A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe

Oddball 1815: The A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

There are watch collaborations, and then there are special watch collaborations. This would be the latter. For decades, Wempe has positioned itself as the premium retailer of fine wristwatches throughout Europe (with an additional presence in New York City). Forget Tiffany & Co, that’s for diamonds and breakfast. 

A. Lange and Söhne has positioned itself as the preeminent watch manufacture from Germany. Since its resurgence from the ashes of the Cold War in the early 1990s, Lange has managed to fully restore itself (and then some) to a place where it is spoken in the same high regard as those rarified SwissAir brands.

Combining Lange with Wempe in an ultra-limited piece sounds like haute-horologie magic to me, and thus here we are taking a look at the A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe.

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

History

As early as the 1920s, Wempe and Lange were collaborating in terms of a retailer and manufacture partnership, respectively. Rather than be content in those terms, by the 1930s the two companies founded the Glashutte Observatory to further testing and certification of high-end timepieces. 

After World War II, Lange was absorbed into the Iron Curtain. High-end watchmaking in Glashutte was on hiatus in lieu of five-year economic plans and wall building. That wall eventually came down and the Lange descendants quickly got to work on the revival of Glashutte traditions. No sooner was Wempe invited to the party to re-invest as an authorized retail partner in 1994.

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

Lange decided to celebrate this long-standing relationship not long after (in watch-world time anyway) with 2003’s 1815 “Side-Step” Wempe Limited Edition. With no big-time watch media coverage on the Internet yet and Lange’s penchant for quiet pride, this 1815 slipped into the world relatively unknown by most. Also, not completely surprising due in part to the small numbers produced. Just fifty in platinum and seventy-five in stunning rose gold.

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

Design Details

The A. Lange and Söhne 1815 remains one of the watch-world’s all-time great dress pieces because it nails the essentials. At 38.5mm, the rose gold case sits nicely on the wrist, secured by a beautifully executed simple black leather strap. In typical Lange fashion, the watch is svelte and streamlined, yet retains a high-end heft that is recognizable immediately upon handling the watch.

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

The dial features well-proportioned Arabic numerals which afford the wearer quick and easy time checks, and a signature sub-seconds dial resides at six-o-clock for tasteful visual interest. Except, on this Wempe Limited Edition, the sub-seconds dial has wandered off! 

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe
×

Join 65,000+ other watch enthusiasts

See weekly new arrivals

Earning the “Side-Step” name means the sub-seconds dial hangs out rebelliously at four-o-clock now, as if it had stumbled upon some seductive speak-easy on the way home. Initially, my own embedded desire for symmetry abhors this wayward pit-stop, however upon closer inspection a few details help it make more sense. You see, in the garden variety 1815 the sub-seconds dial seems to “crush” the six-o-clock numeral marker, leaving only a small “U” visible. In the “Side-Step” the dial completely occupies the space at four-o-clock. For me, this contributes to a better integrated feel and leaves all the remaining numbers fully intact.

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

The “Side-Step” sub-seconds dial is also rendered in a beautiful silver with concentric texturing that simply allows the 1815 to pop some personality in a very playful manner. All other signature Lange touches remain. The minute track is clear and easy to read. There are the beautiful Lange hands, with the minute hand stretching to the outer reaches of the dial. On the rose gold model, the black dial has that infinite depth to it that only a manufacture like A. Lange and Söhne can achieve.

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

Inner Workings

If there was ever a case to be made for installing the strap reversed and wearing the watch upside down this could be it. The standard 1815 houses a perfectly beautiful movement, however the “Side-Step” for Wempe takes things to a whole new level. Typically, a manufacture/retailer collaboration would be complete by embossing the retailer’s name on the dial or case back somewhere. This is achieved here with the Wempe logo embedded into the rose gold case on the rear. 

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

Since this is Lange, and a very limited Lange at that, the watch features an absolutely stunning decorated movement. The L944.1 is one of the most special silver plates your eyes will ever feast from. It has the normal Lange high-end hallmarks and exquisite finishing of course, however next-level achievement resides in the elaborate floral engraving that weaves and wraps itself around the jewels, chatons, blued screws and other mechanicals of the movement.

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

Your eye can’t help but follow the roses as they hypnotize and mesmerize anyone who is lucky enough to behold them in person. Your mind thinks about who the incredibly talented artisan was who sat there painstakingly getting each and every detail right. In addition to that intoxicating tapestry, this movement will give you forty-five hours of pure horological bliss with each full wind.

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

Versus the Competition

It is difficult to say what, exactly, competes for the space that the Lange “Side-Step” for Wempe resides in. Of course, you can find beautifully finished pieces from Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, however I’m remiss to think of any that would pass the Lange on the way to the museum of movement finishing.

From a strictly dress watch standpoint, the Lange will have a few people (in-the-know) at cocktail parties grabbing your wrist once they notice the wayward sub-seconds dial. If you like and trust them well enough to take the watch off and turn it over, everyone will be fast-friends by the end of the night. That said, it may likely make some Calatrava or Patrimony owners slightly jealous.

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

Personality

This is really one for the hard-core Lange fan who loves all the details since there are just so many to dive into. The “Side-Step” would also give the owner instant credibility at any number of Wempe’s boutiques and dare I say it, maybe even front-of-the-line status for other special pieces. Can you imagine the employee’s surprise at the counter when you reveal the signed case back? Their reaction would likely be truly special.

A. Lange and Söhne 1815 "Side Step" 222.048 Wempe
A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

Final Thoughts

The A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe is one of those rare finds that continues to impress even going on twenty years. Both brands continue to flourish and create. Lange with ever-impressive timepieces and Wempe with ever-impressive retail experience. The watch world is better for both and the “Side-Step” is the perfect celebration of that better world.

See More of the A. Lange and Söhne 1815 “Side Step” 222.048 Wempe

Visit Europeanwatch.com