Following the virtually held Watches & Wonders 2020, where we contemplated new variations on the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater and the Odysseus, Lange is back with its most iconic reference, the Lange 1, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019 with 10 fabulous jubilee references. Among them, the new Time Zone in white gold with blue hands defined the anniversary series.
The name of the new Lange 1 Time Zone eloquently tells us what its mission is: to show, simultaneously, the time in different parts of the world, in addition to the local time (usually that of home). Among the changes that show its evolution, the new watch adds a setting for regions and incorporates the daylight-saving time exemptions. Naturally, as this is a watch with a new movement, it deserves further examination.
When the first Lange 1 made its debut on October 24th, 1994, along with the Saxonia, Arkade and the Tourbillon Pour Le Mérite that marked the brand’s revival led by Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein, watch lovers around the world were enthralled by its beautiful functional asymmetry. The case of the original Lange 1 had its four essential displays distributed all over the dial: the big date with the iconic double window at the one o’clock position; the power reserve on the right at three o’clock; the small running seconds at five o’clock; and the time sub-register occupying the entire western hemisphere, aligned at nine o’clock.
Presented in a 38.5mm case, the restrained proportions were ideal for all those functions, which maintained impeccable legibility within the dial. Right from the beginning, that remarkable aesthetic granted the Lange 1 some very generous real estate in the pantheon of the greatest designs in watchmaking. And such was its impact that curiosity about how additional complications could be integrated into this unusual signature began to rise. Today, we know that in Lange 1, the Saxon watchmaker has been able to do everything, including adding large complications to create some of the most spectacular watches in modern history.
The Lange 1 Time Zone does not aim to take away such a degree of attention, but to present itself as an intelligent, modern and functional offer. The values of efficiency and readability of the Lange 1 were presented in the original Time Zone of 2005, fully respecting the shapes of the original watch of 1994, and today they find new radiance — and genuine usefulness — in the year 2020.
Coming back to the watch, it is remarkable how much information we find in it, as well as the way in which we can easily adjust the indication of the time and the date, by means of the pushers on the case.
On the asymmetrical dial, the Lange 1 Time Zone watch offers two registers to display the time, usually the home time at nine o’clock and the reference time at five o’clock, the large date and the classic UP/DOWN power-reserve gauge. The ring with the names of the cities can rotate and its system allows for a convenient adjustment of the second time. Conveniently, when adjusting the time with the crown, the two dials are corrected simultaneously.
By now, you must have already noticed those little blue semicircles, printed inside their own rotating discs within the hourly displays. This seemingly minor detail is another of the great innovations of the new Lange 1 Time Zone. These are the new indicators for day and night, independent for each time zone.
Together with the hour hand, they inform the user whether the time indication applies to the first or second half of the day. The day/night indicators are not only perfectly designed and integrated, but they are also as understandable as they are legible. Their technical and aesthetic concept is ingenious: the discs turn once in 24 hours while the hour hands make the two usual revolutions in the same period.
When the hands “sweep” over the blank segment, they show that it is daytime, sometime between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (for example, the picture shows local time 1:52 p.m. which would correspond to Central Europe because the reference time, 7:52 a.m. highlights New York in daylight saving time; we will explain this later). Consequently, the blue segment which marks 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shows the nighttime.
Yet another great detail of the Lange 1 Time Zone is the innovative indicator for the daylight-saving time, functional in the cities where it applies. This lies in the small opening in the golden arrow that at five o’clock points out the city of reference. If the opening appears in red, the city indicated by the figure is on its daylight-saving season. If only a standard time applies to the city throughout the year, the display appears with a clear background. This is implemented with a coding at the city ring.
The time zone-setting system preserves the effectiveness of the previous iteration of this timepiece. When you press the corrector pusher at eight o’clock, the city ring jumps from west to east through a time zone. At the same time, the hour hand on the small subsidiary dial advances one hour and now indicates the time of the highlighted time zone. Neat.
The Lange 1 Time Zone’s new L141.1 caliber offers one more useful feature: the synchronization of both time displays, which allows the time to be transferred from the smaller to the larger time dial. This is useful when the user wishes to swap the times on the two sub-registers. If the crown is pulled out to the second position, the times of both time zones can be adjusted synchronously. But in the process, if the eight o’clock pusher is pressed and held, the hour hand for the reference time zone will remain in position. Now, the newly set main time can be adjusted independently of the time in the reference city. Finally, it may be necessary to correct the date and this is done with the pusher at the 10 o’clock position.
With the L141.1 movement, all models of the Lange 1 watch family that were originally based on the L901 caliber now carry new hearts. Compared with the predecessor model, the 72-hour power reserve is achieved with just one barrel. Other technical details include a classic screwed-down balance wheel and a free sprung balance wheel spiral calibrated for a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour. The aesthetic perfection with which Lange makes its watches shine could not be lacking. Lange quality signatures, such as the three-quarter plate made of German silver, screwed-in gold chatons, blued screws, a whiplash precision index adjuster as well as the hand-engraved balance wheel cock and the intermediate wheel cocks are visible through the sapphire caseback. The handcrafted decoration of the movement, which is assembled and disassembled twice before being permanently installed, reflects the high standard of A. Lange & Söhne in every detail.
What in itself is considered a simple, day-to-day, useful complication such as the indication of a second time zone, A. Lange & Söhne has transformed and brought to new levels of innovation and aesthetics. It is clear that even the most iconic and supposedly untouchable model in the collection will always find a way to adapt and improve. The beautiful and awesome Lange 1 Time Zone kind of shows us that mankind is not necessarily doomed.
Manual-winding caliber L141.1; hours and minutes; small seconds; big date; local and reference time displays with their respective day/night indicators; daylight saving time; 24 time zones on rotating ring; 72-hour power reserve
41.9mm; 18K white, pink or yellow gold; water-resistant to 30m
Hand-stitched alligator leather with matching prong buckle