In an industry plagued by extravagant products which frequently border on the satirical, A. Lange & Söhne can always be relied upon to (quietly) deliver. There was no shortage of impressive “functionality first” horology at their SIHH presentation: Though the Glashütte watchmaker wasn’t above flexing its muscles with a booth sized model of its current pièce de résistance — the Triple Split Chronograph. Reportedly assembled in accordance with the same exacting standards required of actual Lange movements, that model — despite essentially being window dressing — spells out in no uncertain terms which 2018 release Lange is most excited about. To be sure, the new additions to the 1815 and Saxonia collections remain eminently desirable, but make no mistake — the Triple Split is the Lange release that’s going to have everybody and their dog talking.
The Triple Split is descended from another consummate Lange model — the 2004 Double Split. Like the latter, this new chronograph averages 43mm in diameter whilst being only negligibly thicker (15.6mm). Unlike its split seconds predecessor however, the Triple Split allows wearers to record and compare time in three registers (i.e. seconds, minutes and hours) — a feature never before offered by any other mechanical watchmaker. Such complex timekeeping necessitates an extremely sophisticated movement; and Lange’s secret weapon gets just that in the form of a new in-house calibre.
Words are almost unequal to the task of describing the sheer beauty of this (characteristically precise) feat of German engineering. The calibre is made up of over 500 individual components, including plates and bridges of maillechort silver and a balance cock that has been finished with hand engraving. Whereas less disciplined watchmakers might overegg the various mechanisms (e.g. balance wheels and plates), the designers at Lange have demonstrated their trademark stoicism, crafting a movement with impressive depth and texture (despite its inescapable air of complexity). In line with house tradition, Lange is offering the Triple Split in white gold with production limited to 100 units. It’s a serious collector’s item with innately strong technical appeal for a niche audience.
For long-time devotees of the brand, Lange’s other big SIHH release was the Homage to Walter Lange. (Auction hawks might recall that a rare steel exemplar of this watch — Lange very rarely manufactures stainless-steel watches period — ended up fetching US$852,525 in May.) Notwithstanding the fact that it celebrates Walter Lange’s legacy (he was a direct descendant of the company’s founder, accomplished watchmaker, and largely responsible for reviving the manufacture after 40 years of state suppression) the Homage also incorporates an unusual complication favoured by the titular watchmaker. We are of course referring to the “deadbeat” seconds.
Originally patented in the late 19th century by Walter’s great-grandfather Ferdinand, this system utilises what is commonly referred to as the “flirt and star” principle, converting power generated by the Homage’s (aptly named) L1924 calibre into precise one-second increments. On the dial side, this enables the central seconds hand to utilise a jumping action, which can be set and stopped (independent of the Homage’s hour and minute hands) via a chronograph-style pusher at the 2 o’clock position. The average person might mistake the action that results from the flirt and star principle for quartz ticking seconds but the level of technical sophistication required to achieve it makes this one of Lange’s most complicated SIHH releases — certainly its most romantic.
The Triple Split is available is available in a limited white gold run (100 pieces) for US$147,000.
The 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” is available in yellow (27 units), white (145 units), and pink (90 units) gold. All versions are priced at approximately US$54,335.
For more information, visit A.Lange & Söhne.