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. Made 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.
This Lange 1 191.028 was created in 2017 as part of a limited series of timepieces coined the “Blue series”, which is essentially a restyling exercise of several references (Lange 1 Daymatic, the Saxonia, and the Saxonia Automatic) that featured a similar blue dial like this example here. Blue dials are generally considered quite trendy in the world of watchmaking today, yet for Lange, it is not something you see very often in their collection.
The deep-blue dial we see on this example is handcrafted from solid silver and embellished with markers and hands made of rhodiumed gold. It also features a beautifully crafted 38.5mm 18-carat white gold case that retains the classic dress watch aesthetic Lange has been known for its entire existence. Circular with rounded edges and elegant flared lugs, I think the white gold case used here is the perfect canvas to host the Lange 1’s mesmerizing deep-blue dial.
Standing out against that captivating deep-blue 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 of Dresden. Furthermore, a pusher at 10 o’clock allows the user to easily ‘jump’ the date, adding convenience and 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 at 3 o'clock in German - AB (which means empty) and AUF (which means full tank). The tandem barrels (indicated by the word Doppelfederhaus on the lower part of the dial) provide a robust 3-day power reserve.
Powering this complexity lies Lange's manual-wind, in-house Cal. L121.1 movement, which is essentially a second-generation Lange 1 movement created in 2015. As mentioned earlier, it boasts an impressive 72 hours of power reserve, utilizes a free spring balance with 6 eccentric poising weights, and is proudly displayed behind the Lange 1's exhibition caseback. Like most Lange timepieces, the best part of its movement is arguably the balance-cock which is beautifully engraved by one of Lange’s master engravers. With its emphatic finishing throughout, stunning ¾ plate, charming German silver architecture, and beautifully engraved balance cock, the Cal. L121.1 is a fitting tribute to the incredible watch it powers.
I personally think this now-discontinued Lange 1 reference is en route to becoming recognized as a future classic, because when Lange first produced a Lange 1 with a blue dial (Ref. 101.027), that particular reference only remained in production for a short period of time (1997 - 2003). In similar fashion, the renewed Ref. 191.028 was also in production only for a short period of time, in fact, it was produced for only a year, which now makes this reference especially limited, rare, and sought-after by collectors around the world.
For all the reasons I have elaborated above, this Lange 1 Ref. 191.028 right here is, in my mind, a compelling masterpiece of a modern dress watch that can effortlessly complement any connoisseur’s watch box and daily rotation.