Minutes & Seconds

Rarely-seen Lange watches on display in Singapore

Rare pieces from A. Lange & Sohne, such as this pocket watch (above), are featured at the 100 Masterpieces exhibition. From top: Lange 1, Tourbillon Pour Le Merite, Arkade and 1815 Annual Calendar.
Rare pieces from A. Lange & Sohne, such as this pocket watch (above), are featured at the 100 Masterpieces exhibition. PHOTOS: A. LANGE & SOHNE
Lange 1.
Lange 1.PHOTOS: A. LANGE & SOHNE
Tourbillon Pour Le Merite.
Tourbillon Pour Le Merite.PHOTOS: A. LANGE & SOHNE
Arkade.
Arkade.PHOTOS: A. LANGE & SOHNE
1815 Annual Calendar.
1815 Annual Calendar.PHOTOS: A. LANGE & SOHNE

One hundred A. Lange & Sohne timepieces, including its old and new creations, are on show

A. Lange & Sohne is a German horological powerhouse and for good reason.

Each year, the company crafts and assembles by hand only a few thousand timepieces, boasting exclusive movements and stunning decorations, in gold or platinum.

If you are a watch lover and a Lange fan, you would do well to head down to Sincere Fine Watches at Takashimaya Shopping Centre where 100 Lange timepieces, including rare pocket watches from its archives and this year's new creations, are on exhibition.

The showcase, a world first, is titled "100 Masterpieces" and is the third instalment of a biennial watch exhibition series with a "100" theme started by Sincere four years ago.

The inaugural 100 Tourbillons exhibition in 2013 put the spotlight on that most stellar of horological inventions, while the second 100 Complications exhibition in 2015 focused on haute movements from 22 brands.

100 Masterpieces is Sincere's first mono-brand showcase and it has done well to choose Lange.

First, a short history lesson is in order. A. Lange & Sohne came into being way back in 1845 in the little town of Glashutte in Saxony, in what used to be East Germany. Once a silver mining town, it became impoverished after the mineral was depleted and after it was occupied by Napoleon's troops.

  • VIEW IT/ 100 MASTERPIECES

    WHERE: Sincere Fine Watches, 01-12 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, 391 Orchard Road

    WHEN: Till Wednesday, 10am to 9.30pm

    ADMISSION: Free

However, Ferdinand A. Lange, born in 1815, changed the fate of Glashutte when he got the support of the Saxon government to start a watchmaking workshop in 1845.

Under his, and later his descendants', stewardship, Lange became well known for producing beautifully constructed and solidly reliable clocks and pocket watches. It was also famous for the oversized wristwatches it made for the German military in the late 1930s.

Alas, World War II dealt the company a fatal blow.

Under the post-war Soviet administration, which nationalised and turned businesses and industries into collectives, Lange was shuttered. Ferdinand's great-grandson Walter Lange left Glashutte in 1948.

He returned in 1990, after German reunification and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Determined not just to resuscitate Lange, but also make it a premium watch brand, he enlisted the help of several Swiss watchmakers, including IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre.

It was no walk in the park. Walter Lange, who died earlier this year, sent employees for training in Switzerland. Everything had to be built or rebuilt from scratch.

In 1994, Lange produced its first quartet of watches - the Lange 1, Saxonia, Arkade and Tourbillon. These four watches are on display at the 100 Masterpieces exhibition.

The Lange 1, for instance, has become one of the company's most famous watches with its asymmetrical dial and outsized date indicator.

Besides proprietary movements and features such as uniform stripes (ribbing) on the unique three-quarter plates, there are other reasons pieces by the Saxon watchmaker are so sought after.

The balance cock of every Lange timepiece is engraved by hand and bears the signature of the master watchmaker who makes it.

The edges of parts in a Lange movement go through chamfering, a process which involves bevelling and polishing, also done by hand.

And every movement is assembled not once, but twice. After the first assembly, it is taken apart and cleaned before being put together again.

In just two decades, Lange has lodged itself at the top echelons of haute horology.

Mr Larry Peh, founder and creative director of design firm &Larry, is a Lange fan.

The 40-year-old owns three timepieces by the watchmaker: a Lange 1 platinum, a Lange 1 in platinum gold and blue dial as well as a Lange Datograph.

He says: "What makes Lange watches special are their attention to typography, details and a certain Germany austerity.

"If a Lange watch were a man, he would be that handsome guy who is willing to devote time to perfect his work and life."

Mr Robin Wong, who has a Lange 1 and a Lange Datograph, agrees.

The 39-year-old chief executive of Mindshare Fast, a global agency focusing on data and data-led technologies, says: "Lange watches, from entry-level ones to those with grand complications, are all consistently and beautifully finished."

Besides pocket watches and unique pieces from its archives, the 100 Masterpieces exhibition will also showcase novelties from the 2017 collection.

They include the 1815 Annual Calendar and Zeitwerk Decimal Strike in Honey Gold.

The former has a 40mm case in white or rose gold and analogue displays for the date, day of week and month as well as a moon-phase display calculated to remain accurate for 122.6 years.

The Zeitwerk Decimal Strike comes on the heels of two previous chiming versions: the Zeitwerk Striking Time, which chimes on the hour and quarter hours; and the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, which chimes after every hour, 10-minute interval and minute.

The latest version sounds the time as it appears on the digital display: in hours and 10-minute intervals. Produced in a limited edition of 100 pieces, this watch is crafted from honey gold, which is stronger than other gold alloys.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2017, with the headline 'Legacy of time on display '. Print Edition | Subscribe