Limited White-Gold Edition with Deep-Blue Dial
Presented in 2015, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is the world’s only watch that combines a mechanical jumping numerals display with a decimal minute repeater. The complicated timepiece – its assembly alone requires several months – has so far been available only in platinum. Five years after its debut, it now comes in a limited 30-watch edition in white gold with a deep-blue dial.
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater features a totally new interpretation of the classic complication. Its striking mechanism – it sounds ten-minute intervals instead of quarter-hours with double strikes – is a convincing logical complement to the “digital” display of the time.
As soon as the striking mechanism is activated with the repeater pusher at 10 o’clock, it sounds the time as indicated on the dial. One hears what one sees. And one sees what one hears. At 7.52, for instance, the gong hammer on the left strikes the low-pitched gong seven times, once for every elapsed hour. Then, five double tones are struck for the elapsed ten-minute intervals, followed by the right-hand hammer with two high strikes, one for each elapsed minute. The polished gongs and the black-polished gong hammers are subtly integrated in the design of the dial.
Special Design Features
In the development of the striking mechanism, Lange’s engineers relied on the basic principle of the jumping numerals mechanism with which the time is displayed by an hour ring and two minute discs. This configuration makes it possible to sample the number of strikes to be executed – separately for the hours, ten-minute intervals and minutes – directly on the snails that are connected to the mechanical display elements. At the same time, enlarged sampling surfaces enhance the reliability of the striking mechanism. This assures that the acoustic time always corresponds to the displayed time.
Pusher Instead of Slide
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater features a unique pusher mechanism for triggering the repeater. Because the power for the striking mechanism is delivered by the mainspring barrel, there is no need for a slide – common in minute repeaters – to tension a separate spring. The absence of a large lateral opening in the case eliminated a source of acoustic disruption, thus improving the sound quality. And since a pusher, unlike a slide, can be sealed, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is water-resistant to as much as 3 bar.
To achieve the best possible sound quality, the product developers carefully reconciled all relevant parameters such as the case, gong hammers, gongs and movement architecture with one another. The large white-gold case delivers a reverberant, warm sound. The gongs, patiently tuned by hand, generate pure, resonant tones in perfect harmony.
Finesse in Details
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater stands out with a number of refined technical features that in particular optimise its operation. Since a switching action could cause mechanical conflicts while the repeater is running, the numerals discs are prevented from incrementing until the repeater sequence has ended. This can take up to 20 seconds. The delay also assures that the digitally displayed time and the acoustic time are always the same.
For the same reason, the crown cannot be pulled while the striking mechanism is active. The actuation of the repeater pusher uncouples the wheel train of the winder from the ratchet wheel that drives the striking mechanism. This prevents the wheel train of the winder, including the crown, from rotating during the repeater sequence, which would result in an unnecessary loss of energy.
Finally, when the power reserve drops to less than twelve hours, the striking mechanism can no longer be activated. This assures that the repeater sequence is always executed in full: The watch will not stop unexpectedly before the strike sequence has been completed. On the power-reserve indicator, the 12-hour mark is identified with a red dot.
Jumping Numerals Mechanism
With their precisely jumping numerals display, the Zeitwerk models stand for uncompromising purity of design. Consisting of three discs, the display module is arranged in such a way that the time, with large-format numerals, can be read from left to right in the natural way. With a gentle click and hardly discernible to the human eye, the patented jumping numerals mechanism advances from minute to minute until, at the top of the hour, all three numerals discs simultaneously jump forward by precisely one increment. An exceptionally strong mainspring is required to handle these switching actions. It is equally important to assure the controlled deceleration of the abruptly accelerated discs to rule out damage to the movement. This is done with a fly governor that absorbs excess energy after each switching sequence.
As all models of the Zeitwerk watch family, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater also features a patented constant-force escapement between the barrel and the balance that acts as a pacemaker for the instantaneous advance of the numerals discs in one-minute intervals. At the same time, it makes an important contribution to rate stability by assuring that the balance – regardless of the state of wind of the watch and despite energy-intensive switching processes – is powered with a consistent amount of force across the entire power-reserve duration.
Composed of 771 parts, the manufacture calibre L043.5 is completed by hand with extreme care and utmost patience. Of the 93 jewels, three are set in screwed gold chatons. The hand-engraved balance cock – the artistic signature of all Lange watches – was given a design complement: the escape-wheel cock engraved with the same motif.
Five years after its debut in 2015, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater now comes in a 44.2-millimetre white-gold case with a matching deployant. The deep-blue dial in solid silver contrasts beautifully against the rhodiumed German silver time bridge. A blue hand-stitched leather strap highlights the elegance of the timepiece. Limited to 30 watches, this edition is available exclusively in the 33 A. Lange & Söhne boutiques.
The latest A. Lange & Söhne watch family is growing. The ODYSSEUS now comes in white gold with an integrated rubber or leather strap. The sporty-elegant timepiece with the large-format date and day display and a water-resistant case features a grey dial with a special surface structure for a very textured effect.
When A. Lange & Söhne’s product developers come up with new ideas, they first have to answer an important question: is it possible to integrate the concept into one of our existing product families? Or will it require a totally new approach? In some cases, this question is not easy to answer and different attempts are needed to find the best solution. This was the case with the ODYSSEUS. When it became clear that the combination of the iconic Lange outsize date in the classic double aperture with an equally large day display on the opposite side produced a distinctive design, the consensus was that this model would be the cornerstone for the sixth watch family at A. Lange & Söhne.
Launched on 24 October 2019, exactly 25 years to the day after the debut of the first new-era timepiece collection by Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein, it was obvious that the ODYSSEUS was designed for active people who wish to wear their Lange watch even in situations when a precision mechanical model would ordinarily be set aside. Its prominently sculpted design emphasises the dynamic personality of the watch.
The second model of the new family combines a 40.5-millimetre white-gold case with a grey dial. White-gold hands and notched baton appliques assure good legibility against the dark background. The numerals of the outsize date and the letters of the large-format day display stand out in white on grey. With a height of 2.4 millimetres, they are easily readable even in poor light conditions. Like the hour and minute hands, the hour markers are luminous. The embossed groove structure beneath the applied hour markers and the subsidiary seconds scale enhances the textured effect of the dial. It contrasts against the glossy matt inner surfaces of the main and subsidiary dials. The red 60 on the bevelled argenté-coloured flange ring with the printed minute scale provides a subtle colour accent.
The tapered buttons for correcting the day and the date are arranged above and beneath the crown. They accentuate the prominent shape of the three-part white-gold case. The finissage of the case and the lugs is characterised by the interplay of brushed surfaces and polished chamfers. Integrated straps are available in hand-stitched leather or black rubber. The latter features air ducts on the inside for superb wearing comfort.
The watch is powered by the L155.1 DATOMATIC manufacture calibre developed exclusively for the ODYSSEUS. Its name stands for the combination of a date mechanism and automatic winding. To guarantee high rate accuracy regardless of external factors, the balance operates at a frequency of 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour (4 hertz). Recessed poising screws minimise air turbulence that could affect the rate. The movement has a maximum power reserve of 50 hours. The skeletonised and partially black-rhodiumed central rotor with a centrifugal mass in platinum assures dependable energy delivery.
In line with Lange’s philosophy, all parts are lavishly hand-finished and the movement is assembled twice. Many artisanal details can be discovered with a glance through the sapphire-crystal caseback. They include the German silver plate decorated with Glashütte ribbing, the wave pattern engraved on the balance bridge, and the screwed gold chaton above the escape wheel.
Date-and-day mechanism of the ODYSSEUS
The dial of the model ODYSSEUS is characterised by the two-part day-of-week and date display. Located on the right, the Lange outsize date in the classic double aperture is complemented with an equally large day-of-week display on the left. The therefor newly developed mechanism consists of 99 individual parts.
A. Lange & Söhne’s mechanism constructed especially for the ODYSSEUS delivers a large and superbly legible display of the date and the day-of-week in a mechanical timepiece. The typical Lange font is used for both displays.
The day switching process
The date-and-day mechanism is powered by the hour wheel that rotates once every 12 hours. It transfers its motion to the 24-hour wheel that requires exactly one day to perform a full revolution. The day-of-week display is switched directly by the 24-hour wheel. At the same time, a program wheel controls the correct switching action of the units ring and the tens disc.
The outsize date switching process
To obtain the largest possible display area, the outsize-date display is divided into a units ring and a tens disc. Driven by the program wheel, the wheel train of the units ring is advanced once a day. The transition from the 31st day of a month to the 1st day of the next month is an exception: a recess in the program wheel causes the units switching action to be skipped once. The program wheel also advances the wheel train of the tens disc every 10 days. When the 3 is displayed, the switching sequence to the blank field takes only 2 days.
Correction of the displays
The date pusher at 2 o’clock and the day pusher at 4 o’clock enable both indications to be advanced in steps of one day. Thanks to the functional design, both displays can be incremented or decremented in either direction beyond midnight by turning the crown clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Saxon watchmaker has opened it’s first boutique in Switzerland
Exclusive timepieces from Saxony have been available at Bahnhofstrasse 25 in Zurich since 19 June 2019. The new boutique has been inaugurated on 11 July 2019 in the presence of Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid.
A brand boutique in Switzerland for A. Lange & Söhne’s watchmakers, this inauguration has “special meaning,” explains Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid, “because when Swiss connoisseurs of haute horlogerie choose a watch made in Germany that is a great compliment.”
The choice of location attests to the company’s strategy to enhance the brand experience for customers in key markets with a representative collection and the ultimate in competent counsel. The rooms in the Zurich outlet showcase the new corporate design. Wilhelm Schmid says: “Our objective was to create spaces that reflect the personality of the A. Lange & Söhne brand in every detail. Together with our architects, we chose an approach that follows the Bauhaus principle by melding artistry, artisanship and technology, just like our timepieces do.” The result is an atmosphere in which people feel at ease and can explore every facet of the refined watches.
Lange watches have been available in Switzerland since 1995. In Zurich, the company now collaborates with Embassy, a dealership of long standing. Established in 1970, the maison ranks among the most prestigious players in the Swiss timepiece market, with locations in Lucerne and St Moritz. “We are delighted to have Embassy as a partner with a successful track record spanning many years in Lucerne. The name matches our goal of having – in the land of watch- makers, no less – an emissary that reflects our profound involvement with the métier,” noted Wilhelm Schmid.
With this newly opened location, the company now has eleven points of sale in Switzerland. The number of Lange boutiques worldwide has grown to 27.
Interviewed by Pascal Grenacher