September 16, 2017
by Zen Love
Your average A. Lange & Söhne watch is already chock full of craftsmanship and anything but average. For those who require something even more “special,” however, the brand’s Handwerkskunst watches usually offer some additional artistic decoration for one of the brand’s existing models. The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst is one of those, and it is introduced today alongside four other watches; blue-dial versions of the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1, the Lange 1 Daymatic, Saxonia, and the Saxonia Automatic watches that they are calling the Blue Series – blue dials being all the rage for a couple years now.
Based on the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar released in 2013, the base model alone is a very high-end, complicated piece. It features a perpetual calendar, rattrapante chronograph, moon phase, and power reserve indicator. Rattrapante is also called “split seconds” and it means there are two chronograph seconds hands so that you can stop one and continue timing with the other. Add to that the perpetual calendar that will track information including date, month, day of the week, and leap year accurately (until 2100 when it will need to be corrected for one day), so long as it’s kept running, and you have the 631-part L101.1 movement to make it all somehow (magic?) work together elegantly.
With a reasonably compact 41.9mm-wide white gold case, the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst is about a millimeter thicker than the 2013 model at 15.8mm thanks to the addition of a caseback that opens up on hinges to reveal the movement view. Water-resistance is not disclosed, but let’s just say don’t take it whitewater rafting. Each of the four subdials does double duty, with the month and leap year at 3 o’clock, the moon phase and running seconds at 6 o’clock, the date and day of the week at 9 o’clock, and 30-minute chronograph counter and power reserve at 12 o’clock. The pusher at 10 o’clock on the case is for the rattrapante chronograph hand.
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst is only Handwerkskunst watch number six, but it seems a tradition has been established. The term means “artisanship” in German and the watches dubbed as such from A. Lange & Söhne have been known to give the brand’s typically conservative designs a splash of pizzazz with a range of traditional decoration techniques on the dial, case, and movement. See our hands-on with the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst here for another great example. Here, the dial and the hinged caseback cover use a combination of enamel and engraving, and the movement bridges are further engraved. The whole starry theme seems to be an aesthetic extension of the traditional moon phase display, as the brand points out.
The dial is a translucent blue enamel covering a white gold base with stars engraved in relief on it, and the main dial’s Arabic numerals are flush with the enamel – I’m not sure if they are also relief or applied separately. Above it all, the rattrapante seconds hand makes it colorful with gold-plated steel. Otherwise, the hands are all rhodiumed white gold except the chronograph minutes hand in the 12 o’clock subdial which is blued steel.
The hinged caseback continues both the relief white gold with blue enamel and the moon theme, with the Roman goddess Luna at the center depicted with traditional attributes such as her torch representing the moon’s light. As the engraving is all done by hand, it will differ slightly on each watch, and I particularly like the clouds and stars on the caseback – even if the facial expression of the goddess appears somewhat dissatisfied with it all.
The caseback, also apparently known as a cuvette, opens on hinges to a view (through sapphire crystal, of course) of the L.101.1 movement where stars are again rising in relief, this time from a deeply granular-textured background as on many vintage German pocket watch movements. The engravings are found on the bridges and balance cocks, and you can see much of the 631-part movement with its two column wheels (one for the main chronograph and one for the rattrapante) and a colorful array of jewels, blued screws, gold, and of course, German silver. Even apart from the engraved elements, the movement is extensively hand-finished, as all A. Lange & Söhne movements are.
Somewhat overshadowed by the epic Handwerkskunst but also perfectly lovely are the A. Lange & Söhne Blue Series watches released today, all also with white gold cases. These include A. Lange & Söhne’s flagship piece, the Lange 1 that has been the basis for a number of variations over the years, and this is its most classic form but with a blue dial. The Lange 1 Daymatic, also in blue here, has a similar dial layout to the Lange 1, only flipped with a day of the week replacing the the power reserve indicator – and adds automatic winding with the more complex L021.1 movement. Finally, the entry-level A. Lange & Söhne watch, the basic hand-wound Saxonia, and its automatic winding brother also join with blue dials.
The A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia might be simple and understated with only the time and small seconds in a 35mm case, but the manually wound 3Hz L941.1 movement with a 45-hour power reserve is finished to the same standard even as Lange’s most elaborate pieces. The movements in the high-end A. Lange & Söhne watches are more complicated and require more painstakingly finished parts than simpler and less expensive watches, but all movement parts are treated the same, the brand tells us. That will, of course, also be true of the A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Automatic that has a 38.5mm-wide case and the self-winding L086.1 movement with 72 hours of power reserve.
The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst will be limited to 20 pieces and have a price of €290,000 each, significantly more than the €199,900 of the 2013 non-Handwerkskunst model in gold. The blue-dial A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Daymatic will have a price of $43,200; the blue Lange 1 is $34,700; Saxonia Automatic is $25,800; and the Saxonia is $14,800. alange-soehne.com