Released in 1994 shortly after their resurgence, the Lange 1 is widely considered as 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 Lange'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 Lange watch would look like if the company never ceased to exist all those years ago.
Beginning with its construction, this first generation Lange 1 Ref. 101.031 that I have here features a beautiful finished and carefully crafted 38.5mm rose gold 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 sights flared lugs, the rose gold's soft red undertone balances wonderfully with the rose gold accents found throughout the dial.
Standing out against that deep black dial, the Lange 1's asymmetrical layout is all the more captivating with its off-center outsize date indication - inspired by the Five-Minute Clock in the Semper Opera House and adding a large area of contrast to the otherwise darker tone of the watch. 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, a seconds sub-dial at 5 o'clock, and a power-reserve indicator at 3 o'clock, 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.
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, stunning ¾ plate, charming German silver architecture, and beautifully engraved balance cock - as is Lange's signature, the cal. L901.0 is a fitting tribute to the incredible watch it powers.
With the current trend of neo-vintage watches coming back into vogue, it is no surprise that the first-generation, 38.5mm Lange 1’s occupy a place in that pantheon.