during our stay in Dresden

And, lastly but not the least, the office of Japan's Lange Owners Club.


ADDENDUM - The town of Glashutte

Some of us made a trip to Glashutte on Sunday, the day after the last day of Akademie to Glashutte again.  Note that it is almost only the Glashutte Watch Muserum that is open on Sunday.  The population on the weekend is surprisingly small here.

A monument for F.A. Lange - Father of watch industry of Glashutte

The town map of Glashutte - lots of watch brands here.

The fist Lange manufacteur building - a few minutes walk from the current ALS "Campus".

The address of this first ALS building

The current ALS Campus.

Akadmie building, but now temporarily occupied by the watchmakers....

The ALS Park in front of the Lange Campus.  As reported by foversta below, this park will be converted to another ALS manufacteur building soon.  ALS is running at full capacity, but not enough to respond to the demand.

The night of Dresden....  Hope to visit again.   Very nice place...

Hope you enjoyed the journey smile


This message has been edited by KIH on 2012-09-05 21:33:32

More posts: 1815CabaretDatographF.A. LangeGlashutteLange 1Lange 1 TourbillonLange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual CalendarLange Double SplitZeitwerkZeitwerk Striking Time

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Awesome report Ken!

 By: BluNotte : September 5th, 2012-21:54
Hey Ken, Thanks for the presentation! I would have loved to read your original article in Japanese too! Hopefully i can still get a copy when i go Japan sometimes later this year. Oh, and thanks for that one shot! Tschuss Stephen

I knew you would love it :-)

 By: KIH : September 5th, 2012-21:57
I will have some extra copies. If you can't find one, let me know. Ken

Sure thing Ken ;) [nt]

 By: BluNotte : September 6th, 2012-08:58

see who i found on the visitors log :)

 By: Hororgasm : September 5th, 2012-21:58
best, Horo ...  

Oh wow.......

 By: BluNotte : September 6th, 2012-08:52
I dont know what to say, except that i do apologise for my poor handwriting! But in a way, this is my Handwerkskunst! Tschuss and thanks for this mate! STephen

Fantastic! Thank you for sharing! nt.

 By: AllThingsWatches : September 5th, 2012-22:11

What a superb report Ken

 By: foversta : September 5th, 2012-22:49
I really enjoyed to read it, you perfectly explained the context and the objectives behind the academy. And the pics are great too. Thanks a lot for this superb and comprehensive post. Fx

Great report Ken!

 By: takashi78 : September 5th, 2012-23:30
Bluenote really loves his blue hehe. Now i know what he wears such small size jeans. Love his articles on that subject as well.

Erm pardon me on this

 By: BluNotte : September 6th, 2012-08:54
But what does the article gives that i wear such small sized jeans? Hoho i seem to be getting heaps of attention here! Yowza! STephen

Enjoyable and comprehensive report

 By: Mark in Paris : September 6th, 2012-01:21
Thanks for this work and the share Ken! It's a real pleasure to be able to see how it works learn more about the company, its facilities etc .... and congratz to the laureates ;) Cheers, Mark

This is very impressive Ken

 By: samwan : September 6th, 2012-03:41
I refer to both the program and your report... Even the presentation material is done in Japanese...amazing! Wish I went through one of these. Best Sam

Well done Ken...

 By: fernando : September 6th, 2012-06:09
and also Stephen for having 'suffered' through the 3 days of the Akadamie at the home of ALS to obtain your zertifikat! :) I wish I could have done mine in Glashutte instead of HK but nevertheless it was a memorable occasion and reading your post brought ...  

It was all well worth it!

 By: BluNotte : September 6th, 2012-08:56
Hey Fernando, I definitely enjoyed myself beyond all else during my days there! Would be nice to have attended with you in the future! Tschuss Stephen

I hope so too Stephen. :) [nt]

 By: fernando : September 7th, 2012-04:28

Congrats! Lucky u [nt]

 By: Horology75 : September 6th, 2012-09:56

Thank you Ken!

 By: patrick_y : September 6th, 2012-10:07
Thank you Ken for the awesome report! As a Lange AKADEMIE Graduate myself, I think you've done more than what I've done... That means I have to go back to school... And this is not an easy school to get into (difficult application process)...


 By: hans_jorgen_1968 : September 6th, 2012-10:58
... truly a dream come true. And so many thank you for was as if I was the myself.. (I day..) Best Hans

Very nice report...

 By: Jester : September 6th, 2012-20:06
I had the pleasure of meeting Joanna last night again and I have to say her depth of knowledge is just impressive. I also particularly like the picture that you showed for the engraver team. I *believe* I have products from 3 or 4 of them and would be koo... 

Thanks for the report Ken.

 By: SJX : September 7th, 2012-01:11
Brings back wonderful memories of my last visit there. - SJX

Dream come true

 By: Horology75 : September 7th, 2012-10:59
I hope they have this for our part of the wold...

ALS+KIH = one of the best formula to enjoy a report

 By: heartbreaker : September 10th, 2012-12:08
Dear Ken, One more time, thanks to your report, I had the feeling that someone in ALS love to cuddle their customers. I find that, in this era of extreme standardization and virtualization, it's a very good news! One more time, thanks to your report, I ex... 

One thing I forgot to mention...

 By: KIH : September 10th, 2012-16:29
You wouldn't have to own one to attend LOC event like this..... Thank you! Ken