A. Lange & Söhne

Flashback 2008: Inside A. Lange & Söhne, A Pictorial

A. Lange & Söhne

Flashback 2008: Inside A. Lange & Söhne, A Pictorial

What goes into a Lange timepiece? Ingenuity, Patience, craftsmanship, precision, expertise… and a dedication to perfection. While dusting off DVDs (what on earth are these?!) of archived Revolution issues, we chanced upon these photographs taken by then Revolution photographer Josh Hu that we feel convey these very values, without words. They were taken during a team visit to the Lange manufactury in Glashütte, Germany, sometime in 2008. Much has changed since, we’re told; but not the essential, intangible values that lie beneath these images.

Archimedes calculating machines – mechanical calculators of a bygone era – were once made in the main building now called the Lange II. It accommodates the reception office, the showroom, and parts production departments.

Decoration & Initial Assembly

Embellishment of movement parts are done by hand. Edges are chamfered; some plates, levers and wheels are grained; and some polished to a mirror shine. Small balance cocks are engraved by hand by master engravers. Then comes the initial assembly of the movement, to make sure that the mechanisms work, and minute adjustments made to perfect its screw balance.

A realm where technology meets art: the decorating department

As delicate as the work they execute: tools used in the decorating department

Chamfering is the manual beveling and polishing of the edges of metal parts

The circumference of a bridge is meticulously grained under a magnifying glass

One small part turns each Lange timepiece into a unique piece of art: the hand-engraved balance cock

The first assembly of the movement ends with the integration of all subsystems

Finishing & Reassembly

After calibration of the parts, the movement is taken apart again to remove any dust or debris that may have been accidentally introduced during the adjustment stage. All the parts that were not decorated prior to the first assembly are now given their finishing touches – surfaces are engraved, stippled, guillochéd, or black-polished. Such pride is taken in the finishing of these masterpieces that even the parts which won’t be visible after the movement has been completely assembled, are also decorated.

Before the final assembly, all parts are sorted out on a glass plate

To minimize friction, special oils and greases are applied on all bearings and functional surfaces

The preassembled oscillation system being inserted into the movement

The movement plates are adorned with perlage, even in places that are not visible in the assembled movement

The three-quarter plate is decorated just before reassembly

Completion & Testing

The finished parts of the movement are reassembled, and the rest of the watch – unit discs, pushers, dials and hands – are added. Over several weeks, the completed watch is then mounted in an orbital watch winder, which simulates wearing conditions. Each day, the watch is checked to ensure that all its mechanisms are functioning, and its rate accuracy measured. Fine adjustments are made such that the maximum rate deviation is between -3 to +7 seconds a day.

The hallmark of each Lange watch: the hand-engraved balance cock with a whiplash precision index adjuster

A personalized Lange watch is fitted with a precious metal back that displays an engraved motif

Complications such as the perpetual calendar are particularly tricky to assemble

Functional test of a LangeMatik-Perpetual — one push of the button updates the date, the day of the week, the month, and the moon phase

The hand-engraved balance and intermediate cock of a Lange 1 Time Zone

The Lange 1 Tourbillon, launched in 2000 in a limited edition of 150 in platinum and 250 in pink gold

The tourbillon bridge, cage, and diamond endstone of the Lange 1 Tourbillon

After setting the hands, the movement of the Double Split Chronograph is encased in its “house” made of platinum

A feast for the eyes of horology buffs: the movement of the Double Split Chronograph exhibits peerless craftsmanship