A. Lange & Söhne Grand Complication
Practically Inconceivable
by ED ESTLOW



Your girlfriend just called to say she's on her way over -- only you're currently entertaining your other girlfriend. That's complicated. A complication, on the other hand, is any active feature of a watch beyond hours, minutes and seconds. A date display is a complication. So is a chronograph, a moon phase, chimes, a perpetual calendar, and so on. The harder a complication is to implement, either from a design standpoint or a manufacturing standpoint, the more prestige it carries. Combine several complications and things get interesting -- and expensive. Combine several of the most challenging ones and you get what's known as a "grand complication". 


Each brand makes its own rules on what a grand complication contains. Typically, it means a timepiece containing at least one complication from each of three categories: timing complications, astronomical complications and striking complications. The A. Lange & Söhne Grand Complication goes a few better than that. While it's not the most complicated timepiece ever made (Patek Philippe holds that distinction), it's the most complicated timepiece ever manufactured by A. Lange & Söhne, and arguably the most challenging ever attempted by any brand. It took Lange seven years to develop the watch's L1902 movement, which features a sonnerie (chiming mechanism) with grand and small strike, a minute repeater, a mono-pusher rattrapante (split-seconds: a complication within a complication) chronograph with minute counter and flying seconds (it indicates fractions of a second in a sub-dial of its own: another complication within a complication), a perpetual calendar with date, day of week, and month in four-year cycle, and a moon phase. 


Out of breath yet? If you are, it's because this is a significantly higher density of complications than most other watches in the category. That density, and the excellent implementation of its design, are why Lange's Grand Complication is garnering so much attention.




 CONTINUES BELOW




So how is this laundry list of complications kept running? The timekeeping mechanism is powered by one mainspring barrel with a power reserve of 30 hours, while the sonnerie has its own spring barrel, which delivers enough power for 24 hours worth of chimes. These chimes are tuned exclusively by hand and "by ear", a daunting task for a watchmaker if there ever was one. The 248-part split-seconds chronograph mechanism is the most complex ensemble of the watch. The energy needed for this function is considerable and requires another spring barrel. That makes three, count 'em, three, mainsprings in this watch. 


All this machinery is housed in a 50mm diameter, 20.3mm thick pink gold case. The timekeeping and calendar functions are indicated on a beautiful enamel dial, and the finely finished mechanism, some parts of which take a month to polish, can be seen through its display case back. During the year it takes for each Grande Complication to be assembled, it will be checked and rechecked, assembled, disassembled, and assembled again to ensure that all 876 parts function flawlessly.


One imagines that the true market for such a watch would be extremely small, but collectors love complications, especially grand ones. Unfortunately for these well-heeled horophiles, Lange has limited the edition to just six Grande Complications, which will be produced over the next six years (making any more would seriously impair the rest of Lange's production). For the (not literally) poor guy seventh in line, we have no consolation.


$2,598,000, alange-soehne.com




BEST COMPLICATIONS UNDER $500
BEST MID-SIZED WATCHES
BEST SAILING WATCHES
THE GP100 WATCH INDUCTEES

STATEMENT


Excellence, innovation, craftsmanship, and an unwavering desire to challenge expectations -- these are the constants that have captivated our attention since Gear Patrol's inception in 2007. This year we're proud to announce the next step in our role as a champion of quality in product design and execution: welcome to the GP100. Our inaugural product awards are dedicated to honoring the 100 best consumer products released during the calendar year by companies of all sizes and scope. 


The GP100 is not a ranking or a contest. These selections represent the collective expertise of our entire editorial staff, who have scoured every corner of the vast product universe -- from automotive and electronics, to men's style essentials, home goods, spirits and outdoors -- to find the inspiring and the practical, the ground-breaking and the traditional, the priceless and the accessible. In short: products that define or defy their respective categories to better the life of the modern man.



METHODOLOGY


The GP100 is not a contest influenced by marketers or brands, nor is it a ranking by specifications as determined by uniform tests. Instead, it starts with a comprehensive list of nominees released in the calendar year, researched and compiled by our editorial team of obsessed experts across all of Gear Patrol's major areas of interest including Motoring, Technology, Style, Home, Spirits, Outdoor and Watches. Brands are not part of the selection process. Nominees are then debated in context of the past, present and future of their respective fields. Which selections stand as significant innovations, category busters or faithful monuments to the icons of history? Do they adhere to Gear Patrol's core tenets of excellence, design, utility and the spirit of adventure? Distilled to the following 100 items, the GP100 represents the best products on earth released in 2013 -- easily inspiring consumers and creators alike during their search for guideposts of excellence in a vast world of products.



THE CATEGORIES


Motoring   Watches   Style   Technology   Sports   Outdoors   Home   Spirits

WRITERS


Jeremy Berger

Ben Bowers
Alex Bracetti
Nick Caruso
Ed Estlow
Jon Gaffney
Jonathan Gallegos
K.B. Gould
Bradley Hasemeyer
Jason Heaton
Mike Hensen
Amos Kwon
Matt Neundorf
Scott Packard
Austin Parker
Henry Phillips
Peter Saltsman
Chris Wright
Eric Yang


CREDITS

Produced by Ben Bowers, Chris Wright, Eric Yang
Designed by Eric Yang
Edited by Chris Wright
Photography by Henry Phillips, Eric Yang
Special Thanks to Braun, Scroll Kit and Say Media

RESOURCES

Inquiries, Corrections  support@gearpatrol.com
2014 Submissions  100@gearpatrol.com