First of all, congratulations on the sale of the steel 1815 ‘Homage to Walter Lange’ at the Phillips Watches Geneva Watch Auction 7, where the watch broke all sales record for the brand at CHF852,500. While we were hardly surprised, had you expected the watch to have performed so well?

It would be arrogant to say we expected it. I think the least expensive case material that appeared with the most expensive dial material is such an awkward combination that we thought it would go well, because it’s unusual things like these that collector’s dream of. But never forget that it was done for a purpose.

Firstly, to honor Mr. Lange and secondly, to generate the highest amount possible for the charitable cause on the other end. For that, I’m very grateful that people who are so behind our brand are willing to bid so graciously. It was up to us to build the watch but it was up to our collectors to generate such a result.

The 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” one-of-a-kind in stainless steel timepiece went under the hammer with Phillips for an unbeatable price of CHF 852,500 (US$ 852,414 incl. buyer’s premium) on 13th May 2018 in Geneva (©Revolution)
The 1815 “Homage to Walter Lange” one-of-a-kind in stainless steel timepiece went under the hammer with Phillips for an unbeatable price of CHF 852,500 (US$ 852,414 incl. buyer’s premium) on 13th May 2018 in Geneva (©Revolution)

Moving ahead now: Yesterday we attended a whole new module being added to the House of Lange. Could you tell us a little about the intentions behind the House of Lange? How did this concept come about? How does it help the brand to engage its collectors?

If I could put it like this: If there’s a crack on the wall, you’ll recognize it for about two weeks. After that, this crack becomes a part of the environment and you will always think it has to be there.

We’re a small brand, and an even smaller company. Just because you see us all the time, we must not expect likewise that other people know about us.

What we do here is basically to share our passion, history, and how we see fine watchmaking. I believe it’s a great concept to share our passion with the local collectors. It’s the closest you can get to us without visiting the manufacture.

At the 2018 House of Lange in Singapore before class commenced under the guidance of Robert Hoffmann, head of A. Lange & Söhne’s Zeitwerk department (©Revolution)
At the 2018 House of Lange in Singapore before class commenced under the guidance of Robert Hoffmann, head of A. Lange & Söhne’s Zeitwerk department (©Revolution)
The task at hand at the At the 2018 House of Lange in Singapore: The complete assembly of an ETA ebauche — minus the regulating organ (©Revolution)

The House of Lange is a very successful measure to physically engage your collectors. But with watch marketing campaigns increasingly having to turn to new media tools, what are some strategies that a century-old brand like A. Lange & Sohne has had to undertake to engage the Instagram generation?

Lange, you must understand, was established first in the 18th century. And in those days, exhibitions were the only platform available for people to share with the world what they do. There were no newspapers, televisions, and certainly not the Internet.

So, when you think about it, in the grand scheme of things, this is just another change. What Lange has to say, hasn’t changed. What’s changed is simply where we say it from.

Perhaps the biggest difference to consider is the interactivity that all these new media allow us. You can’t very well talk to people and have them converse with you through a newspaper, whereas you can have that exchange on social media.

The challenge that you come to face is the challenge of producing content that is genuine. In all the noise of marketing, it’s sometimes very hard to distinguish between fact and fiction.

In social media, the big challenge is about the two languages: One where you talk to someone who already knows you and the other is to somebody you want to get to know. Most of the time, we need a translator to bridge the latter.

We have to be careful that we don’t become a brand only for connoisseurs, because we want to be open to those who have yet to know of us. We have to ensure that the content we deliver is attractive that is of interest for both these types of individuals. And therein lies a huge challenge for us.

Wilhem Schmid, CEO of A. Lange & Söhne candidly sharing his mind with us at the brand's ION Orchard boutique in Singapore (©Revolution)

So, then how does a brand like yours, so deeply rooted in the values of classical watchmaking, make sense of the modern consumer’s demand for itself?

We’ve been doing what we do since 1845. It’s not like today’s are the same challenges we faced back in those days, with recessions, depressions, and wars.

Our motto, Never Stand Still helps remind us of the appropriate pace to upkeep. As traditional as we are in our watchmaking techniques, I make it a point to emphasize to the whole team that we can never stop learning and must keep up with the latest trends and technologies around us.

Take this for instance: As much as I enjoy the paradise of fine watchmaking in Glashütte, I also see great benefit for the brand from having a part of its operations being based in Germany’s creative center. It is, therefore, why we moved our marketing and communications departments out to Berlin, late in 2017.

Alright, enough business talk. Let’s talk about watches — what can we expect from Lange next? From the Triple Split, how will Lange top itself?

Our general direction will never change. If you look back at the last couple of years, we always come to SIHH with novelties that approach the collector’s heart.

For this year, we brought the 1815 Homage to Walter Lange and the Triple Split, which are, undoubtedly, watches for collectors. While those are our rarer pieces we, also, brought watches with slight updates, like the Saxonia Outsize Date, which is a beautiful piece, but also a very different kind of proposition.

We will always try to offer a varied range in this manner. Therefore, the only thing I can tell you for sure about what’s coming next, in 2019, the year after and the year after that is that this approach of ours will not have changed.

The Triple Split ref. 424.038, limited to 100 watches in white gold (©Revolution)
The Triple Split ref. 424.038, limited to 100 watches in white gold (©Revolution)
567 parts make up the calibre L132.1, which powers the Triple Split ref. 424.038 (©Revolution)
567 parts make up the calibre L132.1, which powers the Triple Split ref. 424.038 (©Revolution)

Okay, we get it. There’s no way you’re telling us about the new watches coming from Lange in the near future. But tell us this: What are the guiding principles that helps Lange one the next leap to pursue?

For that, let’s consider the Lange 1. I always say that it best exemplifies the two defining qualities of the brand.

If you look at the dial, they are beautiful but very understated. They are also functional and very legible. There is a clear hierarchy of information, in a way that is very German; these watches are made for a purpose, which is to tell time.

And then when you turn the watch around, the case back is the complete opposite. It’s opulent and decorative, but it’s completely for the owner’s own enjoyment. That is the typical Lange watch — no nonsense, with clear functionality; using the best materials and the best resources, to create something that bears these two defining qualities. For us, this can never change.