In 2011 was presented the latest version of the Saxonia Handwind:
This fine and elegant watch features a 37mm case and some little design changes when compared with its previous version. But I will not come back to them. The most interesting part of the watch remains its movement.
Lange presented at the 2011 SIHH 5 new movements but this Saxonia doesn't belong to the list of the watches using a new one. It houses the brave old L941.1 which was first used... in 1995 when the 1815 was unveiled. 16 years of presence in the Lange catalogue!
We recognize it easily on this picture:
This movement is very important in Lange history because its roots can be found in one of the rebirth watches: the 33,9mm Saxonia. And because it was very frequently the first movement bought by the Lange owners.
This first Saxonia was using caliber L941.3 which is basically a L941.1 with a date display. So, we can say that the architecture of the L941.1 was used from the beginning by Lange. The Saxonia was a radical watch with a small size and a low diameter / thickness rate. The 1815 which was introduced in 1995 could be considered as an "easier" and more appealing simple Lange watch. Larger (35,9mm) and thinner (7,5mm vs 9,1mm), it was also cheaper due to the removal of the date system.
The first 1815, the holy watch?
The L941.1 is a 3hz movement with a power reserve of 45 hours (42 hours with the date system in the context of the original Saxonia). It is quite large for a simple movement coming from the mid 90's (25,6mm) and it is rather thin (3,2mm). It features 21 jewels, 4 gold chatons and it contains all that make a Lange movement so special at that time:
- the swan neck adjustment
- the screw balance
- the 3/4 plate with Glashütte ribbing
- the engraved balance cock
- the nice combo created by the golden chaton and the blued screws
The edges of the 3/4 plate are nicely chanfered and polished. I know that some people are very frustrated by the movement presentation: the 3/4 plate hides a lot of wheels and parts. But you have to remember than in the mid 90's, Lange style was unique and brought something new in the watch industry.
I had the chance with my own 1815 to use this L941.1 for a very long time... and I still use it with a lot of pleasure. There is something that doesn't appear on the pictures but which is known by any Lange owner: on a daily wearing, the L941.1 is a perfect movement. Winding it is a very smooth experience, an unique feeling. The crown of the 1815 is quite small but thanks to the movement efficiency, it is easy to handle it.
The PG 1815:
The charm of the L941.1:
Despite its simplicity, the L941.1 was also a base for other famous Lange watches powering some impressive complications like the power reserve display of the 1815 up and down and... the outstanding moonphase display of the Emil Lange.
With the 1815 up and down, caliber became the L942.1 and kept the main performances of the L941.1... except of course the thickness. With a 3,7mm height, the L942.1was at that time the thinner handwind movement with a power reserve indicator.
I will not come back to the L943.1 because we already talked a lot about the 1815 Emil Lange, a true iconic watch. Please note that the L943.1 is larger than the other movements of the family (27,5mm vs 25,6mm) even if the size of the watch remains the same in its original version (35,9mm). It has 6 gold chatons... like the up and down movement. Its thickness is 3,85mm.
We had the opportunity to see again this movement in 2010 in the context of the Homage to Ferdinand Adolf Lange collection:
Of course, Lange has broadened its handwind offer now with the Richard Lange movement (the only one with a central second hand), the new 1815 caliber or the Saxonia Thin one. They are larger with an increased power reserve. They also have improved regulation systems and in-house spiral in the case of the Richard Lange.
The Saxonia Thin caliber. You will notice that the ratchet, the crown wheel, the click are visible which was not the case of the L941.1:
But the L941.1 remains in the collection thanks to its charm, its efficiency... and its links with the past. I don't know why but a Lange collection without the L941.1 would be for me bad news. A brand has to keep as long as possible these connexions with its glorious periods.
Without any doubt, the first 1815 was and is still a superb entry level watch and one of the best ways to enter the high horology world. Caliber L941.1 plays an important role in this feeling.
So I have a special message to the Lange staff: keep it in the collection please and don't replace it one day by another caliber with improved performances! Maybe it is too small for today's cases sizes, maybe its power reserve is too small, maybe... but after all, we don't really care about this. We care much more about the history of this caliber and the influence it had on the Lange success through the years. When you buy a new handwind Saxonia, there is a little something which recalls us the first Lange watches... and this is the most important thing when you buy a high-end watch: the tradition and the respect of the roots.
PS: of course, the true link with the past is the Lange 1 which has never left the catalogue... but I wished to write this little homage to the L941.1.
This message has been edited by foversta on 2011-09-04 05:20:10