Interview: Wilhelm Schmid, CEO, A. Lange & Sohne..
On 13 May 2018, a unique stainless-steel 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange”, created in honour of the company’s late founder, will be auctioned for charity by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo in Geneva. Lange’s CEO Wilhelm Schmid talks about the background of the project while speaking to Financial Chronicle. Edited Excerpts:
Q: There are a lot of very precise numbers. How did you determine how many of each model to release?
The idea was to define figures that are linked to Walter Lange. We are doing 145 watches in white gold, 90 in pink gold and 27 in yellow gold, which was, by the way, Walter Lange’s favourite case material. These unusual numbers are derived from important milestones in the Lange family’s history. Ferdinand Adolph Lange originally established the company on 7 December 1845. It was 145 years later, on 7 December 1990, when Walter Lange registered Lange Uhren GmbH. There were exactly 27 years between this date and 7 December 2017, the “This watch embodies what Walter Lange stood for”. This is unique in watch-making history. As such, we additionally made one unique piece in stainless steel with a black enamel dial.
Q: A year after Walter Lange's demise you have decided to commemorate his life’s achievements.
It occurred to us that Walter Lange’s biggest wish was for A. Lange & Söhne to design a watch featuring jumping seconds based on a historic patent from 1877. We had always postponed it, and, to be honest, we did not really want to do it. We had already launched the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds, which is technically much more advanced with its constant-force escapement. But asa limited edition and a tribute to Walter Lange, it was the right thing to do.
Q: How long did it take you to develop the 1815 Homage to Walter Lange?
It took us nine months, and those who are familiar with fine watchmaking will understand that it is quite a challenge to develop a movement in such a short period of time. In the beginning, I thought we would never be able to manage it. It was the development team who made the impossible possible.
Q: What is the story behind the jumping sweep-seconds hand?
There is a lot of family history behind this development. It is inspired by an invention of Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s, which was later improved on by his sons Richard and Emil, and was eventually patented in 1877. It combines a small, continuously running seconds hand at 6 o’clock with a jumping sweep-seconds hand that indicates every single second. It can be started and stopped to measure short periods of time. It is almost like a predecessor of the chronograph.
Q: What is the idea behind auctioning this watch for charity?
This watch embodies what Walter Lange stood for. The other thing he stood for was humanitarian work. He was always thinking of other people beyond his own company.
Q: Why did you decide to put the watch up for auction as opposed to simply selling it?
“This watch embodies what Walter Lange stood for”. An auction is the most efficient and equitable way of establishing the true value of this unique piece.
Q: Where exactly will the money from the auction go?
The name of the charity organisation we have chosen is Children Action. They will use the money to provide aid to children in need. They have projects in fields like medical care or psychological support, which are set up and implemented by experts.