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A. Lange & Soehne Grand Lange 1
The best is the enemy of the good
I sat in the presentation at Salon International de Haute Horology, SIHH, in January this year. I listened to the representative from A. Lange & Söhne open proceedings with a quote from Voltaire.
Voltaire famously said; “the best is the enemy of the good”. Voltaire was expressing the inherent danger when meddling with a good item in the pursuit of improvement and inadvertently producing something worse.
If you appraise the Grand Lange 1 it has always been a handsome timepiece.
The Grand Lange 1 offered a larger case diameter than the Lange 1, but whilst elegant in presentation, it was always aesthetically inferior to its smaller sister with her prettier face.
Both watches shared the same movement, the Calibre L901.0.
The architecture of the movement meant that on the Grand Lange 1 the subsidiary seconds corrupted the lines of the adjacent off-centre hours and minutes display. A small detail, but with A. Lange & Söhne the quest for perfection never ceases, hence a new Grand Lange 1 has been launched for 2012.
The Lange 1 was 38.5 mm in diameter whilst the larger Grand Lange 1 was formerly 41.9 mm. Now the new Grand Lange 1 is 40.9 mm.
The new proportions are perfectly judged and thanks to a new movement, the Calibre L095.1, the perfect lines of the Lange 1 are now transposed into the new larger model.
Lange make dials which impart neoteric elegance with teutonic style. This watch could only come from the home of German horological excellence, Glashütte.
At one o’ clock is the patented outsize date. It is gracefully depicted courtesy of two apertures, framed in gold, one for each numeral.
To the easterly side of the dial, following the contour of the case, is a power reserve indicator marked “Auf” and “Ab”, up and down.
At 5 o’clock the subsidiary seconds are exhibited with exemplary salience. The circumference of the subdial no longer overlapping the hour and minute display.
Along the southerly edge of the dial, text presented in capital letters, proudly asserts; “Gangreserve 72 stunden”; Power reserve 72 hours.
On the right hand side of the dial, positioned off-centre, is the hour and minute display. It sparingly uses Roman numerals and conveys the time with cultured conduct. Beneath this the appellation, “Made in Germany”, reinforces the provenance of this timepiece of peerless virtue.
At the top of the dial the company’s name is proudly displayed. This is a name revered by admirers of haute horology from around the globe. Mechanical mastery is seldom bettered.
The new case dimensions are perfectly judged. The new Grand Lange 1 sits on the wrist with tasteful dignity. Nothing is meretricious, ostentatious or overdone.
Available in a choice of three noble metals; yellow gold, pink gold and platinum.
Surfaces are highly polished with the exception of the vertical plane of the caseband, which is presented in a satin finish, providing differentiation to delight the wearer.
The crown is knurled to aid adjustment and neatly adorned with the company’s soubriquet.
At 10 o’clock a pusher provides rapid correction of the outsize date.
Turn over the watch and you are presented with a sapphire caseback. Lange does not deprive the owner of the beautiful vision that lurks within the case. The movement is championed for the delectation of its keeper.
Lange produce its own movements with fine finishing to rival the best.
The new Calibre L095.01 may be thinner, but does not eschew the finissage that the horological titans of Saxony are feted.
The manual wound movement is now only 4.7 mm in height. The three-quarter plate, synonymous with watches from this region, is embellished with Glashütte ribbing. The untreated German silver will acquire a patina with time, enhancing its beauty.
The balance cock continues Lange tradition, with scrolls and swirls, engraved by the artisan’s hand.
Seven gold chatons, faithful to Glashütte manufacturing, punctuate the plate with flourishes of red and blue.
The screwed balance, judiciously constructed, underscores the craftsmanship of this German marque.
A. Lange & Söhne chose to take a risk. They ignored Voltaire’s wisdom and pursued perfection.
It was a calculated risk for these accomplished purveyors of high-end horology.
The results are extraordinary. Lange have once again impressed with their adroit adeptness in enhancing an already pulchtrudinous form.
I am left wondering is this perfection? Could its finesse ever be surpassed?
I would conclude that new Grand Lange 1 is the delectable fruit of the relentless endeavours of the talented personnel at Lange & Söhne. Their sustained search for impeccability by employing skill and innovation would be more aptly surmised by the Voltaire quote; “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking”.
I can't imagine how this timepiece can be enhanced further. However, A. Lange & Söhne will no doubt prove otherwise in years to come.
- Model: A. Lange & Soehne Grand Lange 1
- Reference: 117.021 (yellow gold); 117.032 (pink gold); 117.025 (platinum)
- Case: 18-carat gold or platinum case; diameter 40.90 mm; height 8.80 mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and back.
- Functions: Hours; minuntes; subsidiary seconds; power reserve indicator; date.
- Movement: calibre L095.1; manual-winding; Frequency 21,600 vph; 42 jewels; Power reserve 72 hours.
- Strap: Hand stitched crocodile leather strap with 18-carat gold or platinum pin buckle dependent on model.