In 1845 Adolph Lange left Dresden, where he had built a reputation as a watchmaker to Europe’s nobility, and settled in the poor mining town of Glashütte in the mountains of Saxony. He wanted to help the local people, who were starving since their mines were exhausted and their crops had failed. Over the years, Lange’s initiatives made Glashütte into Germany’s watchmaking centre, and timepieces from A. Lange & Söhne achieved worldwide fame. The company’s unique skills and reputation helped it survive wars and economic depressions, until Glashütte was bombed on the last day of the second world war, and Lange’s workshops were almost completely destroyed. Three years later, the communist regime of East Germany took possession of the watchmaking industry in Glashütte, bringing A. Lange & Söhne to a close after more than 100 years in business.
When Germany was reunited in 1990, Adolph’s great-grandson Walter Lange returned to Glashütte to start again, 145 years to the day since Adolph had opened his workshop there. Combining his fourth- generation know-how with investment in the latest technology, Walter Lange was able to present a collection of four new Lange watches within just four years, which lived up to Adolph’s original philosophy: “State of the Art Tradition”. All four models: the limited edition masterpiece tourbillon “Pour le Mérite”, the Lange 1, the Saxonia and the Arkade, included traditional Lange features, such as the three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver, and the whiplash precision index adjuster screwed to a hand-engraved balance cock. In addition there were mechanical innovations unique to the new company, including the outsize date.
In the years since Lange’s rebirth, the innovations have continued, with a series of new movements and mechanisms. The company’s product range now includes the self-winding Langematik, the innovative chronograph Datograph, and the Double Split flyback chronograph with a double rattrapante mechanism. One of the few companies which manufactures all its key components, Lange goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure the ultimate in mechanical perfection and precision as well as aesthetic detail. Every watch is famously assembled twice. The first assembly is to calibrate and adjust the parts, but as this process causes tiny scratches on the movement, it is taken apart again so that every surface can be finished and cleaned, and surface decorations can be added, before re-assembly. The sapphire crystal window on the back of every Lange watch shows off trademark decorative details including screwed gold chatons held by blued steel screws and the craftsmanship of the master engraver, which is unique to each watch.
Since 1990, watches from A. Lange & Söhne have been honoured with more than 70 international awards, including more than 40 industry first prizes. The company is indisputably among the very finest watchmakers in the world.