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 had never ceased to exist all those years ago.
Offered here today is the Lange 1 Time Zone in 18-carat rose gold. First released in 2005, the Lange 1 Time Zone still is, in my opinion, one of the best-looking contemporary Lange 1s to have come out of the 2000s. It was daring, original, yet traditional in design with an extremely pragmatic complication that is the GMT function, especially in the modern context.
Measuring 41.9mm in diameter and 11mm in thickness, the 18-carat rose gold case still fundamentally retains the classic dress watch aesthetic that Lange has been known for its entire existence. It features a 3-stepped case construction with alternate finishing techniques, which contributes to a greater visual contrast when viewed up close. The flared lugs here also feature a very sensual design, with its presentation slightly stepped outwards of the case to contrast a dramatically domed bezel. We also have here a beautiful opaline silver dial that emanates a gentle glow under certain lighting conditions.
Standing out against its 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 slightly darker section of the dial. The dial features an asymmetrically positioned home time sub-dial with a small seconds display and a day-night indicator, a second-time zone sub-dial with, also a day-night indicator at 5 o'clock, and a power-reserve indicator at 3 o'clock with indicators 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. Another notable feature here is the revolving indication disc with the reference cities on the periphery of the dial, each of which represents one of 24 time zones around the world. To be clear, this is not a world timer, and unlike conventional world timer watches where reference cities are indicated stationarily on the dial, the Lange 1 Time Zone has them all meticulously placed on this specific revolving disc, which is operated via the pusher at 8 o ‘clock. Very clean and visually pleasing to see when operated, I must say.
It should be said that one of the best things about owning a Lange is the opportunity to just admire the movement. In this case, powering this complexity lies Lange's manual-wind, in-house Cal. L031.1 movement, breathtakingly displayed behind the Lange 1 Time Zone’s exhibition caseback and methodically beating away at 21,600 vph. Furthermore, the Cal. L031.1 consists of 417 intricate parts and as mentioned earlier, boasts a respectable 72-hour power reserve thanks to its twin mainspring barrels. 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, and here we have not one, but two engraved bridges for you to admire. With its emphatic Art Nouveau-like engraving/finishing throughout, the Cal. L031.1 is an incredibly fitting tribute to the incredible watch it powers.
The Lange 1 Time Zone Ref. 116.032 is an exceptional work of German horological art and undoubtedly an impressive watch that eloquently illustrates Lange’s no-compromise approach to watch design and construction. Contemporary in styling yet classical in spirit, it has been an absolute pleasure to be able to handle and now offer this beautiful piece of art on the site.