Watches & Wonders 2015: Honey to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s birth
Somebody’s got to ask. What has honey got to do with watches? On the face of it, nothing, really. Nothing at all. But in honour of Ferdinand A. Lange, who would have turned 200 in 2015, A. Lange & Söhne, the watchmaker established in 1845, is offering us honey of a different kind. At the Watches & Wonders fair in Hong Kong, the Saxony-based firm showed us their very distinguished 200th Anniversary F. A. Lange watch, which, in deference to the anniversary in question, is limited to 200 samples.
In keeping with the Lange philosophy to which the company has held fast since its renaissance, the case for this limited edition 1815, which measures 40 millimetres across, is made of precious metal. Gold, to be precise. Or, to be more precise, an alloy distinctive for its exclusive colouring, which brings me back to the honey I mentioned at the start. The colour makes you think of honey. And that arises from a particular alloy. The base is 18-carat white gold without palladium, nickel or silver. Mixing it with a little copper, zinc and silicon gives it the subtle honey-coloured tinge. A special thermal process then makes it remarkably hard. Normal gold has a hardness of 180 Vickers, honey gold 320. And that considerably increases its scratch-resistance.
The case is home to the Glashütte-made L051.1 hand-wound calibre which consists of 188 finely finished components. It is 30.6 millimetres across and 4.6 millimetres thick. Once fully wound, it is good to go for 55 hours. As it does for all its movements, the heritage watchmaker also makes the three-quarter plate for the L051.1 out of untreated German silver. The balance cock is engraved by hand. Thanks to a balance wheel with a variable moment of inertia, the hairspring manufactured in house can breathe freely. There is no need to regulate its functioning by changing the active coil length. The escapement frequency is 21,600 vibrations per hour.
The gooseneck fine-tuning makes perfect sense too, the stopping of the escapement tooth creating the uniform tick-tock. There are also five secured gold chatons, held in place by thermally blued screws.
The dial of the 1815 200th Anniversary F. A. Lange is made of solid silver with a fine grain structure and is reminiscent of historic observation watches and marine chronometers.