Home Watches Going Behind the Scenes of A. Lange & Söhne’s Watchmaking Facility

Going Behind the Scenes of A. Lange & Söhne’s Watchmaking Facility

Going Behind the Scenes of A. Lange & Söhne’s Watchmaking Facility

For our first go to exterior Switzerland this challenge, and the primary one in Legacy total, we’ll take a second to deal with some behind-the-scenes work. In a problem like this one, the place a large number of producer visits are arrayed earlier than you, pricey reader, our aim is to make all of it as participating as attainable. Usually, we don’t fear about how one story follows the subsequent, so long as there’s a customary. For instance, the only factor is to go along with alphabetical order. In case you have gotten this far, then you definitely already know we’ve got not finished this. What we’ve got finished is separated the Swiss manufacturers from the others, though in apply there may be nothing to set them aside when it comes to high quality. In fact, this isn’t to say that Grand Seiko and A. Lange & Söhne are in any respect the identical, any greater than all manufactures are the identical. Because of this, this appears nearly as good a spot to pause and take inventory as any.

To start with, it won’t have escaped your consideration that each one however one among these tales is written by me. In itself, that elevates the chance that every manufacture story would undergo from a sure sense of ‘sameness,’ and this isn’t what we would like for Time Stamps. As famous beforehand, we deserted any concept of standardising this sequence of articles, simply as a sensible matter. Much better that every story stand out for its personal virtues, regardless of the deficiencies of the author. In that sense, the largest takeaway from the Glashütte manufacture of A. Lange & Söhne is that it embodies the spirit of a whole watchmaking area and philosophy.

Watchmakers right here in all probability studied no less than a part of their craft right here, if not all of it. In contrast to the Swiss, German and Japanese manufacturers have to coach their very own folks, with out the good thing about a whole ecosystem. Manufacturing Director Tino Bobe by no means fails to remind us that A. Lange & Söhne requires ability ranges which might be merely unimaginable to search out, exterior Switzerland, and thus is obliged to run intensive apprenticeship programmes. On this explicit go to, we received to fulfill lots of the younger individuals who make up the core of the watchmaking group right here, apart from the same old acquainted faces, together with Arnd Einhorn, Head of International Company Communication.

From Scratch

Even a well-visited and documented website can reveal new issues as we found on the one manufacture the place we didn’t see CNC machines. They very a lot did exist, within the basement, however there are just a few watchmaking corporations the place nobody expects to see such up to date equipment. They’re simply as vital right here as wherever, provided that A. Lange & Söhne sometimes produces new calibres for each new case and positively for each new household. The manufacture has delivered at least 71 calibres because it was reestablished in 1990, and this stage of creation, let’s assume, requires precision engineering for high quality assurance. Bear in mind as soon as once more that each one of those calibres, particularly distinctive watch households such because the Zeitwerk, must be built-up from scratch, and that features creating the abilities to make them. Impressively, this covers each the abilities and know-how wanted to make hairsprings in-house.

In numerous methods, this was the definitive manufacture that helped form the construction of each story in Time Stamps, in addition to the Dialog on the very topic of manufactures. This tour, relatively completely different in kind than these organized within the Earlier than Instances, takes us all by way of double meeting (the Lange 1); problems (Datograph Up/Down); and Zeitwerk (time-only). Whereas earlier excursions have included classes on grand problems and engraving, this time we’ve got a hands-on session with an try at engraving a steadiness cock. Whereas we didn’t see or hear in regards to the Odysseus this time, we did be taught that the group that works on the bottom Odysseus additionally works on the Lange 1. Product Improvement Director Anthony de Haas notes that to make extra Odysseus watches, A. Lange & Söhne must make fewer Lange 1 items. He’s adamant that one assortment won’t undergo for the sake of one other. In no small measure, de Haas and the watchmakers right here, with their cheerful but typically cheeky takes on their work, satisfied this author that each manufacture story on this challenge needed to be completely different.

Regardless of this dedication to variation, we be aware for the document that the Glashütte manufacture remains to be in a lot the identical state because it was in 2019, which is to say that no new buildings have been added. There are nonetheless two wings – the previous dwelling of founder Ferdinand Adolph Lange and his unique manufacturing constructing, after which a a lot newer facility only a quick stroll away. The historic constructing homes workplaces, welcomes company, and can also be the place the brand new watchmakers prepare – every annual batch of aspiring watchmakers numbers roughly 20.

German Silver

Many of the watchmaking motion takes place within the up to date constructing that was opened in 2015, and that is additionally the place we spent most of our time. It’s a multi-winged facility that covers roughly 5,400 sqm, which we’ve got coated beforehand when it first opened and in our tales on sustainability in watchmaking as a result of the complete manufacturing facility is carbon-neutral. That is largely due to geothermal power, and demonstrates outstanding foresight on the a part of the model and its proprietor, Richemont.

Foresight was additionally vital within the determination to make use of double-assembly at A. Lange & Söhne. The Glashütte watchmaker is probably most well-known for this course of, with even its promoting leaning into it. In fact, de Haas is sanguine in regards to the realities of double-assembly, telling us that A. Lange & Söhne is definitely not the one model to make use of this course of and that utilizing it’s a matter of practicality relatively than of storytelling. “We tried doing single meeting and it was a catastrophe,” stated de Haas. “In actual fact, it made us slower relatively than sooner.” This comes all the way down to A. Lange & Söhne’s determination to make use of German silver for its plates and bridges. This materials is notoriously vulnerable to oxidation and thus have to be dealt with fastidiously. On the Lange 1 second meeting demonstration, we realized that some parts, such because the screws, are literally changed at this stage; the second meeting is the place the blued metal screws go in, with the short-term screws used within the first stage recycled.

Ending is a deeply vital a part of the A. Lange & Söhne expertise and it’d shock you to be taught that some ornamental steps are left until till the second meeting after the calibre is disassembled and all elements are cleaned (in an ultrasonic bathtub). The signature three-quarter plate of the Lange 1 – a Glashütte signature that one finds in just about all of the calibres at A. Lange & Söhne – get the Glashütte stripes utilized solely on the second meeting stage. Once more, that is necessitated by the model’s use of German silver, which de Haas, Bobe, and others won’t ever ditch due to its luster and character.

Visceral Expertise

The watchmaking classes continued with demonstrations and explanations of problems, the place we noticed the comparatively easy Datograph Up/ Down. However, the knowledge on the inside workings of the chronograph all made their means into our big (and ongoing) chronograph explainer sequence. If there may be one chronograph that we’d have appreciated to get below the microscope right here (actually, as you may see) it must be the Odysseus Chronograph, just because we get numerous questions on this watch. It was to not be on this event however seeing the workings of a lateral clutch chronograph up shut, with simply the motion, is revelation sufficient.

Area is a premium in these tales, and each phrase now’s taking away from the photographs we received on this tour. A. Lange & Söhne was one among three producers that had a photographer accompany us, therefore you see me and Ruckdee in a few of these pictures, however I digress. Our final theoretical lesson was with the Zeitwerk division, the place we’ve got realized some spectacular data – a few of which we’re unable to share. However, for those who do have an opportunity to go to the producer, do hearken to what the manufacturing folks themselves should say. It’s each revelatory and likewise heartening, which could shock a few of you, pricey readers.

As ordinary, the Zeitwerk workshop featured extra explanations and a visceral expertise too since guests are given the possibility to really feel the now-legendary mainspring of the motion. For the document, that is essentially the most highly effective mainspring within the A. Lange & Söhne assortment – sure the Lange 31 has the longest energy reserve however it is usually the longest spring. For the Zeitwerk, the spring is the strongest of all. A manufacture go to might be the one time you’ll ever see the springs on this state, together with the regulating organs of the fixed pressure system.


In fact, it might not be a producing go to at A. Lange & Söhne with out one thing hands-on, which is what we received with a day with the engravers. This isn’t my favorite exercise, which is a vital fourth-wall break right here, as I’ve finished this quite a few instances and haven’t improved; motion meeting although, I’ve observed an enchancment. Here’s what I can inform you about this craft: it takes a gentle hand that may apply a level of constant pressure. The engraver’s instruments look just about alike, with a wicked-looking metal tip connected to a bulbous wood deal with that’s meant to take a seat within the palm of your hand. You apply pressure along with your hand and supply a measure of stability along with your thumb and finger. You possibly can nearly make this out within the picture right here.

Whereas such actions are usually not actually meant to show a lot of something, they do supply a way of the ability of the craftsperson. Clearly, the younger chap who was main us was each critical about his work, but fairly carefree – there was no stress pressure wherever on his particular person, besides maybe when addressing a room crammed with grumpy amateurs. Importantly, the engraving session displays how a steadiness cock would actually be engraved. It’s finished by hand, with the half secured in a clamp, simply as you see. Think about what occurs if you etch away an excessive amount of materials and it will lend some further heft to the duty.

Watchmaking is certainly weighty, as A. Lange & Söhne demonstrates with every of its watches, not solely to those that have seen the work up shut. Whereas human beings are usually not chopping out the steadiness cocks from blocks of steel (a activity higher left to precision devices) however solely people can add magnificence to a chunk of steel. We proceed to hope that watch fans won’t ever lose sight of the truth that such efforts are made for all of us. We’re the one ones who care sufficient to note.

This text first appeared on WOW’s Legacy 2024 challenge.

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