When thinking of the real heavyweights in Haute Horlogerie, only a few big names come to mind- Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet and of course, the Germans next door, A. Lange & Sohne. While many see Swiss watches as the pinnacle of watchmaking, Lange serves as a reminder that this isn’t the case. In fact, one can say that in some areas, Lange is considered much better than its Swiss counterparts.
Everything said in the introduction predominantly revolves around one aspect of watchmaking- the chronograph. This A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition is a testament to that and was released in 2015, marking the 200th birthday of F.A. Lange, the manufacture’s founder. Usually, when describing watches, I would begin with its aesthetics but with this piece, we really need to start with the movement.
This watch is powered by a manually winding, in-house L951.5 movement and it is hailed by many as one of the greatest chronograph movements of all time. Based off the calibre that you find in the Datograph, the 1815 chronograph is the younger brother and lacks the big date. First introduced in 1999, it sent shockwaves through the watch industry as creating an in-house chronograph was no easy feat. It was a very traditonal, super high end manually wound chronograph made in Germany and this calibre played an instrumental role in sealing the reputation of A. Lange & Sohne as one of the best.
What is so crazy about the movement is just how beautiful it looks. Architecturally, it has an amazing three-dimensional look to it and with its bridges and plates made out of German silver, all perfectly hand-finished and balance cock hand engraved, words really cannot do it justice.
Mind you, up until recently, Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin were using Lemania based ebauches, with Patek Philippe only releasing their in-house chronograph in 2010 and Vacheron in 2015. Moreover, Audemars Piguet still uses an outsourced base F. Piguet calibre for their chronographs making A. Lange & Sohne over a decade ahead of the ‘holy trinity’ of Swiss watchmaking!
While there have been many versions of the 1815 chronographs released over the years, the most desirable would have to be this Boutique Edition. While it is not strictly a limited edition model, it is reserved only for the 16 A. Lange & Sohne boutiques worldwide and only a few pieces are given to each a year, making this a pretty damn rare piece.
What you get is your standard 1815 chronograph characteristics with this example made in 18k white gold. The case is expertly made as you would expect and has a rounded polished bezel with brushed sides, bevelled angular protruding lugs and square pushers that are similarly bevelled, polished and brushed. Where it differs is very subtle, but in my opinion, makes all the difference. Instead of the usual black, the numerals and text on the dial have been printed in blue and features a pulsations scale. The blue is just stunning and throws off different shades of blue depending on the light source, a small subtlety that I enjoy very much.
While the Datograph is certainly more iconic, the 1815 chronograph can certainly be seen as the thinking man’s choice as it is smaller at 39.5mm and much thinner at 11mm. It wears much more elegantly on the wrist and the no-date is also seen as a plus by many as it is seen as the more purist approach to watchmaking.
This watch comes as a full set along with a matching dark blue alligator strap and an 18k white gold tang buckle. The A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition is not an easy piece to attain and it is certainly one of my favourite dress chronographs.