Nearly every watch brand has at least one chronograph within its collections, but such is the complexity and cost of a mechanical rattrapante – the split-seconds chronograph – that only a relative handful offer it. And of these, A. Lange & Söhne can be said to stand head and shoulders above much of the rest for producing some of the most technically innovative and capable of rattrapantes, which also become a canvas for demonstrating the Glashütte manufacture’s mastery of the decorative arts.
Even as the highest-skilled watchmakers would be quite content grappling with the dizzying complexity of a rattrapante, A. Lange & Söhne went further to release the Double Split in 2004, the first of its kind in the history of watchmaking that enhanced the versatility and ease of use of the traditional rattrapante by adding a minute counter for the split timing. A heap of complexity was needed to add that second minute counter, to the tune of 100 additional movement components in that tiny space of a watch case. One supposes that the logical progression would be to evolve from “double” to “triple”. In fact, that would be most illogical bordering on insane, when considering the eye-watering complexity needed to effect such a thing. But the company did it anyway, presenting the Triple Split in 2018, capable of split timings up to 12 hours, requiring 567 movement parts in the caliber L132.1. In between, A. Lange & Söhne also combines the rattrapante with other famously difficult complications, from the perpetual calendar to minute repeater.
Having done the ultra-high complication circuit, it is perhaps timely to get back to the simpler pleasure of a pure rattrapante. The 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold was released in 2020 as one of three “Homage to F. A. Lange” watches to commemorate the 175th anniversary of A. Lange & Söhne, featuring a black dial with the honey gold case, limited to 100 pieces. This July, the manufacture is following this with a new version, the 1815 Rattrapante, in platinum with silvered dial.
As part of the 1815 collection, named for the birth year of the company’s founder Ferdinand Adolph Lange, the 1815 Rattrapante is classically styled after vintage Lange pocket watches, with Arabic numerals for the hours and railway-track minute scale on the periphery, bordered by a tachymeter scale on the outermost. At first glance, the dial layout sets the 1815 Rattrapante apart from the bulk of the bicompax ratrappantes and chronographs in the field, courtesy of the vertical arrangement of its minute counter and small seconds on the dial-face.
This custom arrangement is made possible by the use of a custom movement. According to the company, this vertical arrangement gives the 1815 Rattrapante a “balanced and expressive personality”. It does lend the watch a subtle sleekness and sprightliness.
The 1815 Rattrapante is driven by the 365-part L101.2 which relies on two column wheels to orchestrate the complex switching operations required to track overall and lap times, splitting the hands on demand, and bringing them together again at the close of the timed event. The dance of gears and levers in the manual-wind L101.2 can be seen through the sapphire caseback. As we have come to expect of A. Lange & Söhne, the clean, ascetic dial display is starkly contrasted on the reverse by the lush decoration worked onto the movement: gold chatons held by heat-blued screws, hand-engraved balance cock, expanse of ribbing on the plates, and straight graining on the upper surfaces of moving components outlined by polished chamfers is nothing short of a sumptuous feast for the eyes.
There’s no date, no day, moon phase, just a competent and beautiful chronograph with a split hand. And that’s the whole point. The 1815 Rattrapante is available globally in a limited edition of 200 pieces.
Movement: Manual-wind L101.2, beat rate of 3Hz, composed of 365 parts, power reserve of 58 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, split-seconds chronograph with minute counter, tachymeter scale
Case: 41.2mm x 12.6mm, platinum, display back,
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with platinum buckle