In addition to having the longest name of any wristwatch I went hands-on with this year, the A. Lange & Sohne Lange I Tourbillion Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst might also be the single most impressive – if nothing else, it is simply jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Yes, my love for Lange is well documented, and I will continue to make no apologies for that. After my experience at the Napa Valley Akademie this past September, I gained a new appreciation for the exactitudes of German manufacture, the “no bullshit” spirit and authenticity of the brand, and the intricacy of the craftsmanship that goes into the minute details of each of their timepieces. When it comes to high-horology manufacture, A. Lange & Söhne has my rapt attention. And this piece, the second to bear the Handwerkskunst nomenclature, may just be their most astounding creation yet combining what Lange does best in the movement with German hand-applied decoration.
For starters, I’ll say right off that like its predecessor, the white Gold Zeitwork from 2012, this isn’t the kind of timepiece that will suit everyone’s palette. Aside from the technical aspects (which I’ll get to in a moment), this piece features an incredibly ornate dial design that will go unappreciated by many timepiece enthusiasts. And that’s OK. From a design standpoint, this is a serious departure from the traditionally stark design of Lange’s regular line, and wasn’t designed to resonate with everyone…just 15 lucky souls who crave something beyond “normal” luxury.
In fact, the base watch is rare enough as it is. All "Handwerkskunst" by A. Lange & Sohne take an already desirable watch from their collection and make it a more limited edition, the "hand-worked art." This one starts as a Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, and if that piece alone is enough for you there is absolutely no shame in that.
So, what this watch is not: Your run of the mill, boring Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar (ha!).
What it is: Nothing short of an opus showcase for what the watchmakers at Lange can create, and did.
Handwerkskunst translates quite simply to “Handcrafted,” and while every single Lange timepiece is literally built by hand, in this case it is taken to a whole new level, with ornate tremblage detailing and relief engraving carved into a solid white gold dial. Having tried my hand at engraving during the Akademie (my results fell somewhere between cave paintings and the crayon scribbles of my three year old goddaughter… and that’s being generous). I have the utmost respect for the level of mastery these artisans have. Pictures simply do not do this piece justice... it is astoundingly ornate and beautiful, yet remains tasteful (something hard to do, especially for men's goods). Many of the details are subtle, such as the blue hand-painted numerals on date wheel.
All of this masterful artistry is built atop the already supremely impressive Lange I Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar module (calibre L082.1), which features displays of time, day, month, leap year, and moon phase. All functions advance simultaneously, as the tourbillon movement features Lange’s proprietary stop seconds mechanism. Naturally, the entire piece is cased in platinum.
The price for the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskust (more details at Lange) is $357,700. But no, you can’t have one. Although deliveries do not begin until the late spring 2014, the limited run of 15 timepieces are already sold out. alange-soehne.com