Amongst many watch collectors, the subject of “stealth wealth” comes up frequently — those high value timepieces that easily pass unnoticed by the non horologically inclined. This sentiment can be seen across most of the Lange brand, but especially in the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 101.025 in 38.5mm and Little Lange 1 111.025 in 36mm, both given the nickname “Stealth” by their collectors. Due to this commonly stealthy presentation from Lange brand, this pair could make an even better couple’s pairing than the anniversary set we reviewed previously. A couple would even benefit from being able to buy them separately when they came up for sale individually.
The original Lange 1 reference 101.005 debuted in 1994 and had a solid caseback. The following year in 1995, the much more widely known reference 101.025 Lange 1 in platinum came out, and the highlight difference was the open caseback. From this point forward, all Lange timepieces showed off their respective movements via transparent casebacks. In 1998, A. Lange & Söhne released a downsized version of the Lange 1. This smaller version was known as the Little Lange 1 reference 111.025. This version was almost identical in design to the standard Lange 1 models, but after this, most Little Lange 1 pieces have diamond bezels or guilloché dials. The Lange 1 collection got a complete makeover in 2015, with the most significant change being the upgraded movement featuring a solid three-quarter plate and many other advancements. These are the versions still in production currently.
These two models are identical except for the smaller size and the use of a recessed pusher on the Little Lange 1, so the discussion of the designs will be the same for both. A great brand’s hallmarks are distinctive characteristics that carry across multiple lines and collections. Lange has been doing this since its inception. The dominant alpha hands, the font used across all the letters on the dial, and the style of the rectangular-shaped pushers all started with the Lange 1 and transitioned across all models. However, the asymmetrical dial layout is the Lange 1’s stand-out design feature that displays the time in one subdial, the large outsized date window, a power reserve indicator, and a subdial for the running second’s hand. The platinum version has a rhodium grey dial that is not seen on other metal variations. The 10mm thick platinum case has enough size to showcase the polished domed bezel and turndown lugs, the brushed middle case, and the polished caseback. These two come on alligator leather straps, and are fitted with platinum pin buckles to finish off the design.
The Lange 1 caliber L901.0 is a staple movement for the brand. A. Lange & Söhne based the movement design elements on this original caliber for all future movements it developed. It is highly decorated in the brand’s fashion with Glashütte ribbons along the three-quarter plate encompassing most of the caseback. This large plate sandwiches the 395-part caliber between it and the main plate, giving the movement less room to move about and ensuring greater accuracy even though this is harder to assemble. There are 54 jewels in this movement, with several housed in Lange’s gold chatons, which is a tribute to their pocket watch movements from the past. These are older calibers, and due to untreated German Silver, they have a golden hue from the oxidation of the metal. When fully wound, this movement will last over three full days, as displayed by the power reserve indicator, and beat at 21,600vph. The last and very distinctive element is the hand-engraved balance cock on the caliber, another nod to the finishes seen on old pocket watch calibers.
Versus The Competition
There are a couple of directions to consider when looking at comparable watches. The typical comparison for a Lange would be a Patek such as this Patek Philippe 5738P Golden Ellipse in Platinum. This one has an understated style and is still a classic design, but where the Lange’s dial is unusual, this Patek has a distinctive case design. This version is also platinum but features a stunning blue dial. This piece is unique to Patek and will always be a timeless watch for any collection, much like how the Lange 1 is for similar collectors. The other option to compare is a bit more of an unusual comparison. The Cartier Privee Collection Tank Chinoise is very much worth considering. Cartier is not typically the brand a Lange collector might consider; however, a piece like this is remarkable and worth a closer look. They are limited to very few models and are highly sought after by the highest tier of collectors. The Cartier Tank has incredible history and prestige among enthusiasts, similar to how the Lange 1 is thought of among the watch community. The Cartier Tank was the first ever rectangular wristwatch and will always have that title regardless of anything the brand changes or does in the future.
These two pieces are perfect for a couple that loves A. Lange & Söhne. As previously stated, the brand has a very understated appeal for many collectors, something that can fit into a collection for personal satisfaction only. That means the collector that buys this doesn’t care to show off to just any and everyone. This couple enjoys sharing a similar taste in watches and likes the idea of matching watches. It still is most likely two of many pieces in their collections. Each person most likely has their own pieces in their unique collection. They probably have a variety of timepieces to sport and formal pieces, whereas these will fit in that more formal category.
These are both very timeless pieces for any Lange collectors and make for a perfect set of matching timepieces. The fit and feel of these watches match underlying aspects of the brand’s appeal, being perfect pieces to show only to those who know. Those unfamiliar people might not take a second look, but if they do, these pieces can still stand out because of the littlest attention to detail the brand puts forth in creating them.