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Collectors admire German watchmakers A. Lange & Sohne for the timepieces’ incredible beauty and impeccable craftsmanship. Many consider the brand one of the finest investments, as you can sell an A. Lange & Sohne watch at a good value.
But the road to success was never easy or straight. Throughout its history, the brand, which now enjoys a celebratory status, has faced many challenges. Moreover, at some points in history, it was dormant.
Today, we know where it stands in the luxury watch industry and proudly refer to it as a brand of true watch connoisseurs. However, there are many untold truths.
If you’re eager to discover the lesser-known facts about A. Lange & Sohne, you have come to the right place.
Adolph Lange founded company A. Lange & Sohne in 1845 in the town of Glashutte in Germany. But it all started differently. Lange worked as a novice under J.C. Friedrich Gutkaes, making watches for prestigious clients while refining his watchmaking skills.
After completing his apprenticeship in 1835, Lange continued his learning with a chronometer maker, and after some time, he returned to Glashutte to start his workshop. On December 7th, 1845, A. Lange & Sohne, the company, was born!
Seeing that none of his seven sons was joining him in the company, he didn’t launch the name we know today. After all, ‘& Sohne’ means ‘Sons’. In 1868, when Adolph’s elder son Richard joined him in the company, the name A. Lange & Sohne was established.
Following Adolph’s death in 1875 at 60 due to heart failure, his sons took over the company to continue the legacy. The company continued to grow, and it needed a new premise. In 1873, they moved to Stammhaus, the company’s headquarters today.
Both the sons, Emily and Richard, were involved in the business. While Emil was interested in business, Richard shared his father’s knack and made stunning inventions. For instance, he created chronographs, a pocket watch with a minute counter, quarter repeaters, and more.
Apart from being an astounding watchmaker, Adolph Lange was the Mayor of Glashutte, his hometown, for 18 years. He was even awarded honourary citizenship after his retirement. During his appointment as Mayor, he helped rebuild the town into an industrial centre for watch manufacturing and made the town prosper.
A.Lange had the vision to create the world’s finest watches and started innovating early. In 1846, he introduced the three-quarter plate. Following that, he replaced the traditional watchmaking measuring Parisian lignes system with a metric system, which placed him much ahead of his time. The millimetre made its debut, which is still in use.
Glashutte is the hometown of A. Lange & Sohne, and to honour the legacy, the company is in the same town. Unlike its Swiss peers that moved to the capital of watchmaking, A. Lange & Sohne has remained true to its roots. Moreover, as said earlier, the company has had its headquarters at Stammhaus since 1873.
The Second World War brought huge challenges, and A. Lange & Sohne, including Glashutte, was not outside this league. During the war, the company manufactured oversized pilot watches known as Luftwaffe for the German Airforce. Unfortunately, on the last night of the war in 1945, the Lange workshops were destroyed during a bombing raid, temporarily shutting down the production.
Following WWII in 1948, the Soviets seized the Lange family and nationalised the company’s property, including every other watch company in Glashutte. During this time, the company was manufacturing the new Calibre 28.
In 1951 all the seized watch companies were merged, leading to the disappearance of A. Lange & Sohne’s name from the dials, but not forever.
After almost 45 years of living a dead life, Walter Lange (Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s great-grandson) revived the company with a little help from other Swiss watch brands, including Jaeger-LeCoultre & IWC. In 1990, he re-registered A. Lange & Sohne’s trademark, and after four years, the company produced its first watches. The first collection, which featured an oversized date window, laid the foundation of Lange’s watches.
To make it even more memorable, A. Lange & Sohne was re-established on the same day Adolph Lange had originally founded it, after 145 years!
After a stable resurrection, Richemont’s watch group acquired the company in 2000. Since then, A. Lange & Sohne has been a subsidiary.
The finesse and exclusivity of the Lange watch captured the attention of several notable individuals, including Alexander II of Russia, German Emperor Wilhelm II, and others. But what revolutionised the brand’s image during the early years was the Grand Complication Number 42500. The one-of-a-kind timepiece was created in 1902 and comprised 833 parts, including some astonishing complications. Some of them are:
Although this watch is extremely complicated, this isn’t the only complex timepiece in A.Lange & Sohne’s modern history.
In 2013, A. Lange & Sohne was out with what is known as the brand’s most complicated timepiece so far, an upgraded version of the Grande Complication Number 42500. Some of the key complications adorning this watch include:
The complexity of this timepiece is so hard to decode that A. Lange & Sohne produces only one piece per year. To date, the brand has curated only 6 of these outstanding watches.
Anthony de Haas, the brand’s product development director, once said that it takes almost 4-5 years to develop a timepiece with a new calibre. Moreover, this also depends on the movement’s complexity.
Compared to renowned watch brands like Audemars Piguet, which produces almost 40,000 watches annually, A. Lange & Sohne produces only 5000! The brand puts great focus on detailing and craftsmanship. After all, it is not about mass production but capturing the fine essence of classic watchmaking in each timepiece.
A.Lange & Sohne produces most of the watches in precious metals like gold (yellow, white, honey and rose) or platinum. However, it doesn’t mean that the brand neglects stainless steel. The A. Lange & Sohne designs the Odysseus models in stainless steel.
In January 2018, A. Lange & Sohne created the world’s first chronograph with a triple-split mechanism, allowing multi-hour comparative time measurement. The wearers could get an accuracy of up to one-sixth of a second. Furthermore, the movement features an isolator mechanism that helps secure the balance wheel’s amplitude.
The very fact that A. Lange & Sohne exists today is because of Walter Lange’s unequivocal courage and pioneering effort. The brand continues to live by Walter’s motto: ‘Never Stand Still’, reminding the watchmakers to keep up with the industry pace.
Since 1845, A. Lange & Sohne has delivered timeless mechanical beauties by successfully living through various challenges. Each timepiece reminds collectors about the brand’s elaborate history and advanced performance, ensuring a lifetime of timekeeping.
Browse through The Luxury Hut’s exclusive collection of pre-owned A. Lange & Sohne watches at the best prices in the UK. You can also part exchange your watch for any A. Lange & Sohne timepiece from our collection. We’ll be happy to assist you with the best trade!
And, if you’re looking to sell A. Lange & Sohne watches, we can offer you the best possible price in the market. You can fill in our online form to get a quick valuation or call us on 0207 242 9160 for a detailed discussion.
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