Introducing the A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon HandwerkskunstBy Sumit Nag
Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst – Ref. 703.048
“Now [in every collection] there’s almost always something that is actually over-the-top, and for me, the Handwerkskunst is just that,” shared Mr Wilhelm Schmid, CEO of A. Lange & Söhne. We were speaking on the occasion of the launch of the last watch that was done for the Handwerkskunst project in 2017, the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst.
He went on to add, “To illustrate over-the-top, [it is when] you go the last millimeter with a hundred percent, [enhancing the watch with] things you know that you cannot do at a sustainable level for every watch. You create a complicated surface, and then to master it, you create an enamel dial, which is very difficult to deal with. You put things which are even the opposite of what you usually are known for. We usually have the understatement on the watch dial and the opulence if you turn it around [to view the movement]. The Handwerkskunst is opulent from whatever angle you look at it. So that’s the difference between the Handwerkskunst and all our other watches.”
As universally lauded as Lange is, it is heartening to know that the watchmaker has made a discipline for itself to find moments in time to do things with a seemingly unfamiliar approach and challenge the limits of its own knowhow. It’s purposed itself to never rest on its laurels. And what with the year that 2020 has been, and the burst of postivity that we need to bear witness to in 2021, of what we’re capable of when the heart, mind and spirit are aligned, there is possibly no better time than now for Lange to write the next chapter of the Handwerkskunst family.
Meet the Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, a timepiece that isn’t simply the seventh Handwerkskunst timepiece, but also a reminder that Lange is all but done with the Cabaret. “You know, the Cabaret, we discontinued in 2010, or 2011,” shares the legendary, Anthony de Haas, Director of Product Development at A. Lange & Söhne. “Why? [Because] we had so many other ideas. And you’ve seen a couple of them [come to light in the time that followed]: The Grand Complication, the Zeitwerk family. We just didn’t have the capacity in that moment to continue in a decent way [to carry on producing] the Cabaret Tourbillon and the remaining family.”
He also adds, “I think rectangular watches are a niche offering [today] for any brand other than Cartier or Jaeger-LeCoultre. In the 90s, most rectangular watches still had round movements. The reason why Günther Blümlein was keen to have the Cabaret there on the day that Lange was relaunched was to show, that Lange is a manufactory: rectangular watch, rectangular movement. Since 2010 and the discontinuation of the Cabaret, however, the names in watchmaking that are known for their rectangular watches, have all progressed to produce rectangular movements for these. Regardless, the Cabaret was at that point a very small part of what we were doing and had to press pause on it to progress the many other ideas we had on the table. You know how few watches we produce in a year as it is, and just how compact our team is.”
So how did it come about that for the latest chapter of the Handwerkskunst, it was the Cabaret that was chosen as the canvas? Anthony de Haas continues, “the team who is doing the Handwerkskunst, they have many ideas with enamel and other forms of craft, and originally we were discussing these for a round watch. But I was very curious, in this time, to find out how people were likely to if we chose to bring back the Cabaret in 2021. With this in mind, I thought the Handwerkskunst platform was a viable way forward, with a small limited edition of 30-pieces.
“Of course, when we presented the idea to the sales team, they were sure that we could easily have 100 interested customers. But you have to understand that with Handwerkskunst we challenge ourselves, and numbers in terms of volumes produced are always going to be tall hurdle.”
Remember what Mr Schmid said about Handwerkskunst watches being opulent no matter what angle you observed the watch from? With the Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, you have the Lange manufacture calibre L042.1, manually wound rectangular movement that is made of untreated German silver and, is crafted and decorated to the nines, as Lange is known to do. But what about the dial?
Explains Anthony de Haas, “We had very strange things happen to us while producing the dial for the Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst. Since the two subdials are inserted, the overlap for the opening these with the tourbillon aperture was a difficult exercise in proportions and tolerances. These two subdials are white gold and rhodium, and are inserted into the dial from the back.
“Then you have the hand engraved lozenge motif in the middle before the dial contre-émail [or transparent enamel] is applied over the dial surface. Through the process of production we had dials that we thought were perfectly ready, and then two days later we’d seem them develop cracks. We had a fail rate of 50%. But doesn’t matter, we had to get the work done and are thankful that there are only 30 to commit to.”
He goes further to add about the transparent enamel applied to the dial surface saying how the Lange logo, because it’s printed on top of the enamel surface, appears to be floating when you view watch’s face from certain angles.
Movement: Lange manufacture calibre L042.1, manually wound, decorated and assembled twice by hand; three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver; tourbillon and intermediate wheel cocks engraved by hand; diamond tourbillon endstones; time indicated in hours, minutes, and subsidiary seconds; one-minute tourbillon with stop seconds; UP/DOWN power-reserve indicator; crown for winding the watch and setting the time; recessed push piece for correction of the date; 120-hour power reserve when fully wound
Case & dial: 29.5 x 39.2 x 10.3 millimetres; 950 platinum; 18-carat white gold dial in grey with hand-engraved lozenge pattern and semi-transparent enamelling; rhodiumed gold hands and appliques
Strap: Hand-stitched leather strap, black with grey seam; deployant buckle in 950 platinum
Price & limitation: Euro 315,000; 30-piece engraved, numbered limited edition
Langematik Perpetual – Ref. 310.028 & 310.037
Lange’s also using the launch window to announce two other pieces, we’ll start here with the Langematik Perpetual, which celebrates its 20th birthday in 2021 with two executions in blue. Back in 2001, when the watch was first unveiled, its list of accolades included the first and only self-winding watch to boast a perpetual calendar, Lange’s iconic outsize-date display, a ZERO-RESET function and a main corrector for simultaneously advancing all calendar displays. Here’s what takes the cake: 20 years on, the Langematik Perpetual still holds on to this mantle. And also the Langematik Perpetual is one of very few watches, that has a main corrector for simultaneously advancing all calendar displays and as well individual correctors to adjust individual calendar displays.
Movement: Lange manufacture calibre L922.1 SAX-0-MAT, self-winding; three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver with bidirectionally winding three-quarter rotor in 21-carat gold and centrifugal mass in 950 platinum, reversing and reduction gear with four ball bearings; balance cock engraved by hand; time display with hours and minutes, subsidiary seconds with stop seconds and ZERO-RESET function; perpetual calendar with date, day of the week, month, moon phase and leap year; day/night indicator; crown for winding the watch and setting the time; (recessed) main corrector for collectively advancing all calendar displays; (recessed) correctors for separately advancing the day, month and moon phase; 46-hour power reserve when fully wound
Case & dial: Diameter: 38.5 millimetres; height: 10.2 millimetres; 18-carat white gold (ref. 310.028) and 18-carat pink gold (ref. 310.037); solid silver, blue dial, with embossed grooved structure
Strap: Hand-stitched leather, dark blue; prong buckle in matching 18ct gold
Price & limitation: Euro 91,000; 50 pieces in each precious metal
Saxonia Thin – Ref. 211.088
Last on today’s list of announcements is the Saxonia Thin. The watch is presented here with a pink gold case matched with solid-silver dial coated with blue gold flux. We last saw this form of dial decoration on the Little Lange 1 Moon Phase, at Watches & Wonders 2021.
Essentially how it is achieved is by infusing molten glass with miniscule copper particles over a flame, where its intensity is gradually decreased so what you end up with is a clear substance bespeckled with the flakes of copper that play in the light to give this starry night impression. Start off with a dark blue molten and the visual effect is even more amplified.
The process in itself might sound easy enough, but the skill and knowhow necessary to execute these with flawless results and then place it on the flat surface of a solid silver dial, is not to be underestimated.
Movement: Lange manufacture calibre L093.1, manually wound; plates made of untreated German silver; balance cock engraved by hand; time displayed in hours and minutes; crown for winding the watch and setting the time; 72-hour power reserve when fully wound
Case & dial: Diameter: 40.0 millimetres; height: 6.2 millimetres; 18-carat pink gold (ref. 211.088); solid silver, coated with dark-blue gold flux that shimmers with copper particles
Strap: Seamless leather strap, shiny, dark blue; prong buckle in 18-carat pink gold
Price & limitation: Euro 25,800; 30 pieces
More information: alange-soehne.com