With headquarters located in Glashütte, Germany, A. Lange & Söhne is a cherished manufacturer of high-quality watches that has worked hard to maintain its prestigious heritage since 1845. The unique watches produced by the company are certainly towards the top of the timepiece market when it comes to pricing – but not without good reason. A. Lange & Söhne is Haute Horology at its finest, and right now is considered by horology experts to be at the highest end of watchmaking. Its timepieces offer a distinctive and distinguished style that sets it apart from Swiss brands. The A. Lange & Söhne brand has stood the test of time through some of history’s most defining moments and in recent years, has cemented itself in place among the great Swiss watch houses.
Jump to a section:
- Watch Manufacturing
- Grey Market Prices and Authorized Dealers
- Notable Models
- Notable Patrons and Owners
- Sponsorship and Collaborations
A. Lange & Söhne History
Ferdinand Adolph Lange founded A. Lange and Söhne in 1845 in Glashütte, in the German state of Saxony. Born in Dresden in 1815, Ferdinand studied watchmaking from the distinguished Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes, the maker of the famous Five-Minute Clock at Dresden’s Semperoper. After his apprenticeship, he traveled to France, Switzerland, and Britain to hone his skills. And he had a dream: to set up a watchmaking industry in Saxony. Not just a company: he started with a team of 15 apprentices, and he mentored them until they were ready – then he encouraged them to leave his company to start their own firms. Lange was greatly admired in his day and spent 18 years as the mayor of Glashütte!
The company grew exponentially: Ferdinand’s sons, Emil and Richard Lange, developed its commercial structure and made several engineering advancements, registering patents such as the power reserve indicator, improved chronometer restraints, pocket watch with minute counter, and addition of beryllium to improve the rate characteristic of balance spring.
Despite the trends of the market, the Lange company always focused on precision-built calibers made in Saxony. Following Ferdinand’s death in 1875, Richard and Emile took over the company. They would make great advances in the manufacturing and construction of watches until 1948. Richard Lange’s nephews would ease into helping run the company starting in the late 1920s and early 30s.
In the year of its hundredth anniversary, on the last day of World War II, A. Lange & Söhne’s main manufacturing building was bombed and destroyed. The company limped along from 1945 until it was nationalized in 1948 along with Glashütte’s other watchmakers. The brand disappeared until 1990, after the destruction of the Berlin wall united Germany.
In 1990, Walter Lange, the Grandson of Emile Lange) gave the company a breath of life. Walter, along with esteemed watchmaker Günter Blümlein and with the assistance of IWC and Jaeger LeCoultre, revamped A. Lange and Söhne’s manufacturing plant. Shortly after in 1992, they filed the company’s first patent in over 40 years: the outsize date. The outsize date was used in the construction of three to four watches and continues to be a distinguishing feature in many of the company’s timepiece designs. The new A. Lange and Söhne moved back into a refurbished headquarters on December 7th, 2001, and in 2007, opened their first ever boutique in Dresden. Since the new founding by Walter Lange in 1990, A. Lange and Söhne have made their entry into various stores, distributors, and jewelers around the world.
A. Lange & Söhne Watch Manufacturing
A. Lange and Söhne manufacture all their watches in their Glashütte headquarters. A. Lange
& Söhne timepieces are almost only mechanical, employing in-house calibers, with cases
made only in precious metals. The company is well-known by horologists for its complicated
watches, especially its chronographs, split-seconds chronographs, and perpetual calendars.
Design and finishing
The design philosophy of the watchmaker is based on its austere, Teutonic tradition – a design style that is considered more understated than the typical Swiss – and movements that are impeccably finished and decorated, from the basic Saxonia to the top-level pieces. The distinguishing looks of the Lange timepieces are best expressed by its more iconic collections, like the Zeitwerk and the Lange 1. These watches, which feature the big numbers that mark the design of the Lange timepieces, are directly derived from the famous Five-Minute Clock at Dresden’s Semperoper by Lange’s first master and employer, Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes.
A. Lange & Söhne has developed a large number of groundbreaking patents, both in their early years and since their revival in 1990. A few of the company’s most impactful patents in recentyears include:
Patented in 2000, the zero-set mechanism allows for quick and accurate setting of A. Lange and Söhne watches by causing the second hand of the watch to jump to zero immediately when the crown is pulled out.
Semi-Transparent Dial Coating
The semi-transparent dial coating was introduced and patented by A. Lange and Söhne in 2013. Certain features of the watches are next to impossible to indicate without a light source, such as moon phase and outsize dates. The semi-transparent dial coating features the sub dial that shows the hours and minutes that is covered by a semi-transparent tinted sapphire crystal layer that lets in just enough sunlight for features like the moon phase and outsize date to be able to read but prevents enough UV rays so that the inner components of the watch are protected.
Delayed Numerals Switching Mechanism
The delayed numerals switching mechanism was invented by A. Lange and Söhne to prevent the numeral disc of the watch from the striking mechanism while it’s at work. Without this mechanism, jumping the numerals forward could result in damage to the mechanics of the watch and could also negatively affect the movement.
Timeline of A. Lange & Söhne Patents and Innovations
While these examples are fairly recent, A. Lange & Söhne has a long history of innovation:
● 1864: Stable three-quarter plate. Invented by Ferdinand Adolph Lange, the stable three-quarter plate was an advancement to the original pocket watches he made because it replaced the separate bridges that held the arbors of the watch and improved the stability of the movement even though this advancement added to the time and effort contributed during the assembly.
● 1867: Jumping seconds hand. Ferdinand Lange also developed this mechanism for the early pocket watches. It was expanded on by his nephews, Richard and Emil, who would eventually patent the product ten years later.
● 1931: Richard Lange’s balance spring patent. This patent by Richard Lange helped to prevent the spring’s elasticity by implementing Elinvar; an alloy whose temperature doesn’t change much based on surrounding conditions which is a concept still used in high-end luxury watches to this day.
● 1997: Zero-set mechanism introduced. A. Lange and Söhne came up with this advancement which is very comparable to that of a chronograph. When the crown is pulled, the seconds hand is immediately moved to the zero position.
● 2005: Disengagement mechanism. This patent allows the split-second chronographs made by Lange to be activated without in turn seeing a lack of amplitude and also prevents a loss of friction
● 2008: Stop-seconds for tourbillon. This invention is the only way to stop the oscillating balance inside the tourbllon which allows for extremely precise time setting in watches with this complication.
● 2013: Semi-Transparent Dial Coating. The semi-transparent dial coating features the sub-dial that shows the hours and minutes that is covered by a semi-transparent tinted sapphire crystal layer that lets in just enough sunlight for features like the moon phase and outsize date to be able to read but prevents enough UV rays so that the inner components of the watch are protected.
● 2018: Triple-split chronograph. This new chronograph introduced by A. Lange and Söhne in January of 2018 can compare the times of two events of up to 12 hours of duration and can be as accurate as one-sixth of a second. This was the world’s first split-seconds chronograph that allows for more than one hour of comparative time measurements.
A. Lange and Söhne produces an average of around 5,000 timepieces yearly, which for reference, is less than 5% of the watches that Rolex manufactures. The difference is reflected in the price of the watches but also in the quality. The careful precision that goes into the production of each watch is outlined below and clearly separates A. Lange and Söhne from the rest of the watch industry in that regard.
Each watch at A. Lange and Söhne is produced using twofold assembly. Every watchmaker
that produces timepieces for the A. Lange and Söhne brand goes through the process of
assembling the timepiece, disassembling it, and then reassembling it. Part of this has to do with
the design feature of the three-quarter plate but the other reasoning behind the twofold
assembly has to do with the fact that each watch is made with German Silver. All the distinct
parts of the watch are cleaned after the piece is disassembled and many of the parts are
carefully lubricated and oiled, as well as polished and decorated.
A. Lange & Söhne Grey Market Prices and Authorized Dealers
At the start of A. Lange and Söhne’s rebirth, most of their watches would sell on the grey market for amounts that doubled or tripled the retail price. This lasted until around the early 2000s, when buyers started to pay equal or around 25% less than the original retail price until the market crash of 2008 and the years following, when the grey market prices of A. Lange and Söhne timepieces plummeted along with the rest of the world’s markets.
The grey market prices continued to drop until around 2020, when A. Lange and Söhne released the Odysseus. The Odysseyus release was a huge success, and interest in A. Lange & Söhne watches skyrocketed, along with aftermarket prices, which have steadily increased to present day.
Authorized dealers of A. Lange and Söhne watches generally fall into the category of either boutiques owned by A. Lange and Söhne, or independent dealers, both mentioned below. Boutiques usually provide a more extensive collection of A. Lange and Söhne watches but authorized dealers are authorized for a reason, usually required to carry enough watches by the brand to give buyers a decent amount of options when looking to buy.
Authorized dealers can sometimes offer discounts for watches when asked about a “price consideration” while boutiques typically have a pretty fixed price on their watches since they come straight from the manufactory. Boutiques by A. Lange and Söhne are located across the world and each of them carry a wide variety of A. Lange and Söhne watches. In addition, select independent dealers are authorized to sell A. Lange and Söhne, which include:
● Wempe Jewelers. Located in New York City, Wempe Jewelers is proud to call themselves an authorized dealer of A. Lange and Söhne.
● CJ Charles. CJ Charles Jewelers is found in San Diego, California and is glad to sell A. Lange
and Söhne timepieces as a part of their collection.
● Betteridge. Betteridge was founded in New York City and has historically been a premier dealer
of luxury watches including A. Lange and Söhne.
● CH Premier Jewelers. Found in San Jose, California, CH Premier Jewelers boasts a wide collection of luxury A. Lange and Söhne watches.
Notable A. Lange & Söhne Models
Since their rebirth in 1990, A. Lange and Söhne has been a pioneer in the advances of watch technology and have produced several limited-edition timepiece collections as detailed below.
Its current most noteworthy collections are the Lange 1, Zeitwerk, Saxonia, 1815 and Datograph which is in high demand, being the company’s chronograph series – and watch lovers have a passion for beautiful chronographs. As usual, the most diffused references are the most affordable, but in the case of Lange, even these require a hefty investment.
Type: Dress Watch
Material: Stainless Steel, Gold, Platinum
Functions: Worldtimer, Perpetual Calendar, Tourbillon
The Lange 1 line of watches was one of the first collections innovated after A. Lange & Söhne’s recreation. It is defined as “…a symbol of both tradition and innovation…” by the collection’s homepage on the A. Lange and Söhne webpage. Its design features an off-center dial layout and outsize date as well as historical Saxon-era elements such as the screw balance, three-quarter plate, and screwed gold chatons. According to the A. Lange and Söhne website, the Lange 1 Time Zone in the 18-carat pink gold edition is currently the most expensive watch they sell on their website. It currently is sold by A. Lange and Söhne for $57,800.
Type: Dress Watch
Material: Gold, Platinum
Functions: Date and Time, Jumping Hours and Minutes, Minute Repeater
The Zeitwerk is the first mechanical watch that displays hours and minutes with a jumping numerals mechanism. The watch shows a complex digital display that displays hours and seconds from left to right which certainly sets the Zeitwerk apart from other watches of this era. The time bridge is one of the more prestigious elements of the watch and is part of the innovative design that proves the Zeitwerk as one of the most advanced watches ever. The most expensive from the Zeitwerk collection is currently the limited-edition Honeycomb “Lumen” in 18-carat honey gold. It isn’t sold on A. Lange and Söhne’s website but it’s sold at various retailers for around $145,000.
Type: Dress Watch
Material: Gold, Platinum
Functions: Day / Date, Power Reserve, Chronographer, Triple Split
The name of this collection says it all as it refers to the Saxon state of Germany where A. Lange and Söhne was originally founded. The Saxonia collection features the company’s first-ever triple rattrapante mechanism. The watch itself reflects a classic display that is one of the more balanced watch faces in the watch business. The most expensive watch sold by A. Lange and Söhne from this collection is the Saxonia Moon Phase in 18-carat white gold for $34,900.
Type: Dress Watch
Material: Gold, Platinum
Functions: Date and Calendar, Chronograph, Perpetual Calendar, Grande Sonnerie, Tourbillon
The 1815 collection makes reference to the year of birth of Ferdinand Adolph Lange and the design and features of the watches in the 1815 family are all a tribute to his watchmaking style. The 1815 has a quietly bold contrast that makes the display easy to read while simple in design. While quiet, the 1815 is still built with intense attention to detail that carries the innovative mindset of A. Lange and Söhne. The 1815 Annual Calendar in 18-carat white gold edition is currently the most expensive in the collection at $48,000.
Type: Dress Watch
Material: Gold, Platinum
Functions: Hours, Minutes, Jumping Seconds, Power Reserve
The Richard Lange collection is a historical tribute that breathes a modern-day quality into a watch that was a prominent part of the 18th and 19th centuries. Most prominent timepieces in that era reflected a similar build to the Richard Lange collection and were used by high-profile individuals during that time. A. Lange and Söhne takes pride in the Richard Lange collection’s legibility and the high-quality materials and movements used to construct the watch.
Type: Sports Watch
Material: Steel, Stainless Steel
Functions: Hours, Minutes, Day and Calendar, Power Reserve
The Odysseus collection is the most high-profile of the A. Lange and Söhne brand. Designed to be worn in memorable settings, the Odysseus is rugged and water-resistant which makes it ideal for comfortable wear and is an excellent lavish take on a sports watch. The design is bold, and the watch comes available in titanium and white gold colors which makes it perfect for individuals that are prepared to stand out from the crowd.
Notable Patrons and Owners
Unlike many of its Swiss peers, A. Lange & Söhne has never had any official brand ambassadors, but its unofficial ambassadors are amongst the most respected in horology.
If you are into horology, you know who Philippe Dufour is. One of the best-known boutique watchmakers, Mr. Dufour makes amazing, unique timepieces with superb hand-finishes. Among his pieces, the entry point is the aptly named, basic three-hander “Simplicity”, which retails from $50,000 upwards. Now, quick: what kind of watch does Philippe Dufour wear? Apart from his, there is often one brand gracing his wrist: A. Lange & Söhne. Mr. Dufour, when asked why, flatly replied: “Take ten movements out of the current range of any contemporary brand, put them next to a Lange movement and comment honestly on what you see. That is the best way to judge. By examining the truth.”
World-renowned athlete and influencer Michael Jordan was seen wearing an A. Lange and Söhne Datograph during a game in which he wasn’t playing. This was back in October of 2002 in Philadelphia. Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was seen sporting an A. Lange and Söhne 1815 at the Eagles’ Super Bowl appearance in 2017.
Famous actor and film star Brad Pitt is a notable wearer of the luxury brand of A. Lange and Söhne and was spotted wearing a Lange 1 Timezone in rose gold. If you are a fan of Ed Sheeran you might have noticed his love for precious timepieces. In one of his Instagram posts, the singer displays a very prominent white gold A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk that he wore during a recent performance in Germany.
Royalty and Politicians
Bill Clinton was seen wearing a Richard Lange Pour Le Mérite at the funeral of President George Bush as well as at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in 2018. The 34th emperor of the Ottoman empire, Abdul Hamid II, was gifted an A. Lange and Söhne pocket watch by German emperor Wilhelm II in the late 19th century.
Sponsorship and Collaborations
A. Lange and Söhne has participated in a few notable sponsor relationships over the years where they have financially been benefactors to various events and organizations. A few of the most notable sponsorship activities that A. Lange and Söhne has participated in are listed below.
Horological Society of New York (HSNY)
Announced on June 6th, 2018, according to this article on the HSNY website, A. Lange and Söhne joined with the Horological Society of New York to support the public education of horology and watchmaking. The HSNY teaches about horology using lecture series, classes, and expansive horological libraries.
Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este
A. Lange and Söhne has been a proud sponsor that supports the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, which is a vintage automobile show that’s held in Italy annually. A. Lange and Söhne has been a sponsor of the show since 2012.
Salzburg Whitsun Festival
From 2006 to 2014, A. Lange and Söhne was a huge sponsor and supporter of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, which is a cultural music festival held each year in Austria. A. Lange and Söhne would display clocks around the opera house where the festival was held, supporting both their brand as well as the tradition surrounding the festival.