A. Lange & Söhne: Splitting Time

by Jamie Tan

A new split-seconds chronograph joins A. Lange & Söhne’s 1815 collection.

A. Lange & Söhne’s new 1815 Rattrapante is a timepiece solely focused on its eponymous split-seconds chronograph. The watch has been executed in a classic style that will be familiar to connoisseurs who are familiar with the complication, but also comes with just enough tweaks to keep things visually interesting.

Top Echelon

Chronographs come in different levels of complexities. In its most basic form, a chronograph simply measures elapsed time, with two pushers for control – one to start and stop its function, and the other to reset the hands when it’s stopped. There are a few variations on this theme. The flyback chronograph can be reset while it’s running, thus removing any delay caused by the stop-reset-restart sequence. The monopusher chronograph, on the other hand, forgoes the ability to pause and resume timings in favour of using a single pusher that starts, stops, and resets the chronograph sequentially.

Pausing the rattrapante hand allows a lap time to be read. Starting it again sends it flying forward to the chronograph seconds hand.

The rattrapante chronograph – also called the split-seconds chronograph – is significantly more complex than the above variants, as it is capable of measuring individual lap times. Its most classic form can be seen in the 1815 Rattrapante; note the additional pusher at 10 o’clock, and the extra rattrapante hand (in blue) that sits coaxial with the “regular” chronograph seconds hand.

When the chronograph is started, the rattrapante hand moves in tandem with the chronograph seconds hand. It can, however, be paused independently using the pusher at 10 o’clock. This “freezes” the elapsed time for a reading to be properly taken at, for instance, the end of a single lap. Actuating the same pusher again then snaps the rattrapante hand back to the chronograph seconds hand, for the two to continue running in sync. This operation can be performed as many times as needed, depending on the number of laps – all while the total elapsed time continues to be measured.

Reworking A Classic

Vertically aligned sub-dials shift the watch’s visual centre of gravity

Despite bearing the traditional form of the rattrapante chronograph, the 1815 Rattrapante’s eponymous complication has been subtly modified by A. Lange & Söhne for greater visual appeal. Note the arrangements of the sub-dials, for a start. In lieu of having the counters at three and nine o’clock, the 1815 Rattrapante’s counters have been situated at six and 12 o’clock instead. While both setups offer visual symmetry, placing the sub-dials on the vertical axis gives an alternative aesthetic to the familiar layout which, in turn, creates a touch of novelty.

A transparent case back affords a full view of the movement

Doing so isn’t as straightforward as just moving components around though, as gear trains cannot simply be relocated without reworking a movement’s architecture. Instead, the 1815 Rattrapante’s dial design was made possible only because A. Lange & Söhne developed a custom chronograph movement for it. This extends elsewhere – the complications components have also been shifted to its front side (i.e. the side facing the case back), so their complex dance during operation can be admired fully.

Anchoring Touches

While A. Lange & Söhne has tweaked the 1815 Rattrapante’s movement for aesthetics, the manufactory has retained the 1815 collection’s hallmarks in this timepiece. These details include the Arabic numeral indices and railway track chapter ring, which have long alluded to the brand’s pocket watches of yore. The opaline dial and blued steel hands are quintessential features too, and work together here to create excellent legibility. The finishing touch on the dial is the tachymeter, which has been printed on the flange for instant conversions of events’ rates.

The 1815 Rattrapante has been cased in platinum and fitted with a black leather strap for stately elegance. The overall effect here is one of a classic timepiece bearing a few contemporary touches that subtly showcases its manufactory’s technical expertise and flair for design. This reference will be produced in a limited run of only 200 pieces.

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

Related Links:

A. Lange & Söhne: Zeitwerk Powers Up

A. Lange & Söhne: The Mechanical Masters

A. Lange & Söhne: The Odysseus Continues

Grand Lange 1: In Pursuit of Refinement

A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Minute Repeater: Perfect Chiming

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