Back in 2015, A. Lange & Söhne introduced the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater as the world’s first mechanical wristwatch that combines a jumping numerals display with a decimal minute repeater. The Zeitwerk was already a beloved collection in the brand’s lineup thanks in large part to its easy-to-read digital display, and when it was paired with a decimal repeater (more on that shortly), the model immediately gained appreciation and recognition. That first iteration included a platinum case with a rhodium dial, and a white gold and blue dial version was unveiled in 2020. Now, for 2023, the brand new A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater Honeygold watch with a gray dial joins the collection.
One of the first things that’ll grab your attention with any Zeitwerk watch is the pair of oversized windows — jump hours on the left and jump minutes on the right (with two disks separating the tens and ones) — nestled into the t-shaped time bridge. These apertures on the gray 925 silver dial are accompanied by the running seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and the power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. There are also the two gong hammers prominently displayed below the pair of windows to admire when activated.
Those familiar with Lange will recognize that Honeygold is the company’s patented gold alloy that is harder than other golds, and its warm hue sits somewhere between pink and yellow gold. Lange is selective about where it uses Honeygold, which means those made from this proprietary precious metal are immediately coveted. The Honeygold case of the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater measures 44.2mm in diameter and 14.1mm thick, which is on the larger end of the spectrum, but the watch does have to house plenty of mechanics to give us its magic. Looks and durability aside, Honeygold also lends a unique sound when the repeater is activated.
As Anthony de Haas, Director of Product Development at A. Lange & Söhne, explains, “Every minute repeater has its own, one-of-a-kind sound. Apart from the gongs and gong hammers, the case material has the greatest impact on the sound. Similar to a musical instrument, different tone colors and sound impressions are created, depending on the material used. That is also the case with our novelty in honey gold. It sounds different to all other materials — truly distinctive.” According to the company, Honeygold “produces a clear, reverberant sound, paired with a rich and warm timbre.”
Rather than the traditional quarter-hour chiming of a minute repeater, this Zeitwerk is a decimal minute repeater — it chimes ten-minute intervals, which I’m sure you’ll agree is much more logical. When the minute repeater complication is deployed, the watch sounds out a low-pitched tone for the elapsed hour, a double tone (high- and low-pitched) for the elapsed ten-minute period, and a high-pitched tone for the elapsed minutes. For instance, if the time is 7:52, the Zeiwerk Minute Repeater will chime seven low-pitched tones, five double tones, and two high-pitched tones. Therefore, if you’re looking at and listening to the watch, the digital display and sounds mirror each other.
Another significant difference between the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater and traditional ones is how the complication is activated. Minute repeaters typically require the wearer to pull on a lever to windup the repeater’s mainspring; conversely, the Zeitwerk includes a pusher at 10’clock instead because its repeater gets its energy from the twin mainspring barrel. As such, the repeater can’t be used if the watch has less than 12 hours of power reserve in its tank. There’s a red dot on the power reserve indicator on the dial to remind you of that. It takes around 20 seconds for the watch to finish its song at 12:59 (the longest possible sequence). If a new minute and/or hour starts during the chiming, the numerals in the windows will wait until the striking is complete before jumping to the next one.
Powering the mechanically impressive Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is the hand-wound Caliber L043.5, which like all Lange movements, is simply stunning to look at through the sapphire caseback. As is customary for Zeitwerk watches, this one includes a constant-force escapement between the barrel and the balance to provide a consistent flow of energy that not only contributes to rate stability but also produces the switching impulses to push the jumping numerals forward. Comprising 771 parts, Caliber L043.5 operates at a frequency of 18,000 vph and includes 36 hours of power reserve (if the striking mechanism isn’t used).
Encased in sweet Honeygold, offering a digital display, and boasting an innovative take on the chiming complication, the new Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is an exemplary illustration of A. Lange & Söhne’s distinctive aesthetic and mechanical mastery. The watch is limited to only 30 examples and even though the brand has declined to make a public retail price available, it’s likely to sell out quickly. As a point of reference, the white gold version had a retail price of €449,000 when it was released in 2020. For more information about the new A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater Honeygold (ref. 147.050F), please visit the brand’s website.