Released in 1994 shortly after their resurgence, the Lange 1 is widely considered 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. 110.030 that I have here features a beautiful finished and carefully crafted 38.5mm white 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 white gold case is a perfect canvas for the most special aspect of this watch.
With the recent resurgence of early Lange 1’s, part of its appeal lies in the many variants that the brand produced over the years and what I can say is: there are Lange 1’s, and then there are Lange 1’s. The 110.030 Soiree certainly lies in the latter. Made in extremely low quantities, looking closer at the watch reveals that the dial is made entirely out of mother of pearl and finished off with a beautiful guilloche pattern.
The iridescent effect achieved by the mother of pearl is subtle but with the flick of the wrist, the watch reveals just how much depth lies in the dial. The guilloche certainly works to complement this effect, playing with light and reflecting accordingly.
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 mother-of-pearl dial. 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 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 occupies a place in that pantheon. On top of this, while there were quite a few variants of the Lange 1, the 110.030 Soiree sits above as one of the most desirable and rare variants.