Released in 1994 shortly after their resurgence, the Lange 1 is widely considered to be one of the most recognizable watches to come out of A. Lange & Söhne's hallowed halls. Known for its archetypal Lange design, the Lange 1 combines dressy aesthetics with an unusual asymmetrical dial arrangement to create what has since become a true icon as a stalwart of the brand. Created during A. Lange & Söhne's re-establishment in the '90s, the Lange 1 was among the first batch of novelties released to mark the Saxon brand's return to watchmaking, following the cessation of their operations in 1948. The purpose of the Lange 1 was to surprise watch experts, garner unanimous approval and address the question of what a modern A. Lange & Söhne watch would look like if the company never ceased to exist all those years ago.
Beginning with its construction, this A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Ref. 101.005 ‘Stealth’ that I have here features a beautifully crafted 38.5mm platinum 950 case that stands 9.8mm tall and retains the classic dress watch aesthetic that Lange has been known for its entire existence. Circular with rounded edges and elegant flared lugs, the hefty platinum case is a perfect canvas for its beautiful German silver dial. It is also worth noting that collectors have coined this reference the ‘Stealth’ due to the monochromatic visual that arises from the colour combination of platinum and the German silver dial. A very fitting nickname, if you ask me.
Standing out against that muted silver dial, the Lange 1's asymmetrical layout is all the more captivating with its off-centre outsize date indication - inspired by the Five-Minute Clock in the Semper Opera House and adding a large area of contrast to the otherwise slightly darker tone of the dial. To top it off, the dial also hosts a set of faceted hands with applied Roman numerals. Furthermore, a pusher at 10 o’clock allows the user to easily jump the date, adding usability to the watch. With an asymmetrically positioned hour and minute sub-dial, seconds sub-dial at 5 o'clock, and a power-reserve indicator between 2 and 4 o'clock (here: AB means empty, and AUF means full), the Lange 1 has become a staple within the brand's portfolio of iconic timepieces with a surprising level of utility for a dress watch.
One of the best things about owning a timepiece from A. Lange & Söhne is the opportunity to admire the movement from behind. Powering this complexity lies Lange's manual-wind Cal. L901.0 movement. Methodically beating away at 21,600 BPH, this movement provides an impressive 72 hours of power reserve and is proudly displayed behind the Lange 1's exhibition caseback. With its emphatic finishing throughout featuring anglage and exceptional hand-finished chamfers, a stunning ¾ plate, charming German silver architecture, and beautifully engraved balance cock - as is A. Lange & Söhne's signature, the Cal. L901.0 is a fitting tribute to the incredible watch it powers.
In essence, the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Ref. 101.025 'Stealth' stands as a masterpiece of German horological craftsmanship, eloquently exemplifying the brand’s unwavering commitment to impeccable watch design and construction. In the current resurgence of neo-vintage watches, it comes as no surprise that the initial 38.5mm Lange 1 models hold a special place in this trend. While there is an earlier version, the Ref. 101.005, featuring a closed caseback, my preference gravitates towards this particular variant for obvious reasons.