Germany’s A. Lange & Söhne has been creating its own decidedly high-end version of a digital watch — that is, one that tells time via digits rather than hands — for 10 years now, and its highlight piece at this year’s WatchTime New York — taking place for the fifth straight year at Manhattan’s Gotham Hall on October 25-26 — is a new model in its groundbreaking Zeitwerk collection with an innovative date display. And yes, it’s all mechanical.
The Zeitwerk Date, first shown to the public last January at the 2019 SIHH watch salon in Geneva, represents the latest leap forward for the iconoclastic timepiece, whose design is inspired by the famous clock at Dresden’s Semper Opera House. (Dresden is the nearest large city to Glashütte, the cradle of German watchmaking and longtime home of A. Lange & Söhne.) Introduced in 2009, the original Zeitwerk was the first mechanical wristwatch with a constant-force escapement and precisely jumping digits for the hours and minutes; it has since become firmly ensconced within Lange’s portfolio of watch families, with increasingly complicated models added over the years, including the Decimal Strike chiming watch in 2017. This watch, however, is the first in the line to include any type of date display, and it is a distinctive one indeed: a ring-shaped date scale made of glass, numbered 1 – 31, encircles the dial, with the current date always highlighted in red.
The collection picks up the idea that Gabrielle wanted jewellery to be easy to wear and comfortable as expressed in this quote: ‘My (jewels) are flexible and detachable […] You can take apart the jewelry and use it to match a hat or fur. In this way, the set of jewelry is no longer an immutable object. Life transforms it and bends it to its needs.’ Gabrielle’s one and only fine jewellery collection ‘Bijoux en Diamants’ was presented in 1932, at the height of the Great Depression. A daring move and a chance for Gabrielle to bring her rebellious spirit to the most luxurious items as previously she had only designed costume jewellery.
Housed inside a 44.2 mm white-gold case — under a gray dial made of solid silver, displaying small seconds in a subdial at 6 o’clock and the traditional Saxon “Auf/Ab” power reserve display at 12 o’clock in addition to the hours and minutes apertures, the newly designed caliber beats at a frequency of 18,00 vph and amasses a power reserve of 72 hours when fully wound. Crafted to Lange’s meticulous standards, it features the hallmark elements the Saxon manufacture’savid enthusiasts have come to expect — three-quarter mainplate of untreated German silver, hand-engraved balance cock, blued screws, lever escapement, shock-resistant cam-poised balance with in-house-manufactured balance spring, to name the highlights — with the entire ensemble assembled and decorated by hand. In all, the movement is comprised of 516 components, of which an astounding 70 are jewels. On the dial, the hands are made of rhodiumed gold and the “time bridge” that connects the hours to the minutes, of rhodiumed German silver.
Credit to: Mark Bernardo
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