October 19, 2013
by James Lamdin
Having reviewed and gushed over an A. Lange & Sohne timepiece this past spring (the Saxonia Annual Calendar in platinum), I jumped at the chance to join the brand in Napa Valley when I received an invite to their Akademie program in early September. Knowing that Ariel had attended the Akademie a few years back, I was interested in experiencing the immersive program for myself. Primarily, I wanted to determine whether the Saxonia was a one-off success, or whether there was more for me to appreciate about the storied German brand than a single timepiece.
In order to properly set the scene for this experience, I must share a few notes about my personal point of view on watches, and how I came to appreciate high-end timepieces. I am a firm believer that there is a watch for every wrist and that love for timepieces is a universal language that we can all share, regardless of our own aesthetic/mechanical preferences. While timepieces from Lange (and German made watches in general) are no doubt polarizing subjects, here is why they have so effectively won me over.
My journey towards full appreciation of haute horology began innocently enough. The first watch I cared about was a Casio calculator in elementary school. I found it cool at that time, not only because it suited my daydreams of being a crewmember on the Enterprise, but also because it gave me the means to cheat in math class. Then came the Timex Expeditions that got me through my middle and high school years (read: when I was still an athlete, and not a beer-gutted journo sitting in my home office, day-in and day-out). My college obsession was the Luminox Navy SEALs diver, which was gifted to me upon graduation. And then, all of a sudden, I started caring about mechanical timepieces.
I credit this evolution of values to my grandfather who, upon his passing, unknowingly bequeathed to me an appreciation of fine things. As I studied my grandfather’s life through his collections of music, art, books, clothing and timepieces, I became truly enamored with vintage watches, due to their lasting quality, heritage, and story. Mass-produced, soulless objects were no longer of significant interest to me, and my quartz Luminox was stuffed away in a drawer, never to be worn again. Essentially, if it was available new, or off the shelf, chances were I didn’t want it any more. I lusted after artifacts that connected me to the era of quality and craftsmanship in which my grandfather had lived his life, and that I feel has long since passed.