When considering the leading players in the world of high-end watchmaking, only a handful of prestigious brands come to mind: Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, and, of course, the neighboring German brand from Glashütte, A. Lange & Söhne. While Swiss watches are often regarded as the epitome of watchmaking, A. Lange & Söhne stands as a testament to the fact that this perception is not universally true. In fact, it can be argued that in certain aspects, A. Lange & Söhne surpasses its Swiss counterparts, establishing itself as a superior contender.
What we have on offer today is an A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph Ref. 414.028 in 18-carat white gold, which belongs to the third generation of the 1815 Chronograph range. To understand the lineage of this beautiful work of mechanical art and why it is widely dubbed by enthusiasts as the younger brother of the Datograph, we must go back in time.
When the Datograph was first unveiled by the Glashütte-based watchmaker in 1999, it created significant waves within the watch industry. Its remarkable technical prowess appealed to discerning collectors and enthusiasts worldwide. At the time, the Datograph had established A. Lange & Söhne's reputation within the industry as a serious high-end watchmaker, but the brand understood the growing need for a more pragmatic and accessible option, and was facing the challenge of delivering a comparable level of awe in a more compact and succinct form – cue the 1815 Chronograph.
The release of the 1815 Chronograph in 2004 was a compelling one to many, it retained the Cal. L951 movement from the Datograph (this time without the date complication) and showcased the brand's distinctive German design aesthetic. Since then, the 1815 Chronograph has undergone three generations of evolution, with each iteration exhibiting some noticeable refinements and subtle nuances.
To provide further context, the 1815 collection pays tribute to the birth year of its founder, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, who established the original company. This historical connection continues to serve as inspiration for the 1815 range and has played a prominent role in Lange's collection since 2002, and each model within the series adheres to a consistent set of design elements: a clean minimalistic dial, the use of Arabic numerals, and a railway track-style minute scale on the dial periphery. All of which can be observed in this A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph Ref. 414.028.
The Ref. 414.028 showcases an extraordinarily well-constructed 18-carat white gold case, as one would expect from a brand like A. Lange & Söhne. The contemporary-sized 39.5mm case is constructed with three distinct sections, each featuring its own finishing. The mid-case boasts a satin brushed texture, while the bezel and caseback are meticulously mirror-polished. The dial of this timepiece possesses an indescribable subtle-yet-striking quality. Its monochromatic appearance exudes sophistication and modernity, beautifully accentuating the intricate details. On the dial, you'll find a pulsometer scale at its periphery, followed by a set of elegant Arabic numerals, a small-seconds sub-dial on the left, as well as a 30-minute counter on the right. The final touch is the use of white gold hands here, adding an elegant finishing flourish to the Ref. 414.028’s clean and well-spaced-out dial.
I have said this many times and I will say it again: one of the best things about owning an A. Lange & Söhne is the opportunity to just turn the watch on its back and admire its movement in all of its glory. What else can I say? The manual-winding, column-wheel, Cal. L951.5 is absolutely sensational from top to bottom - from the movement architecture, harmonious visual blend of colors, and intricate details such as the use of different techniques as well as the iconic engraved balance cock. It also features a 60-hour power reserve for good measure. What makes this caliber even better is the fact that it has been hailed by many (including the legendary Philippe Dufour) as one of the greatest chronograph movements of all time.
While the Datograph is undeniably regarded as an iconic and emblematic reference for A. Lange & Söhne, it has become quite clear that the 1815 Chronograph still manages to hold its own appeal as the choice for the discerning enthusiast. With its slightly smaller and slimmer 39.5mm x 11mm case profile, the 1815 Chronograph is undoubtedly an elegant timepiece that comes with a certain pragmatic sensibility, which makes it an excellent choice for everyday wear in my opinion. The absence of a date function is also considered a positive feature by many, as it represents a more purist approach to watchmaking. Again, the Ref. 414.028 is an exemplary work of German horological art and undoubtedly an exceptional timepiece that eloquently illustrates A. Lange & Söhne’s no-compromise approach to watch design and construction.