A. Lange & Söhne: Come to the dark side

by Valerie Wee

If there was a watch that could catch the roving eye of a collector, it would be the latest Datograph Up/Down Lumen.

After all, this latest Lange is LIT.


The second limited edition Datograph ever produced, the fourth in a luminous lineage which includes the legendary Zeitwerk Luminous Phantom, the new A. Lange & Söhne is, subtly put, a pretty special watch.

Never mind the fact that it has that peculiar but lovely counter hand that quivers and hops in one-minute intervals, instead of the usual slithering forward seen by most stopwatches.

Maybe the fact that this platinum Datograph with its elegant symmetry of circles, from the registers to the date display just doesn’t rock your boat. (By the way, the Up/Down mention in its name actually refers to an additional function where the power reserve reliably indicates how much of the watch’s 60-hours running time is left.)

Or that you’re tired of hearing everyone else marvel at the date displays where the rotating disc for the second digit is a lace of glass with a central dial of sheer sapphire and ornate details.

Well, if that’s the case, the rest of us are glad since there are only 200 or even less (now) of these beauties out there in the wild.

In addition, many earnestly believe that even the most jaded pair of eyes will light up when they behold the starry glow on show by this lovely Lumen when the lights go out.

The hour and minute hands in solid gold, the trademark outsize date, power reserve indicator, sub-dials for the running seconds and 30-minute totalizer, the tachymeter scale and even the flange – they shine brightly in dark times.

As an analogy, this Lange Datograph is an impeccable silver fox by day, and disco demon at night.

Speaking of epic, the sapphire-crystal caseback presents the lavish and exquisitely constructed 454-part manually wound calibre L951.7.

While it’s not new – it’s actually 23 years old with a minor tweak for this edition – it is truly an impressive showcase of horological progress.

Stopwatch : A (short) history lesson on these famous chronographs

In order to truly appreciate the pedigree of these high-end chronographs, it is important to have a quick stroll through the Dresden watchmaker’s past. 200 years ago, the founder crafted his first chronograph with the early inkling of a flyback mechanism that allowed the chronograph hand to be started, stopped and reset to zero with just one push. What this meant for pilots and busy people – less fumbling fingers and more hands on the task at hand.

These chronographs found their way into 2 of the 5 series  – the Saxoni and 1815, the former relating to the brand’s hometown and the latter to the birth year of founder Ferdinand Adolph Lange.

Enter the Datograph about 2 decades past which featured the first proprietary calibre that was well-controlled, engineered to be accurate and utterly sophisticated. By now, the flyback feature catered for consecutive measurements of any event with just one push.

What about keeping time for longer moments? With the Double Split, events that lasted up to 30 minutes could be measured precisely. By the time this movement was introduced in 2004, A. Lange & Söhne had developed no less than 11 chronographs that many critics and collectors declared as breathtakingly ahead of its time and beautiful to behold.

The watchmaker continued to push global standards of crafting high-end precision timepieces by increasing power reserve to 60 hours and manufacturing its own proprietary hair spring in 2010.

Early this year in 2018, the Triple Split was introduced – the world’s first mechanical split-seconds speedreader with additional rattrapante hands on the minute and hour counters to allow time keeping and comparisons of even longer events such as Formula One or Tour de France – up to 12 hours to be exact.

Today, only a few thousand of these timepieces are made per year. A long-standing dedication and focus helped A. Lange & Söhne thrive through the years – rebuilding its business after World War II as well as developing more than 60 calibres and many proprietary movements to become one of the most valuable names in watchmaking.


Related links:

House of Lange

A. Lange & Söhne Promise of Quality Fine Watchmaking

A. Lange & Söhne: Triple Split Chronograph

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