The 20th Anniversary of the Lange One: a moving event.
Lange celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Lange One last week. It was for me a big privilege to be able to attend such event which was very important for the brand. Beyond the celebration of the iconic watch which entered the catalogue in 1994 and has never left it since then, the celebration was the opportunity to remember the first days of the contemporary history of the Manufacture or to be more precise, the days when the first collection was unveiled.A) THE ANNIVERSARY EVENT
As you know, the new company was founded in 1990. Between this date and the 24th of October 1994, the Lange team under the leadership of Günter Blümlein worked intensely to build the first collection and more importantly to define what would be the main features of a Lange watch in the future. We clearly have to understand that the impact of the first collection on the high-end segment was significant. If we browse it, each watch gathers some impressive technical or aesthetic details:
- the Lange One features a perfect dial lay-out, a big date system and 3 days of power reserve
- the Tourbillon PLM uses a Tourbillon with chaîne-fusée
- the Saxonia offers a big date system in a 34mm case
- and the Arkade is powered by a movement which shape follows the case one.
Each of these watches was a symbol of handwind movements created and built with rigour and precision and decorated with flawless finishings highlighting the style (unusual at this time for the watch industry) of the high-end traditional German watchmaking.
Three men led the people in charge of this fascinating and ambitious project, the will to make the Lange Manufacture start again in its craddle with the mission to produce the best watches in the world: the late Günter Blümlein, Walter Lange and Hartmut Knothe. The 24th of October 1994, they unveiled during a press conference organized at the Dresden Castle, the four watches which would be part for ever of the rebirth collection.
Twenty years after, the Lange team organized the celebration at the same place, at the Dresden Castle, a few meters from the presentation room sadly not currently available. It was a great and moving event with the presence of two of the three key persons who made what Lange has become: one of the most impressive high end brands of the watchmaking industry and maybe the only actual foreign competitor of the most prestigious swiss houses.
Günter Blümlein knew perfectly that it was (and still is) impossible for any brand to climb on the horological pyramid. When you want to be on top... you have to start directly on top. Watches like the Lange One and obviously the Tourbillon PLM had this role, to clearly make understand to the collectors, the journalists, the followers of the industry that Lange was back among the top brands.
I propose you to browse the pics I took during these days in Dresden to live again this beautiful event. Then I will give you a closer look on the Anniversary watch.
Everything was ready when I arrived in Dresden. The programme of the Anniversary days was in my room and I could quickly see that they would be very busy!
At the Bülow Palais, one of the rooms was relevantly decorated with the 4 watches of the first collection:
I started the day with a shooting of the Watches & Wonders collection. I will not speak about this collection in this thread since I will do a separate post.
I couldn't miss the opportunity to wear the watches of some of the guests like this beautiful Datograph Perpetual owned by Kristian:
After the shooting, I could visit the Semper Opera. It is obviously a "must-stop" if you are in Dresden.
The idea I had in my mind was to be able to see the famous clock which inspired the large date display of the Lange watches:
The Grand Lange One Luminous in front of the clock:
The last times I visited Dresden were in December. I love the Xmas atmosphere in this city, the markets, the snow which make it very appealing. But the positive point about the month of October is that the weather can be (please note that I'm not 100% sure!) better with a beautiful sunshine like we had during the event. The Lange organization was so perfect that they managed to book the sun for our stay. Well done!
The Katholische Hofkirche on the left and the Dresden Castle on the right:
At the Zwinger:
In front of the Semper Opera:
During my walk in Dresden, I could see this YG Tourbillon PLM in a boutique. A reminder that we were celebrating the 20th Anniversary?
In front of the Frauenkirche:
On Augustusbrücke, time was coming to be back to the hotel to be ready for the event!
The entrance of the Castle:
The event was divided in two parts: the first one which took place in the courtyard, was dedicated to the welcome cocktail and to the presentation of the Anniversary watch.
The surprise was to discover a workbench in the courtyard. But it was more an artistic workbench! Romy Zimmermann (who previously worked in the engraving team and who engraved the balance cock of one of my Lange watches) is now working with Anthony de Haas at the development department. During the cocktail, she was preparing the powder which is dedicated to the black enamel dial of the Anniversary watch. She is now responsible of the production of the 20 dials which will be used by the Lange One Tourbillon Handwerkskunst.
Mr de Haas, the floor is yours!
After the introducing speech by Wilhelm Schmid who presented the context of the evening, Anthony de Haas started to describe the main features of the Anniversary watch.
Handwerkskunst... yes but this time with a different dial approach using black enamel.
Anthony de Haas then unveiled the watch. The question I had at this very precise moment was to know how to shoot the watch. Impossible mission? Not for me!
Anthony de Haas can be proud of this Anniversary watch. I will come back to it below. There were questions about the choice of the Lange One Tourbillon for the celebration of the Lange One, about the limited number of 20 pieces... but nobody denied the beauty of the watch.
After the first part of the event, the guest moved to the room in which the dinner took place for the second part of the event.
What a spectacular scenery!
The ceiling of this recently renovated room made of arcs is a real feast for the eyes. In a way, it made me think to the Modernist Architecture in Barcelona!
Wilhelm Schmid started the dinner programme with a speech about the first days of the rebirth of the brand followed by the 20 years movie visible on PuristSProTV here: tv.watchprosite.com
How lucky I was! My table was close to the stage!
The first course of the dinner:
All the guests were delighted to hear the testimonies from Martin Huber, the famous German AD and Gisbert Brunner who described what they lived the 24th of October 1994. And you can be sure that around the tables a lot of people would have been ready to pay a lot to be able to attend this rebirth presentation.
This guest was wearing a Zeitwerk Striking Time... but also very original and comptabile cufflinks!
The dinner room:
The second course:
One of the key parts of the programme was the F.A.Lange Watchmaking Excellence Award. This year, the watchmakers had to work on a moonphase display powered by an Unitas movement.
The winner comes from Finland. Torsti Laine, who is 42, deserved the award thanks to his clever mechanism which also displays the Earth phases as seen from the Moon. Torsti Laine worked in an IT company and decided a few years ago to change his career and to live his passion. I'm very happy to see him rewarded with this prize after such daring move. Well done!
The third course:
Then, Wilhelm Schmid explained that beyond this world of high-end watchmaking, A.Lange & Söhne is very proud to support charities which undertake a lot of efforts to help the people in distress or difficulty. We never have to forget that in this world of luxury, we are very privileged. Sonnenstrahl is a charity whose aim is to help children diagnosed with cancer and their parents.
We were close to end of the event with the dessert:
All the guests enjoyed a lot this moving event. Of course, things have changed since 1994 and so the economic context, the environment, the expectations of the customers. A brand doesn't act the same way after 20 years of activity than during its first days. But I really felt that the most important thing has been preserved: the Lange spirit. When you are a Lange customer, you feel that you are part of a family and I could experience this emotion once again during the event.
The day after, I took advantage of my presence in Dresden to have a walk in this city I appreciate so much.
As you can see, I did some artistic works!
August the Strong is looking toward Poland... And A.Lange & Söhne is looking at its future with trust thanks to the previous 20 years of success. We know its challenges which can be summed up the ability to speak at the same time to the new and old customers. The inauguration of the new building at the Manufacture next year will help a lot the brand to prepare the future collections and the upcoming SIHH 2015 (another Anniversary year!) will be a good signal about what would be the trends. And I'm sure that the strong assets of the brand will remain.
Thanks a lot to the Lange team for this perfect organization, this Anniversary event will always stay in my memory.
B) THE LANGE ONE TOURBILLON HANDWERKSKUNST
We can imagine the difficulty faced by the Lange team when the choice of the Anniversary watch had to be made. There were, in my mind two options: a superlative or at least complicated watch to highlight the key role played by the Lange One or a "more classic" Lange One, available to more collectors to remind the universality of this watch. Lange took the decision to choose the first option and I can understand the disappointment of some. The Lange One Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is a watch offered in a LE of 20 pieces and which price makes it out of reach for the main part of us.
But when I saw and handled the watch, the disappointment disappeared. The watch is gorgeous and it was for me the most important: it had to be worthy of the Lange One, the classic One, the watch which was unveiled in 1994.
Actually, to be honest with you, when I heard that the Anniversary watch was a Handwerkskunst one, I was a bit afraid. Why? Because I feared that the "more luxuriant" decorative approach of the dial was not compatible with the purety and the strict lay-out of the Lange One dial. Moreover, we already had not so long ago a Lange One with the Handwerkskunst decorative style: the Lange One Tourbillon PC.
So when I discovered the black enamel dial, it was a relief. Then it became more than a relief. A pure joy. A true enchantment.
The Lange One Tourbillon Handwerkskunst can be considered as a mix of the two previous Lange One Tourbillon:
- it has the same Tourbillon opening than the first version: the Tourbillon is overlapped on its upper side but I prefer this solution because the larger opening makes the units disk of the large date visible.
- it features the stop-tourbillon system of the Lange One Tourbillon Homage to F.A.Lange
But please note that there isn't any zero reset mechanism like the 1815 Tourbillon.
I love this watch because it uses a 38,5mm case faithful to the original size of the Lange One. Its black atmosphere makes it even a bit smaller and very elegant.
The black enamel dial is very subtle. At the very beginning, it looks like a classic black dial. But very quickly it offers a wide range of shades, of colours from deep blue to grey and black.
The small second subdial is made of silver and we can feel the difference.
Surprinsigly enough, the element which attracts the eyes is not the tourbillon itself but its bridge. It is made of specular-polished steel and I like the way it decorates the bottom of the dial.
In this black and dark context, the watch is very legible. Of course, Lange took here the decision to have a black large date display which enhances the refinement of the piece.
The Lange One Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is successful because it manages to find the right balance between fire and ice: the sober style of the dial and the impressive decoration and finishings of the movement. There is a feeling of "hidden beauty" with this watch , a kind of selfish pleasure, only known by the happy owner which makes the watch even more desirable.
The beauty of the movement doesn't only come from the flawless finishings. It is also created by the specific lay-out of the three-quarter plate. The plate has several cutouts which reveal the two barrels and which create a lot of inward angles. The movement becomes even more enjoyable with connoisseurs' eyes.
The very good point is that there isn't any feeling of Xmas tree effect here (an overloaded style). The intermediate wheel,crown wheel and tourbillon cocks and bridges, made of German silver, are engraved by hand but the circular finishings of the plate stay the main pattern. So the perfect execution of the engraved parts is better put under the spot lights.
The performances of the caliber L961.3 are of course similar to the ones of the previous Lange One Tourbillon: a power reserve of 3 days for a 3hz frequency.
Let's come back to the dial side. Do you see the different shades created by the enamel dial?
The Lange One Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is pure pleasure when put on the wrist. Its perfect size, its elegance, its legibility, its sober style are its main assets. Actually, it owns all that can define a true connoisseur's watch: a watch which reveals its secrets and details days after days...
Even the tourbillon seems to be shy in this atmosphere. There is no useless visual effect, the watch strictly follows the roadmap to understatement and elegance... but with the touch of originality!
And the touch of originality comes from the dial lay-out very similar to the classic Lange One. We reach here a very important point which explains the success of the Lange One. In our 2014 eyes, the Lange One is a classic watch. But it actually became a classic. It was not born as "classic". The off-centered time display, the non-overlapping hands, the large date... each detail was unusual in 1994.
It is the reason why this Lange One Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is worthy of it because it reminds us with success why the classic Lange One was and still is a perfect designer achievement.
The Lange One Tourbillon Handwerkskunst celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Lange One. The only way to end this article is to wish to the Lange One and of course to the whole Lange collection and team twenty more years of success. So, see you in 2034 in Dresden to celebrate a new milestone?
+ the beauty of the black enamel dial
+ the superb finishings of the movement and the plate cutouts
+ the stop-tourbillon mechanism usefull to accurately set the time
+ the case size which reinforces the elegance of the watch
- the Anniversary watch will be available to only twenty customers which is a bit a pity because the Lange One remains an universal high-end watch.
I would like to thank again the Lange team and all the guests and friends who made this event so successful.
This message has been edited by foversta on 2014-11-02 14:19:32