Gizmo Geek: When time stood still
A Lange & Söhne, makers of high-end watches, have released a limited-edition model of their 1815 range to celebrate the10-year anniversary of their first showroom, which opened in Dresden in 2007

A mechanical watch is an anachronism, it is the ultimate refinement of ‘low’ technology,” says, a website for wristwatch enthusiasts and collectors. Indeed, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of horology is the longevity of the mechanical watch; that despite the evolution of technology that should have made the crafting of watches by hand obsolete, it has endured. So much so, some would say it occupies a space at the top of the watchmaking pyramid.

However, it would be inaccurate to say that the craft languishes in outdated methods and know-how. Modern watchmakers today have the opportunity to make use of technologies from micro-engineering and aerospace fields to access the very cutting-edge of materials and techniques in their craft. It is to celebrate precisely this very advancement and endurance that the German company A Lange & Söhne, makers of high-end watches, have to chosen to release a limited-edition model of their 1815 range.

This special-edition 1815 also celebrates the 10-year anniversary of their first showroom, which opened in Dresden in 2007. The model name corresponds to its founder Ferdinand Adolf Lange’s birth year. The watch comes in a 38.5-mm casing, featuring the traditional blue steel hands, Arabic numerals on white dial, and a “railway-track” minute scale. The three-quarter plate is made of untreated German silver, with five gold chatons secured with thermally blued screws, classic screw balance and hand-engraved balance cock with whiplash spring. It has a 55-hour power reserve when fully wound.

The watch comes in pink-gold and white-gold, and features a hinged dust cover (called curvette) that has a freehand engraving of the Dresden Frauenkirche (literally, Church of Our Lady) on it. The church, which had been destroyed in the bombing of Dresden in World War II, was re-inaugurated in 2005, and symbolises new beginnings, peace and reconciliation. This resonates with company, as Lange too, having been nationalised in 1948 under Soviet occupation and dissolved as a brand, was relaunched in 1990 following the German reunification. Today,

A Lange & Söhne’s watches are exclusive items crafted in gold or platinum. They make only a few thousand pieces a year, each one assembled by hand, featuring proprietary movements and lavish decorations.

Needless to say, the 1815 anniversary edition is bound to bring joy to the heart of any true collector. Priced between Rs 10.75 lakh and Rs 2.2 crore, these are clearly not the sort of purchase decision one makes on a whim. But those who do get their hands on this model will have the thrill of knowing that theirs is one of only 10 pieces in existence.

“There is absolutely no practical reason to make a mechanical watch,” Maximillian Büsser, founder of MB&F, makers of futuristic, unconventional watches, was once quoted as saying. “The only reasons to do it are as a tribute to tradition and as a work of mechanical art.” This special edition of A. Lange & Söhne’s 1815 range doffs its hat to that very tradition of craftsmanship that has endured for centuries.

Payal Dhar