Just be patient to join an elite club

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 March, 2013, 3:54pm

It's not just about the €2 million (HK$20.48 million) price tag. Ownership of an A. Lange & Söhne Grand Complication provides entry into an elite club of six, the number of models that will be made. Even then, buyers face a one-year wait before delivery of a watch that was unveiled at this year's SIHH.

Tino Bobe, director of research and development, believes it will be well worth the wait. Bobe worked on it for seven years - the longest he has spent working on a single watch since he joined the brand in 1999.

"Normally, I'd feel like [I was] looking back into the past at product launches as I would be working on models that wouldn't be released [for another] two or three years," he says. "This time it's different. I feel it's the biggest thing that we can achieve."

The Grand Complication, which Bobe describes as the most complicated wristwatch the brand has created, drives calibre L1902 - the four digits indicate the birth year of the pocket watch that inspired the timepiece.

Within its 50mm pink gold case beats the movement of complications, including a chiming mechanism, minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph with minute counter and jumping seconds, and a perpetual calendar with a moon-phase display.

Among all the complications, Bobe reckons its acoustic time indication is the most challenging. "This complication opened a door for us to acoustic time indication," he says. The model features an impressive chiming mechanism that automatically indicates the time in grand-strike or small-strike mode.

Its chronograph and perpetual calendar showcase state-of-art watchmaking from the town of Glashütte near Dresden in the eastern German state of Saxony.

The monopusher chronograph with rattrapante function and jumping seconds is activated by a push piece on the top left of the case flank, while another pusher on the top right controls the split seconds hand.

Despite the complex construction, its hand-polished finish also adds to the challenge, resulting in a one-year wait before delivery - the polishing steps alone require more than a month of manual labour.

For those who can't wait, the brand unveils an 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar, which runs on Calibre L101.1, consisting of 631 parts. It features complications including a rattrapante chronograph with minute counter, perpetual calendar, moon-phase display and its iconic UP/DOWN power-reserve indicator, fashioned with traditional details such as classic Arabic numerals and railway-track minute scale. The 41.9mm case comes in platinum and pink gold.

Its power-reserve indicator, which Bobe sees as one of the most useful complications, is also adapted to a subdial on 1815 UP/DOWN, which refers to Ferdinand A. Lange's year of birth, is available in pink gold, yellow gold and white gold.

Bobe says the 1815 collection and Grand Complication pay homage to the tradition of a brand that has been in operation since 1845. "We know the generations before us did really great work and now it's our task to carry on the legacy and develop it further," he says. A. Lange & Söhne updated its Grand Lange 1 at SIHH, with a luminous display, named it "Lumen" and limited it to 200 pieces. Otherwise hidden details, such as the perlage (surface decoration) on the date plate and the outsize date disc configuration, are visible on the semi-transparent sapphire crystal dial, as it was designed to charge the outsize date with ultraviolet light.