When A. Lange & Söhne first introduced the Little Lange 1 in 1998 with a smaller 36.1 mm case size upon request from an Asian retailer (it may have been a customer), the watch complemented a range that had been introduced with the launch of the Arkade at the brand’s legendary first presentation in 1994: fine watchmaking for ladies. Styled in the same manner as the Lange 1 but suitably sized for the fairer sex, it was easily perceived as a statement from the brand on equality. Why shouldn’t there be a sophisticated, impressively engineered watch that a lady could wear to the office? The growth of the female watch collector’s market has only broadened further in the last two decades, prompting the watchmaker to continue to extend the Little Lange 1 line.
The Little Lange 1 Moon Phase
The idea of a Lange 1 that was developed and designed with women in mind is a bit of a misnomer, as Anne Schaal, managing director of A. Lange & Söhne SEA and Australia explains. It was really a watch that was designed “for anyone who preferred a smaller case size, or who wanted a technically sophisticated watch for the evening or simply because a smaller watch looked more stylish.” To be fair, Lange has a large number of female admirers, many of whom love and deeply appreciate the incredible timepieces and technical sophistication of the brand, but perhaps wanted a different kind of ladies’ watch. This was particularly true in the noughties, as watchmaking seemed to pursue larger and larger watch cases.
The new Little Lange 1 introduced in 2014 was developed as a more compact version of the Lange 1, but with a more stylishly inclined target group in mind. Schaal points out that it’s been almost 20 years since the Little Lange 1 was developed, and a decade since the first Little Lange 1 Moon Phase was presented, with an iridescent mother-of-pearl dial. “We’ve always experimented with colours and materials for dials, and with the Little Lange 1 we’ve worked with blues and greys, but in 2014, we created limited-edition sets of the Lange 1 and the Little Lange 1 with different-coloured guilloched dials for the 20th anniversary of the Lange 1, and it was a great success. We wanted to build on this further.”
Part of the challenge was also how Lange could preserve and maintain its identity as a watchmaker, while adding a touch of glamour to the product without diminishing its technical value as a watch. (Read: the brand didn’t want to simply pile diamonds onto a smaller case and call it a ladies’ watch.) Thus, as Lange began to develop the caliber 121 series for the Lange 1, it was only a matter of time until the Little Lange 1 would also be equipped with the new movement.
After the successful launch of the Little Lange 1 in 2014 with guilloche and satin dials, as well as alligator leather straps with a pearlised colour, the Little Lange 1 Moon Phase was introduced in 2017 as a follow-up. The Lange 1 Moon Phase’s caliber 121.3 added 70 components for the moon phase and day/night display over the standard 121.1. However, the size of the Little Lange 1 (now at 36.8 mm in diameter) meant the brand could not fit the day/night function in the watch. Setting the moon-phase display within the small seconds counter, the brand refined the movement into the 121.2 and kept the moon phase display’s background synonymous with the main dial for harmony.
Schaal adds that the Little Lange 1 Moon Phase allows female customers a very easy way to discover more about the brand, and thus develop greater interest in the creations of the Glashütte watchmaker. “Because our guilloched dials are crafted in gold, not all colours work well, so we’ve had to pick and choose which are the colour palettes that work best for the watches. But it’s really important for us that the watches we create are technically sophisticated and that the people who wear them have the opportunity to see and appreciate the work we’ve put into them. I think there are a lot of women out there, myself included, who love mechanical watches and who don’t necessarily need to have a gem-set timepiece at all. And just as there are women who love larger timepieces, there are men who prefer smaller ones and who appreciate the Little Lange 1s we’ve created.”
The Little Lange 1 Moon Phase “25th Anniversary”
This month, the Little Lange 1 Moon Phase will be the ninth watch in the set of ten special-edition timepieces released by Lange to commemorate the silver anniversary of the Lange 1. Dressed in white gold with an argenté dial in solid silver and blued hands, the standout detail on the watch is the moon phase display, which has been engraved by hand to make it even more outstanding. Lange’s moon phase complication is particularly sought after for its 122.6 years of accuracy, and this feat is maintained with the Little Lange 1. On the movement, the balance cock has been engraved with the 25th anniversary logo.
The added details on the Little Lange 1 Moon Phase “25th Anniversary” edition demonstrate how the brand has been careful to give its ladies’ watches a touch of the unique, while maintaining its design values. That takes a gentle hand to achieve, one that’s evident today.