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In a Contemporary Age, A. Lange & Söhne’s Commitment to the Art of Fine Watchmaking

By Lynette Kee

Behind every A. Lange & Söhne watch is a dedicated craftsman attending to every minute details.
 
A. Lange & Söhne
Behind every A. Lange & Söhne watch is a dedicated craftsman attending to every minute details.

There is something quite enigmatic about the art of fine watchmaking. And thanks to social media, watchmaking has gone from the silent driving force of our daily time telling to a spectator subject given the attention it duly deserves. 

On YouTube, watchmaking demonstration videos have garnered up to 5.3 million views (at time of press) while Buzzfeed’s video comparing the inner workings between a cheap and an expensive watch has been viewed more than 3.5 million times. The whopping number of posts on Instagram (just over 27,000 at time of press) with the hashtag #watchmovement further suggests the growing appetite among watch enthusiasts about movement constructing. 

In conversations about watchmaking, a Swiss-made watch represents the pinnacle of the industry. But according to Forbes, Germans have been making watches since the 15th century, which predates that in Switzerland — and A. Lange & Söhne is the quintessential German watch name. As one of the most beloved brands among watch connoisseurs today, the German watchmaker has accumulated over 15,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel and 330,000 followers on its Instagram account in less than three decades since its re-founding in 1990 — not a far cry from its rival high horology watch brands with far longer histories. However, despite the exposure of watch content on these platforms, the concept of watches and the movements they house are considerably highly nuanced topics that can be tough to comprehend through a 15-minute video or an Instagram caption. 

A. Lange & SöhneThe German house celebrates its 25th anniversary of the Lange 1 with the anniversary edition limited to 250 pieces.
The German house celebrates its 25th anniversary of the Lange 1 with the anniversary edition limited to 250 pieces.

For A. Lange & Söhne and a few other watch brands, a hands-on watchmaking workshop is one way to connect with watch lovers on a deeper level. 

Nestled within COMO Point Yamu in Phuket, A. Lange & Söhne hosted its Connoisseur’s Akademie. In the workshop space, rows after rows of neatly arranged equipment for the watchmaking class stood silently, and on each of the tables set up for the participants, sat an overhead table lamp, a box with the individual movement parts and several delicate tools. I was about to experience, first-hand, the painstaking process of assembling a movement. 

A. Lange & SöhneThe German watchmaker transformed one of the rooms at luxury resort COMO Point Yamu into a watchmaking studio with panoramic views across the bay.
The German watchmaker transformed one of the rooms at luxury resort COMO Point Yamu into a watchmaking studio with panoramic views across the bay.

Lifting the lid of the box, I found 18 to 20 minuscule watch parts, each in its own compartment. Eschewing from the typical Swiss features, a regular A. Lange & Söhne’s movement displays a design that nods to its home at Glashütte, the most distinctive feature being the type of metal used — which is German silver instead of brass, which is used in Swiss movements. Each hand gesture that came into contact with the parts was precise — delicately holding each piece to prevent tainting the material. 

We had spent almost two hours assembling the parts, accounting for every little detail — the placement, the balance of each part and in the right direction before lightly (but firmly) screwing it down — all at a breath-stopping minuscule scale. The type of movement we were learning to assemble, albeit challenging to an amateur like myself, is a walk in the park, so to speak, when compared to any other Lange movement with an average of over 200 parts. Yet, the tactile experience was just enough for me to realise the value of a fine watch. After all, at A. Lange & Söhne, every movement is finished by hand. 

A. Lange & SöhneMost of the microscopic movement parts assembled on a secured mainplate in the flesh.
Most of the microscopic movement parts assembled on a secured mainplate in the flesh.

For almost three decades, A. Lange & Söhne has dedicated its time and effort into developing and producing watches. The highly reiterated motto of Walter Lange “Never Stand Still” is meant to keep the house on a steady pace as it focuses on watchmaking and little else. While other brands divide their attention between watchmaking and marketing strategies, A. Lange & Söhne’s claim to fame does not require celebrity endorsements of any sort, as demonstrated on its Instagram account, which showcases only its watches. 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the iconic Lange 1, one of the success stories that helped to re-establish the brand, and also a prime example of Lange watchmaking artistry, while another relatively new icon, the Zeitwerk introduced in 2009, stands as a technical marvel of the house. The story of A. Lange & Söhne is told through consistency and its regard for high horology. There are no shortcuts to fine watchmaking and from the repertoire of Lange creations, the success of the German watchmaker is certainly not by accident.