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
A realm where technology meets art: the decorating department
As delicate as the work they execute: tools used in 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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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
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
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
A feast for the eyes of horology buffs: the movement of the Double Split Chronograph exhibits peerless craftsmanship