2014 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Lange 1, the statement making gesture that Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein introduced to the world in 1994. Despite there being a total of 4 watches launched when the brand was revived for the modern era, the Lange 1 was the undoubted star.
It was easy to understand why when the Lange 1 came into existence, since it had a visible uniqueness that could not be ignored. The off centred sub-dial containing the hour and minute hands was the first thing that one would notice, then the iconic big date, following through to the power reserve indicator and the small seconds sub dial. Each of these elements was arranged in a fashion that despite seeming all over the dial, still resonated a feeling of quiet order. In fact the design was hardly the result of a haphazard arrangement of indications, instead everything was placed in accordance to the golden ratio.
The face of the Lange 1 has gone on to become the centrepiece of the brand, and its acceptance as a horological icon is today without question. With 20 years having gone by since the Lange 1 made its debut then, it was at this year’s Watches and Wonders in Hong Kong that something fittingly unique has been released.
What we have here are five limited-edition watch pairs (in different metals and colour combinations) consisting of the Lange 1 and the Little Lange 1. 20 sets of each pair of watches will be available, making a total of 100 watches for this unique release.
The “His and Her” idea at play here is certainly an attractive one, bringing to mind thoughts of romance and commitment. Fittingly then the solid-silver dials been hand -guilloched, adding a touch of the dramatic to the more normally sober finish we’ve come to expect.
You might recall that the Lange 1 comes in at 38.5 millimetres in diameter, while the smaller Little Lange 1 comes in at 36.1 millimetres in diameter. Despite the case size difference, both come with Lange’s L901.0 manufacture calibre. The main difference with the ladies model (Little Lange 1) is how it is decorated. As you can see from the pictures below, all the ladies’ models features a precious bezel set with 64 brilliant-cut diamonds.
The sets are available in the following case/dial combinations: platinum/black, platinum/rhodié, white-gold/blue, pink-gold/argenté and pink-gold/black – See below:
Each of these different sets of the Lange 1 “20th Anniversary” is limited to 20 pairs and this is expressed by the hand-engraved “20” on the balance cock.
I am a man who loves the Lange 1, and would happily see my lady wear a matching one when she is out and about with me. Similarly, with many ladies out there already rocking all manner of horological goodness on their wrists, it stands to reason that the Little Lange 1, with its unmatched horological and aesthetic appeal will win female fans as well. Whatever the case though, to present these matching sets in this manner did come across as slightly out of character for the relentlessly technical German brand.
That being said, I was not expecting then to be so utterly charmed by the pairs of watches when I saw them side by side. In a flash of an instant, I had a realisation of why this might be. I suppose it can be said, that when a watch has reached the status of an icon, some manner of the affection felt by many of its fans must return to influence it again.
At this point, the idea of what it stands for, having been woven into the consciousness of watch lovers, demands to be changed, to evolve, to even be deconstructed. This new and utterly romantic side of the Lange 1 then is a testament to how it can be more than a pure expression of horological values, it can also evolve with the consiousness of the wearer and stand for new things.
In fact one memorable personal experience illustrates the point. Some time ago when a friend of mine brought out a Lange 1 in the midst of watch lovers the room literally fell quiet as it was passed around. This despite the presence of highly complicated watches that were considerably more expensive. Why was this so? Clearly this one watch so overwhelmed the others that all that could be expressed by the assembled crowd was reverence and love.
When that happens to any watch then, clearly its time to shake things up a bit and embrace something a little bit different. With the “His and Her” matching sets of the iconic Lange 1 then, why not?