A. Lange & Söhne: In Perpetuity

by Nicolette Wong

Revered German luxury watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne celebrates the 20th birthday of its enigmatic Langematik Perpetual.

Complications are an inherent part of the world of luxury watchmaking — the likes of chronographs, moonphases, and tourbillons abound in horology, each one expressing a different dimension of timekeeping. But even among complications, there are some that are more complex and difficult to construct than others. The perpetual calendar, for instance, is famous for being one of the more mechanically challenging to create. But when a brand can create something that complex with finesse, you know that it is something worth paying attention to. That is why A. Lange & Söhne’s Langematik Perpetual remains a beloved mainstay among watch collectors who understand the beauty and complexity of high-end watchmaking. This year, the brand celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Langematik Perpetual with a special limited-edition version of the timepiece.

The Langematik Perpetual is in many ways the perfect representation of A. Lange & Söhne’s understated and harmonious watchmaking philosophy. Despite its mechanical complexity — it was the first mechanical wristwatch to combine a perpetual calendar with the Lange outsize date, zero-reset mechanism, and a main corrector to simultaneously advance all calendar displays — the watch remains aesthetically sophisticated. This philosophy is credited in large part to its co-founder and the manufacture’s first CEO, the legendary watchmaker Günter Blümlein, who helped revive the brand in 1994 after its initial dissolution. “Innovation and differentiating design elements are key parameters for us,” Blümlein once said in an interview. “Our watches must be classic and understated in looks, sleek, useful, and essentially German in nature.” The Langematik Perpetual was perhaps one of the last timepieces Blümlein ever created — he passed away in 2001 just a scant few months after its release. 

Now, 20 years on, the watch remains as timeless and beautiful as ever. Available in white or pink gold, this version of the Langematik Perpetual is paired with a handsome blue dial crafted from solid silver.

The applied Roman numerals, formed from the same case materials, are underlaid with an embossed grooving that allows the numerals to stand out even more against the deep blue of the dial for maximum legibility. Legibility is paramount at A. Lange & Söhne, which is why the layout of the dial has also been constructed using the principle of information hierarchy to enable to viewer to easily understand the different indications. As the most important indication (aside from the current time), the Lange outsize date is prominently positioned at 12 o’clock, with the subdial at 9 o’clock showing the day of the week and the subdial at 3 o’clock displaying the month of the year, with an additional indication for the leap year cycle. Because the perpetual calendar accounts for time in a four-year cycle including leap years, the watch will not have to be manually adjusted until the year 2100 — assuming that it is kept running, that is. A poetic moonphase rounds out the indications at 6 o’clock; as another long-term indication, it will only need to be corrected by a day every 122.6 years.

As you may already have surmised, precision in timekeeping is most definitely an obsession for A. Lange & Söhne, which is why it used the revered L922.1 Sax-O-Mat as the base calibre for the Langematik Perpetual. Meticulously constructed from 478 richly decorated parts, including the brand’s characteristic German silver three-quarter baseplate and a platinum rotor, the Sax-O-Mat is both complicated and beautiful to behold. The automatic movement most significantly features a zero-reset mechanism specially developed by Lange. When the crown is pulled out, the balance wheel stops, and the seconds hand automatically jumps to 12 o’clock. This allows for simpler and more precise setting of the time. After all, for a brand obsessed with timekeeping accuracy, it would not do to have a watch run 30 seconds faster or slower because the time had been set less precisely. An additional perpetual calendar module was added on top to complete the complicated ensemble.

When all is said and done, the Langematik Perpetual is an undoubtedly beautiful timepiece – one that melds mechanical mastery with harmonious and understated aesthetics. Plus, since it is limited to just 50 pieces each in white and pink gold, we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s already solidly off the market.

Images courtesy of A. Lange & Söhne, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.

Related Links:

A. Lange & Söhne: The Pinnacle of Handcraftsmanship

Simple Complexity: The Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar

A. Lange & Söhne: Starry Starry Night

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