A. Lange & Söhne launches an astronomical complication, the Lange 1 Moon Phase.

Last Dec 7, A. Lange & Söhne gathered a small group of journalists from around the world at its manufacture in Glashütte (30km from Dresden, Germany) to witness the unveiling of its Lange 1 Moon Phase, ahead of the 27th instalment of the Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie in Geneva (Jan 16 to 20).

For a brand established in 1845, one would expect a sitdown formal press conference. Instead, A. Lange & Söhne chose an informal stand-up presentation. A short film featuring the new watch in all its animated glory was screened at the gathering.

On hand to introduce the timepiece was Anthony de Haas, director of product develop ment for A. Lange & Söhne. He kept it light and fun: As soon as the film ended, he asked those present what had changed. A member of the media yelled: “Where are the stars?” In mock horror, de Haas said, “What have we done?” before adding, “We integrated a small feature which helps for ease of adjustments. It’s a dayand- night indication integrated in the moon phase.” In short, the watchmakers have adopted a more realistic approach in its latest creation by com bining the moon-phase display with a day/ night indicator.

The Lange 1 Moon Phase, an updated version of the brand’s 2002 offering, has the tagline: A moon for days and nights. It is available in case/dial combinations of white gold/black; pink gold/argenté and platinum/ rhodié. The moon, represented by a solid gold disc that sits in the foreground, has a celestial gold disc located behind it that performs one revolution every 24 hours.

To give it an even more realis tic look, the different times of the day are depicted against a clear blue sky during the day, while night time is filled with laser-cut stars. Thus, the moon always appears to orbit against a background that doubles as a day/night indicator.

The Lange 1 Moon Phase houses the Lange 1 movement that debuted two years ago. It includes the characteristic twin mainspring barrel with a maximum power reserve of 72 hours and the jumping outsize date display. The timepiece also features an escapement with a shock- resistant cam-poised balance and a free-sprung Lange hairspring — all manufactured inhouse.

The 70 parts for the moonphase display are integrated in the L121.3 manufacture calibre that it is only slightly larger than the calibre L121.1 inside the Lange 1. The asymmetric solid-silver dial serves as a stage for the luminous time and power-reserve indications complemented with an outsize date, the moon-phase display, and the day/night indicator. In all, the timepiece has 438 movement parts.

The launch of the Lange 1 Moon Phase and the brand’s previous launches have all stayed true to what founder Ferdinand Adolph Lange once said: “The entire pursuit of a watchmaker should be the perfection of each and every watch.”

Almost 200 years later, 93-year-old Walter Lange, a fourth- generation Lange, has added his own wise words in his memoir, Revival of Time: “There’s something one should expect not only of a watch, but also of oneself: To never stand still.”

This the brand has done successfully with its entry into social media. Dec 7 also marked a milestone in the brand’s long history — the launch of its Instagram account (#alangesoehne), set up in response to requests from fans who want updates on what is new and news in the world of A. Lange & Söhne.

A quick look at the Instagram account and we see that it is clearly a platform for collectors to talk about the aesthetic aspects of their favourite products: Being able to see a specific watch in different locations, from diverse perspectives and in varying lighting conditions really brings it to life for all fans.

“This is why we are using Instagram for our digital communications,” says A. Lange & Söhne CEO Wilhelm Schmid. In the future, the Instagram will highlight some of the work done in the manufacture. Fans can also look forward to nuggets of in formation posted on its feed, such as: “The average length of a calendar year is 365.2425 days.”

Besides its Instagram account, A. Lange & Söhne can be reached via Facebook, YouTube, WeChat and Weibo


Striving for perfection
On the day of the pre-Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) presentation on Dec 7, A. Lange & Söhne announced the winner of its F.A. Lange Watchmaking Excellence Award 2016. Tanguy Huret from France walked away with €10,000 ($15,200) in prize money.

This year’s challenge was to construct and build a full calendar timepiece. Eight young watchmakers from France, Sweden, Finland, the US, Japan and Germany took part in the competition. They spent a week at A. Lange & Söhne in Glashütte, Germany, last May to prepare for the final submission in November.

The judging panel comprised Walter Lange, the great-grandson of company brand founder F A Lange; product development director Anthony de Haas, journalists and watch experts Gisbert L Brunner and Peter Bran, and Dr Peter Plaßmeyer, director of the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments in Dresden.

They were impressed by Huret’s entry, which fulfilled all four criteria of the competition equally: originality, technical functionality, quality of craftsmanship and aesthetic implementation. The judges said his was the best work that had ever been submitted in the history of the awards.

Huret, 25, designed a full calendar as an annual calendar which correctly incorporates the lengths of all the different months. He also submitted a technically sophisticated solution with three overlapping dials, creating a unique aesthetic effect.

He is currently completing his training at the Lycée Polyvalent Edgar Faure in Morteau, France.

This article appeared in the Options  of Issue 762 (Jan 16) of The Edge Singapore.