The A. Lange & S?hne Lange 1 Time Zone Luminous 1

If someone were to design a watch that would fit “me” (me being Ben Clymer, journalist and editor of this here horologically-focused web-log), it might look very much like A. Lange & S?hne’s Lange One Time Zone White Gold Luminous. I travel. A lot. Sometimes too much. And shockingly, I don’t own a dual-time replica tag heuer Grand Carrera, nor a world-timer. I also don’t own a Lange – which as someone who really (really, really) likes watches, is becoming something of a misstep. But thanks to ALS North America, I was able to test-drive their new Lange 1 Time Zone in white gold with luminous hands while traveling around Europe. This is my detailed review of a watch I didn't think much of when I saw it at SIHH in January, and now can't stop thinking about.

Before we get into the matter at hand, let's talk about just who Lange is and what they do.A. Lange & S?hne (as we know it today) is one of the most revered watchmakers on planet earth. They’ve been making watches since 1994, but they’ve accomplished so much in this 18 year time period that it is downright shocking. We'll cover that a bit below, but suffice it to say the holy trinity of fine watchmaking – Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet – has since 1994 really been a quartet, and according to some it’s really more like a duet including Lange and, well, one of the other three (which is up to you).

Lange makes divine mechanical movements, and has done so since their re-inception. They produce fewer than 5,000 watches per year in the sleepy town of Glashütte, Germany, and according to many, they are responsible for kick-starting the trend of in-house design and manufacture. The Lange 1, which was the inaugural piece from ALS in 1994, featured a movement unlike anything the world had seen up to that point, and the mechanics were simply brilliant.

Featuring a 72 hour power reserve and a movement built on German silver, the Lange 1's offset dial was complimented by a "big date" complication activated by a pusher at 10 o'clock. The Lange 1 catapulted Lange to the top of the horological world, but it was in 1999 though, that Lange made one of its biggest contributions to the industry. At Basel World 1999, it revealed the first truly in-house designed and manufactured chronograph in decades, the Caliber 951, found inside the brilliant Datograph.

Indeed, the Datograph, along with so many of Lange's developments over its short lifespan, has been the cause of severe tremors in the traditional watch industry because A.Lange&Sohne replica uk bucked the trend of using ebauche movements and decided to do everything on their own. Not only was the Datograph's movement completely new, but it was also aesthetically divine - taking on a deep, three-dimensional look - and technically robust, with a fly-back mechanism and the world's first instantaneous jumping minute display. It can be said that it was the Datograph that started the trend of in-house movements, in particular, chronographs. Here is a short video we filmed a few years back explaining the Datograph in greater detail, for those interested:

There is an industry legend that when Lange introduced the Datograph in 1999 at BaselWorld (Lange was exhibiting at Basel then within IWC's booth), Patek Philippe chief Philippe Stern popped into the booth, took ten laps around the display of the Datograph's never-before-seen movement, and returned to his booth with furrowed brow. While nothing more than hearsay, one can only imagine the conversation around the Sterns' dinner table the night they first saw the new chronograph from the funny little German brand who was renting a small corner of big brother IWC's booth.

Lange has done more than just create arguably the finest mechanical chronograph in the world, they seem to operate by an entirely different set of rules than so many of their competitors. Esteemed watch journalist Jack Forster had this to say:
“They’re really playing a different game than most of the other luxury watch firms - they’re doing it quietly, without a lot of fuss, without flashy limited editions or high profile brand ambassadors, and they only make a few thousand Franck Muller replica uk a year. They seem to understand that real luxury is a service business; they don’t forget about you once they’ve sold you a watch. It’s pretty incredible, but most of their energy goes into watchmaking, and I can think of few other companies where there’s so much of what connoisseurs want.”

But, for all that Lange does so well (and there is a lot), they have the occasional detractor. There are few collectors or journalists that would debate that Lange makes some of the best movements in the industry, but there are some that would argue that others make more refined, complete watches. What I mean by this is that there is more to a watch than simply a perfectly designed and finished movement. There is the case shape and fit, the dial design and symmetry, the size, shape and feel of the strap and buckle, and, well, about 100 other things that make something wearable into something beautiful, and something cool into something lasting.

One of the complaints often heard against Lange (we surveyed top collectors and dug into the Lange forums) is that some of their cases lack the refinement of some of their Swiss competitors and that occasionally, they come across as simply too technical, and not emotional enough. Take, for example, the original 39mm Datograph. The Datograph is an undeniably awesome watch, and even historically important, yet many collectors and observers note the thick, "top heavy" case. The edged exhibition caseback causes the 39mm Datograph to sit higher on the wrist than the 12.8mm thickness might suggest. Other criticisms of the original Datograph include the inclusion of roman numerals on the dial, not typically seen on chronographs, and that the lugs are simply too pronounced.

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