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A. Lange & Söhne releases limited edition time-only Richard Lange ‘Pour le Mérite’

Known for their attention to detail, the manufacture produces a commanding timepiece that concentrates on delivering time in hours, minutes and seconds

Apr 08, 2017 | By Ashok Soman
The A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange “Pour le Mérite”

The A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange “Pour le Mérite”

There are time-only watches and there are watches that are just about time. The A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange “Pour le Mérite” is the latter sort, cutting out all excess to deliver hours, minutes, and seconds. The danger with such a timepiece and there are many on offer is that it ends up looking too plain. Given that this is an A. Lange & Söhne watch, this is not a worry. Even without the “Pour le Mérite” status, it is still a commanding timepiece.

Leaving aside this particular Richard Lange model’s special status, the watch needs more than a superlative movement and brilliant finishing to succeed. This is where the manufacture’s close attention to detail shines.

Take for example, the use of both Roman and Arabic numerals on the main dial. The Glashütte-based watchmaker opts for Arabic numerals in a red font to track minutes. This is a purely aesthetic decision because these numerals are too small for casual use. If one is setting the time though, the placement of Roman numerals at 12, three, six and nine o’clock helps centre the eye. More impressive is the way the sub-dial and brand name, occupying opposite ends of the watch, work off each other. Just imagine a grid on the dial and this will become clearer. Much thought has gone into this design, including the length of the hands and just how much of the numerals or markers they cover as they travel across the dial.

This attention to detail is obvious once the watch is turned over because that is where the “Pour le Mérite” bit comes into play. A. Lange & Söhne uses this distinction when it comes to its most technically sophisticated timepieces. Yes, we are deliberately avoiding the word “complication” because this is a time-only watch, albeit one that is equipped with the fusée-and-chain system. Basically, this is a power transmission mechanism that ensures a steady and regular flow of power from the mainspring to the balance spring via the going train. In movements without such a system, the reduced torque from the unwinding mainspring typically has deleterious effects on the balance.

The timepiece's manual winding Calibre L044.1 with fusée and chain

The timepiece’s manual winding Calibre L044.1 with fusée and chain

Most regular watches and normal brands do without this system because the chain alone here is made up of 636 components, thus adding untold complexity to the system. For A. Lange & Söhne, it is worth repeating that said chain is hand-assembled and finished. Some of you might recall that the manufacture famously assembles, disassembles and reassembles its movements and the same is true of the fusée-and-chain system. The amount of handwork involved here is, needless to say, exceptional.

Also needless to point out is the level of finishing evident with the manual-winding calibre L044.1. The wide stripes on the three-quarter plate and the elaborately engrave balance cock alone are enough to indicate to even horology novices that this is an A. Lange & Söhne movement. The Richard Lange “Pour le Mérite” is a limited edition of 218 pieces.

Specifications

Movement Manual-winding Calibre L044.1 with fusée and chain
Power Reserve 36-hour power reserve
Case 40.5 millimetres in white gold
Strap Hand-stitched alligator leather
Price S$118,500

This article was originally published in WOW.