Few brands epitomize the pinnacle of fine watchmaking as does A. Lange & Söhne. The German watchmaker executes everything they produce at the highest degree, overlooking nothing. In doing so, they occupy an exclusive level of classical watchmaking only a handful of other brands are capable of achieving. Perhaps none of their collections more embodies their uncompromising approach than the Richard Lange Collection, including the A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Jumping Seconds 252.029.
Introduced in 2006—16 years after the rebirth of the historic manufacturer—the Richard Lange Collection is named for the son for founder F.A. Lange. The younger Lange was an accomplished innovator and was awarded 27 patents for his watchmaking developments, many of which enhanced the accuracy of watches of the day. The eponymous collection aims to harken back to the observation pieces—watches intended for scientific study and essential to navigation—that were foundational for the brand. Several of the models take their inspiration from an 1807 regulator pocket watch made by Saxon watchmaker Johan Seyffert. Originally introduced in 2016 in platinum, the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds features the same regulator layout of Seyffert’s piece and was subsequently issued in pink gold and finally, in 2019, in white gold with a black dial.
Anyone familiar with Lange’s designs will instantly recognize the case of the Richard Lange Jumping Second. Produced in white gold with a round 39.9mm body and unassuming curved lugs, the watch is polished throughout, save for a finely brushed band around the midcase. The branded crown at 3 o’clock is perfect sized and when pulled out, resets the seconds hand instantly to zero. Despite the technical marvels held within, the watch only measures 10.6mm thick. Rolling the watch over, one is greeted through a sapphire caseback with a stunning view of the hand-finished movement.
The solid silver dial sits under a sapphire crystal and truly impresses with its deceptive simplicity. Unlike the other Jumping Seconds models, this latest iteration features a deep black dial with a subtle luster. Instead of a traditional time display, three overlapping subdials display hours, minutes, and seconds. On the lower left, the hours are displayed with roman numerals, while at the right, the minutes are displayed with along a white track with a dash of red at the 15-minute markers. Both feature white gold alpha hands.
Dominating the watch face, though, is the seconds display. With the Lange logo within a railroad seconds track, the seconds are displayed by a rhodiumed steel hand with a rhomboid counterbalance. Staying true to the aim of the Richard Lange collection, the large jumping seconds allows for excellent legibility and accurate reading of the exact time, even at a glance. This is especially useful when precise timing or synchronization is called for. And to cap the dial off, at the convergence of the three displays, a small aperture features a low-power indicator, which turns from black to red when 10 hours of reserve remain.
Driving the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds is the Lange L094.1 caliber. Comprised of 330 parts, including 50 jewels, the movement runs at 21,800 vibrations per hour with 42 hours of power reserve. It features striped bridges of German silver with polished chamfers, a finely engraved balance cock, and a swan neck regulator. The mechanical brilliance of the watch, however, rests in the remontoir, jumping seconds, and zero-reset mechanisms.
Instead of the single gear train found in most movements, the mainspring of the L094.1 drives two trains that interact with each other. The remontoir—which can be seen through a small aperture at 10 o’clock—is a constant force mechanism situated on the main gear train. Wound by the main spring, the remontoir’s secondary spring releases power evenly throughout the entirety of the power reserve, eliminating the rate variance typical in other movements. The second train drives the jumping seconds: a star wheel is mounted to the escape wheel on the first train and engages a short arm linked to the second train and the jumping seconds. Every second, the star wheel frees the arm, which completes one full rotation until it is caught again by the star wheel; this action drives the jump of the seconds display.
Finally, the zero-reset mechanism is activated by pulling the crown out: the balance wheel is stopped and the fourth wheel disengaged from the gear train, allowing the seconds hand to instantaneously swing back to zero. The primary benefits of this impressive function are precise time setting and the ability to restart the watch at a time signal (say, when taking a pulse).
Versus the Competition
While the regulator-style display with jumping seconds and zero-rest truly place this Lange in its own league, there are some comparable watches. The Jaeger LeCoultre Duometre a Quantieme Lunaire has an isolated jumping seconds as well, with a decidedly more crowded dial to accommodate a host of complications. If it’s the regulator layout—with the traditional primary minutes display—that piques ones interest, the Patek Philippe 5235 Annual Calendar Regulator or the Glashütte Original Senator Chronometer Regulator are both available in white gold and will fit the bill. If contemporary design is a must, there is no more modern a take on the regulator display than the watches produced by Ressence, such as the Type 3B.
As with any Lange timepiece, the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds is eminently classic in its styling and would be at home on the wrist of a person who maintains such a lifestyle. Further, the Jumping Seconds is deeply rooted in history and science without being loud about either and would suit well the watch enthusiast with a penchant for technical innovation who also values a bit of aesthetic decorum.
Much of the complications found in high-end timepieces exist to demonstrate the technical prowess of the manufacturer. The namesake complication of the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds is no exception. But in this case, its use is both historically-based and elegantly implemented and, in the hands of A. Lange & Söhne, has resulted in a watch that is unquestionably exceptional.