Illuminating an A. Lange & Söhne Classic

by Jamie Tan

A signature timepiece returns in a new guise that glows in the dark.

Given the work that goes into each timepiece from A. Lange & Söhne, it’s understandable that the brand’s production numbers are fairly low compared to its contemporaries. This has not stopped the manufactory from exploring unique interpretations of its timepieces though. Two such collections come to mind. The first is the Handwerkskunst line that sees A. Lange & Söhne spotlighting various decorative crafts such as hand-engraving and enamelling. The other is the Lumen series, which has just been expanded with the introduction of the Zeitwerk Honeygold “Lumen” timepiece.

Mechanical Digital

The Zeitwerk Honeygold “Lumen” combines three watchmaking signatures that are unique to A. Lange & Söhne. The three eponymous features begins with the Zeitwerk model, which was first introduced in 2009 as a ground-breaking development that displayed the time digitally – but using a completely mechanical movement. To accomplish this, the brand developed a movement that used three jumping discs to indicate the time on the dial, which is read left to right just like a digital watch.

As the latest iteration of the model, the Zeitwerk Honeygold “Lumen” is powered by the updated Calibre L043.9. It features several upgrades, such as a longer 72-hour power reserve that’s double its predecessor’s, as well as a corrector at four o’clock that allows the hour to be set quickly and conveniently. Meanwhile, other technical features such as the constant force mechanism have been preserved. The new timepiece thus looks and wears just like the rest of the Zeitwerk family.

Gold Standard

Honeygold is the second eponymous feature of the new watch, and this too is an A. Lange & Söhne exclusive. The proprietary material is a gold alloy with the industry standard fineness of 18K, but its composition and production process has been tweaked in various ways, including the usage of a special thermal treatment. The result is its characteristic hue, which is somewhat less saturated than yellow or pink gold, yet also warmer in hue than either. What’s more, honeygold is also harder than regular 18K gold alloys, which translates into more robust and scratchproof watch cases.

A Signature Glow

The most special aspect of the Zeitwerk Honeygold “Lumen” is arguably its “Lumen” treatment, which has only made its way to four other timepieces so far – but more on this later. The basic principle behind creating a glow-in-the-dark timepiece remains unchanged here, of course, in that luminescent material is used for markings that to allow them to be read in the dark.

Where the Lumen line differs is the additional work that goes into creating the glow. In each Lumen timepiece, a translucent dial is used in lieu of a normal opaque one, and there’s more to it than meets the eye – quite literally. A special coating on the dial creates a smoked effect by blocking visible light, which prevents the wearer from looking into the watch. This creates greater contrast that contributes to legibility. The coating, however, is permeable to ultraviolet light, which penetrates the dial to “charge” the luminescent markings even when they are not exposed. In the context of the Zeitwerk Honeygold “Lumen”, the rest of the numerals on the three discs will thus be able to glow in the dark even if they hadn’t been exposed directly to light.

A Collector’s Dream

The Zeitwerk Honeygold “Lumen” is actually the second Zeitwerk timepiece to receive the “Lumen” treatment, following the Zeitwerk “Luminous” released in 2010. The latter was, in fact, the first watch in the “Lumen” line despite not having the moniker in its name, and it remains a hot favourite at auctions that routinely fetches well above its original retail price.

For aficionados who appreciate the technical advancements that the Zeitwerk line has had in the past few years with its upgraded calibre, the Zeitwerk Honeygold “Lumen” is undoubtedly the one to go for instead. This model will, however, only be available as a 200-piece limited edition.

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

Related Links:

Günter Blümlein: Horological Hero

The A. Lange & Söhne Promise of Quality Fine Watchmaking

A.Lange & Söhne: The Connoisseurs Connection

House of Lange

A. Lange & Söhne: 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange”

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