Hands-on with the Lange & Söhne Grand Lange 1 Lumen
Last week Lange & Söhne released a, for them, rather unusual timepiece. During a trip to the beautiful towns of Dresden and Glashütte, the new timepiece was revealed to the international press. Although differences with the regular Grand Lange 1 might seem minimal, the new Gand Lange 1 “Lumen” has a very different look.
The hands, hour and minute markers, date and power reserve markers are equipped with SuperLuminova, a material that glows in the dark after being activated by sunlight or artificial light. The new, partially transparent, dial not only has a functional reason, but also give the Grand Lange 1 “Lumen” a much more contemporary look… stealthy!
The Lange 1 has become a true iconic timepiece, since its inception in 1994. In that year Lange & Söhne introduced their first four timepieces, which they created after re-establishing the brand after East and West Germany were re-united in 1989. The other three timepieces, the Saxonia, the Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite” and the Arkade, also gained name, but none as iconic and immediately recognizable as the Lange 1.
It is rather impressive how Lange & Söhne managed to keep that typical very classic looks that we know Lange & Söhne for and transform it to a much more contemporary almost stealthy timepiece. Like Wilhelm Schmid, CEO of Lange & Söhne, told me during the launch of the Grand Lange 1 “Lumen”: ‘the devil is in the details’.
Usually the beautiful manually wound calibre L095.2 is hidden behind the silver dial. Now parts of its dial consist of semi- transparent sapphire crystal and only the outer ring and the surfaces of the displays for hours and minutes as well as small seconds are made of blackened silver. The sapphire crystal surfaces reveals the disc mechanism of the first outsize date that glows in the dark and the ‘perlage’ finish of the main plate, which usually remains unseen.
The manufacture movement showcases many of the traditional elements of the legendary pocket watches signed by Lange, including the three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver, the screwed gold chatons, and the hand-engraved balance cock with the whiplash precision index adjuster.
German silver is stronger than brass, which is often used in the watch industry, and is composed of copper, nickel, and zinc. The latter element allows it to oxidise only to a small extent. German silver reacts very slowly when exposed to oxygen in the air and in the course of time, this alloy is coated with a beautiful golden-yellow patina that protects the material against further oxidation, thus eliminating the need for protective electroplating, like it is used for Rhodium plating. This is why German silver can remain in its natural “untreated” state.
The three-quarter plate is one of the most important traditional elements of A. Lange & Söhne watches. It was introduced by Ferdinand A. Lange in 1864 and since then has established itself as a characteristic feature of watchmaking in Glashütte.
The three-quarter plate accommodates the bearings of the going train. During assembly, it must be accurately positioned over several arbors at the same time, a task which requires a steady hand. The advantage (over a conventional multi-bridge configuration) is that it adds considerable stability to the movement.
The Lange & Söhne outsized “Lumen” date
Back in 1994, the Lange outsize date, was the first exceptionally large date display ever developed for mechanical wristwatch. It consists of two separate display discs that provide a date display about three times larger than that of conventional watches.
Switching from the regular outsized date to the “Lumen” outsized date wasn’t as simple as it might sound. The technical challenge was to ensure maximum luminosity for the date display of the Grand Lange 1 “Lumen”, even immediately after the date has just switched. Luminous material needs to be charged by sunlight or artificial light before it becomes luminous.
Lange’s product developers coated the date cross that displays the 10/20/30 with white luminous compound. The disc that indicates the date numerals (0-9) is made of transparent glass imprinted with black numerals, which rotates before a luminous background.
The sapphire crystal dial is treated with a special coating that blocks most of the visible spectrum of light, however it lets (for the eye) invisible UV light through, so the luminous surfaces of the outsize date can be charged. The dial of the Grand Lange 1 “Lumen” presents the indications of the hours, minutes, seconds, outsize date, and power reserve without any overlaps. And does so day and night.
The platinum case, measuring almost 41 mm in diameter and just under 10 mm in height, is an absolute pleasure on the wrist. Because of its dark dial it looks smaller on the wrist as the regular Grand Lange 1 with silver dial. Because of the new coated/transparent sapphire dial and luminous details, the Grand Lange 1 “Lumen” looks much more contemporary then the regular Grand Lange 1. However it also ratians the strong Lange & Söhne DNA, perfectly balancing between classic and modern.
The coated sapphire crystal shows all variations from light grey and very transparent, to almost black, to a very striking blue hue. The new Grand Lange 1 “Lumen” is a limited edition of
100 200 pieces in platinum and comes at a price of € 59.000 Euro including tax.
Some specs of the Grand Lange 1 “Lumen” Ref. 117.035
- Movement: Lange manufacture calibre L095.2, manually wound, decorated and assembled by hand, plates and bridges made of untreated German silver, finished with perlage and Glashütte ribbing, balance cock engraved by hand, 400 parts, 42 jewels, 7 screwed gold chatons, 72 hours of power reserve when fully wound.
- Case: platinum, 40.9 mm in diameter, 9.8 mm in height, sapphire crystal (hardness 9) in front and back, basic dial (outer ring, hour, minutes, small seconds) of blackened solid silver, recessed parts of sapphire crystal with semi-transparent coating; luminous outsize date and indications for time and power-reserve
This article is written by Frank Geelen, executive editor for Monochrome Watches.