One of the most simple and satisfyingly elegant new tourbillon watches for 2014, not surprisingly, comes from our German friends at A. Lange & Sohne. The 1815 Tourbillon immediately caught my eye when we learned about it at SIHH 2014 due to the large-diameter tourbillon and good, legible looks based on the popular 1815 collection. Being a Lange, it doesn’t stop there, and this tourbillon-based watch has a few extra tricks up its sleeve.
A. Lange & Sohne doesn’t make a lot of “just tourbillon” watches, if you think about it. They actually don’t produce that many tourbillons overall. When they do, the tourbillon is normally part of a larger collection of exotic complications. Here, however, we just have the time and tourbillon that doubles as a subsidiary seconds dial– and there is something really nice about that.
The 1815 collection is pretty easy to identify by Lange’s use of Arabic numeral hour markers on the dial and the distinctive blued-steel hands (that are very properly sized). 1815 collection models have seen a lot of variety over the last few years, each inherently simple and restrained. Even though a tourbillon, by definition, is hardly a restrained design feature, it is done in a very tasteful, yet visually interesting manner here.
If the tourbillon looks large that is because it is. It isn’t the largest tourbillon around, but it is over half the size of the dial. It may be the largest diameter tourbillon that A. Lange & Sohne currently produces and it is 13.2mm wide. You get a deep view into the movement, and you can actually see right through the other side of the case– though not in a way the promotes a deep appreciation of your arm hair.
Mechanically, the tourbillon in this 1815 model has two interesting features that have never before existed together in a tourbillon. Back when A. Lange & Sohne originally released the Cabaret Tourbillon in 2008, they introduced the first ever tourbillon with a hacking seconds (stop seconds) feature. That means that when you pull the crown out the tourbillon stops until you push the crown back in. The purpose of this feature in watches is to allow for a more precise setting of the time.
The 1815 Tourbillon includes the spot mechanism and combines it with a zero-reset complication. This not only stops the tourbillon when the crown is out but also resets the seconds hand to zero. This latter feature is a much rarer function (you can find it in a few Glashutte Original Senator watches actually) and when combined with a stop seconds function allows for optimal control when setting the time.