You are looking at over $100,000 worth of exquisite watchmaking, not from Switzerland but from Saxony, the horological heartland of Germany. It was here in 1845 that Ferdinand Adolphe Lange established his eponymous watch manufacture in Glasshütte and singlehandedly created what is today a thriving watchmaking community.
The Zeitwerk was first introduced in 2009 and the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Striking Time was launched two years ago. A striking mechanism is considered the pinnacle of watchmaking, and the Zeitwerk is simply one of the best examples.
What is particularly eye-catching about this timepiece is the large black dial with silver hands, and the extra large – in fact oversized – hour and minutes mechanical/digital, old/new time windows at 9 and 3 o’clock. This concept of mechanical/digital watches started with Lange with its founder Ferdinand Adolphe Lange, who crafted the similar “5 Minute Clock” for a German Opera House as far back as 1841, prior to his involvement in establishing Glasshütte and Germany’s premier watch making center.
The highly individual digital display is inspired by the famous Semper Opera House clock in nearby Dresden. Digital display in an intricately mechanical watch such as the Zeitwerk certainly created something of a stir in the world of haute horlogerie design.
The striking time is a masterwork of harmony in design, both internally and externally. From the outside, the hammers integrate perfectly below the numeric displays. You can be in complete confidence that every last blued screw in this beautiful timepiece has been painstakingly, flawlessly considered and assembled. F.A. Lange would have expected nothing less. The watch features an imposing 44mm 18kt white gold case. On the case back is a see-through sapphire crystal to wonder at the workings of this mechanical marvel.
The striking mechanism creates an automatic chime on the hour and at each quarter hour mark. This chiming sound announces the quarter-hours with a clear, rich high-pitched tone and the full hour with lower-pitched tones. The low pitched tone is the melody of Beethoven’s ever popular Symphony No 5.
When the large, highly legible number discs advance an internal energy force is unleashed with sufficient reserve for the chiming mechanism to create tension in the springs so as to release the black polished steel hammers in the Striking Time. The hammer on the left strikes the hours while the hammer on the right strikes the quarter hours, creating the comforting notion of a homely striking clock worn on your wrist. If you don’t want the striking mechanism to sound you can simply press the push piece at 4 o’clock and it will silence the striking hammers.
The manufacture calibre L043.2 housed within the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Striking Time meets the impeccable standards one has come to associate with A. Lange & Söhne, including signature lavish manual decoration of all movement parts, expert polishing even on parts that will never be viewed except by the watch repairer, and the balance wheel with eccentric poising weights and Lange’s proprietary balance spring.
The 44.2mm watch comes in white gold at a starting price of $90,800. There is also a 100-piece limited edition platinum case with rhodium dial priced at $111,400. In the world of high-end watches, there are certainly more expensive timepieces, but seldom will you find more intricate mechanical genius for your money, or a more eye catching and imaginative digital/mechanical display.
Due to the cost and the relative rarity of this masterwork the clever people at A. Lange & Sohne have faithfully recreated a free screensaver, complete with chimes on the quarter hour and chimes for the hour for those who merely wish they could own the real thing. Bu it’s not really about money. An A. Lange & Sohne timepiece is designed to be handed down from generation to generation, so this watch could still be ringing in the hours for the delight of your grandson many years from now.
Lange manufacture caliber: L043.2
Number of parts movement/jewels: 528/78
Screwed gold chatons: 2
Escapement: Lever escapement
Case measures: Diameter: 44.2 millimeters, Height: 13.1 millimeters
Movement measures: Diameter: 36.0 millimeters, Height: 10.0 millimeters
Case versions: platinum, white gold
Power reserve: More than 36 hours when fully wound
Oscillator: Shock-resistant glucydur balance with eccentric poising weights; balance spring manufactured in-house with patent-pending attachment system (balance spring clamp), frequency 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour, precision beat adjustment system with lateral setscrew and whiplash spring.
Functions: Hours and minutes in a jumping numerals display. A visibly configured striking mechanism chimes once for the quarter-hours and the full hours. Subsidiary seconds dial. UP/DOWN power-reserve indicator. Stop-seconds mechanism.
More resources about the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Striking Time on the Official A. Lange & Söhne Website.