Timekeeping: First Look at the A. Lange & Söhne Grand Lange 1 Lumen
Christmas came early in Saxony this year, at least for Gear Patrol and a few other journalists who were given a rare sneak preview of one A. Lange & Söhne’s novelty timepieces for 2013. On a snowy night in a villa overlooking the Elbe River in Dresden, Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid introduced the Grand Lange 1 Lumen, which the brand will introduce at next month’s Salon International Haute Horlogerie in Geneva. A new watch from Lange is always reason for excitement, and the Grand Lange 1 Lumen is no exception.
The new timepiece is a fresh take on the German brand’s iconic Lange 1 design, retaining its familiar offset dial layout and oversized date display, inspired by the “Five-Minute Clock” in Dresden’s Semper Opera House, but introducing the semi-opaque dial first seen on the limited series Zeitwerk Luminous. As with most design elements by Lange, the stealthy dial serves a unique purpose: it blocks most visible light from reaching the movement beneath, but allows enough through to “charge” the luminescent coating on the date display. When the date changes at midnight, this causes the numbers to glow as if they’d been in the light all day.
The semi-opaque (or semi-transparent, depending on how you look at it) dial innovation was first developed for the Zeitwerk Luminous, and allows its digital time display to be bright despite the number discs being hidden beneath the dial for most of the day. On that watch this was arguably more useful, since a glowing date display is not exactly crucial unless you’re writing checks during a power failure. But in watchmaking, it’s often more about pushing boundaries to show what’s possible than pure utility. After all, we’re talking about hand-wound mechanical watches here.
Beyond the luminous numerals, the dial gives a glimpse of the perlaged date disc mechanism beneath, something not usually seen (unless you’re a Lange watchmaker). It also lends the timepiece a sportier (if that’s possible with a Lange) and more youthful aesthetic and gives added visual interest to a watch that is already filled with delightful details. Speaking of details, the fully black sections of the dial — the hour/minute register, the seconds register and the outer ring — are made of blackened silver; no mere paint is good enough for Lange & Söhne. And, as with every Lange, the back of the watch is almost prettier than the front, with full view of the fantastically-decorated in-house movement, the Lange calibre L095.2.
The 40.9mm platinum-cased Grand Lange 1 Lumen is a limited edition watch, with only 200 pieces slated for production. So if you want to get your hands on this watch like we did, save your pfennigs and put your name in early. It will be priced at $59,000.