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A Watchmakers Watch: The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage To Walter Lange”

The A.Lange & Söhne 1815 watch line was originally conceived as a tribute to the brand’s founder F.A. Lange. In fact, it’s named after his birth year. This makes the 1815 the perfect watch to tribute Walter Lange, who revived the brand in 1990 and put German watchmaking on the map. This white gold A. Lange & Söhne 1815 “Homage To Walter Lange” was introduced in 2017 as part of a small collection of very limited edition pieces. As far as tribute pieces go, I don’t think I’ve seen one this well thought out. This 1815 has a lot more to it than meets the eye, and is truly a wrist-mounted A. Lange Söhne history lesson.

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This white gold example is 1 of 145, which is the same number of years that separate the original founding in 1845 to the revival founding that Walter Lange was responsible for in 1990. The manual winding caliber L1924—named after Walter Lange’s birth year 1924—is new for this watch and has an all but forgotten independent jumping seconds complication which A. Lange & Söhne was granted a patent for in 1877—more on that in a second.

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The manual winding movement has a 60-hour power reserve and has a unique architecture because of its rarely seen complication. Viewable through the see-through caseback, the high level of hand-finishing combined with the sheer depth of the movement draws you in visually. This is precisely the type of movement to show someone who’s not familiar with mechanical watches as a ploy to get them into the hobby. It’s absolutely beautiful.

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As for this jumping seconds complication—often referred to as a deadbeat seconds complication—this is a complication that’s not used much anymore, but as stated earlier, it has a personal connection to Lange as they were granted a patent for it. The complication is an ancestor to the chronograph, and since the chronograph has become virtually obsolete.  The way it works is this watch has two independent seconds hands, a sweeping one in the subdial at six o’clock, and a jumping one at the center.

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The center hand is called a jumping hand because it jumps from second to second like a quartz watch. When you activate the pusher located above the crown, it starts and stops the jumping seconds hand—there is no reset, just start and stop—allowing you to time short intervals. It’s marginally useful, and I love the historical connection to watchmaking and Lange but can see why this complication fell out of favor when the chronograph came out.

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Like the movement, the white gold case appears very simple at a glance but, upon closer inspection, is found to be more intricate. Measuring at 40.5mm in diameter and 10.7mm thick, the round case with its rounded bezel has a very classic appearance from the top view. The case flanks display more complexity with alternating brushed and polished finishing and a very fine stepped structure. The beveled lugs stand out from the case and are sharp and prominent; it’s a trademark Lange look that I’ve always really liked. The pusher is a simple rounded rectangle just above the crown and could almost be overlooked. Overall the design is clean but not simple. 

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The silver dial harmonizes well with the white gold case and optimizes legibility. The traditional styling of the numerals is perfect, considering the man this watch is honoring. My only gripe with them is the six; it might as well not be there. The blued steel hands are a nice pop of color and are always a welcomed touch. Little details like the railroad tracks and dots located outside the hour markers on the dial add a lot of visual interest without adding clutter, and that really is the theme of this whole timepiece. 

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The more you look, the more you notice, and there is so much to notice. The details, the finishing, the movement, the story; it’s all here. Yet somehow, it manages to be an under the radar watch still. This deceptively complex 1815 is a beautiful tribute to Walter Lange, and  I can’t think of a better watch to tribute a watchmaker or a more interesting watch to own.

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