A. Lange & Söhne Adds A Minute Repeater With A Safety Mechanism To The Richard Lange Collection
I must say, I’m a bit overwhelmed by writing this article. I’m someone who likes to understand everything that he writes about. But when you get asked to write an article on a watch by A. Lange & Söhne, you almost certainly know that it’ll involve a complicated piece. The word “piece”, of course, refers to not only the watch but also to the article at hand. When I saw the first pictures of this new A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Minute Repeater, I thought I got lucky. Not a single complication, just the hours, minutes, and sub-seconds. But then someone pointed out that bulge on the left side of the case…
Indeed, when you slide that bulge, it releases the minute repeater mechanism. A minute repeater. Great… The most complicated of all complications! How on earth am I going to write an understandable and easy-to-read article on that? And what will all those Lange enthusiasts think of me? I recently had a short hands-on with a pink gold Saxonia Thin, but that’s about it. Oh well, let’s just look at it as an opportunity to learn a lot of new stuff. Especially about that beautiful Saxonian design and craftmanship that went into this all-new Richard Lange Minute Repeater.
Richard Lange — all about precision, legibility, and…
I’ll start by explaining that the Richard Lange collection is all about precision and legibility. That means that all the models in this collection have a limited amount of complications. A. Lange & Söhne focuses all its attention on the one or two extra complications per watch. By doing that, the brand makes sure that the complications are executed in the best way possible. I think you can guess which complication those masterminds focused on when it comes to the Richard Lange Minute Repeater.
That’s right, all their attention was directed at the chiming mechanism. First of all, the case is made of platinum, which is well known for its great acoustics. Then the two gongs, which are wrapped around the movement, are shaped by hand several times to optimize their sound performance. The gongs ring out thanks to two mirror-polished hammers, and the entire spectacle is visible through the large sapphire case back.
When you push that slide on the left side of the case downwards, the minute repeater will tell you the exact time in hours, quarters, and minutes. When it’s 11:53, for example, there will be 11 low tones for the hours, three double tones for the quarter hours, and eight higher-pitched tones for the minutes that have elapsed since the last quarter hour. This means there is a total of 720 sequences. Although this already sounds impressive, there’s nothing new here if you’re familiar with other minute repeaters on the market.
A minute repeater with a safety mechanism
The cherry on the cake here is the fact that A. Lange & Söhne has further optimized its minute repeater complication to make it more rugged. The brand has done so by eliminating the pause that usually occurs when the quarter-tone isn’t necessary (at 11:05, for example). Normally, the minute repeater would pause between the hours and minutes. But in this case, it’ll continue striking the minutes directly.
A. Lange & Söhne has also implemented a crown safety mechanism. This ensures that you can’t activate the minute repeater when the crown is pulled out. Vice versa, you also won’t be able to pull out the crown when the minute repeater has already been activated. I haven’t actually used a minute repeater all that often, but I can imagine this is something that could eventually happen. Lange’s final optimization of the minute repeater comes in the form of a hammer blocker.
This patented mechanism holds the hammers still for a fraction of a second after every strike. This is done to ensure they won’t bounce back on the gong again, which could mess up the chiming sequence. On an already-complex construction like a minute repeater, I can only imagine how hard it is to make these optimizations happen. To do so, A. Lange & Söhne has equipped the Richard Lange Minute repeater with an all-new movement.
Take a look at the beautiful artisanal finissage!
It’s a hand-wound movement named L122.1, which operates at a frequency of 3Hz and delivers a power reserve of 72 hours. And A. Lange & Söhne wouldn’t be A. Lange & Söhne if the movement weren’t treated to the brand’s famous “artisanal finissage”!
Reading this part of the press release really made my head spin a little bit. To prevent that from happening to you, I’ll give you a quick summary here. The most important thing to mention is the signature freehand engraving on the balance cock with its whiplash spring. Both the winding train and the bridges on the chiming mechanism have been finished using solarization. By the way, one of those bridges is skeletonized to show the centrifugal governor. It operates at a speed of more than 2,000 revolutions per minute when the chiming mechanism is activated. This high speed guarantees the uniformity of the cadence of the strikes.
The new movement is placed inside a platinum case that measures 39mm wide by 9.7mm high. The dial, which consists of three separate parts, is made out of 18K white gold that is treated with white enamel. Long Roman numerals indicate the hours, and the hands are made out of blued steel. Both its size and appearance don’t easily give away the fact that this watch is a minute repeater. Even that sliding activator goes almost unnoticed. It’s only when you look at that beautiful case back that you see the two hammers and the gongs.
When you wear this watch on the wrist, people won’t immediately know you’re actually wearing one of the most advanced calibers out there. I really like that about the Richard Lange Minute Repeater. It’s very different from the Bvlgari Octo Roma Blue Carillon, for example. That watch is very much a show-off piece compared to this A. Lange & Söhne. Just like the Bvlgari, though, which is a limited edition, the Richard Lange Minute Repeater is also a limited piece. A. Lange & Söhne will produce just 50 of these watches.
What do you think of the A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Minute Repeater? Would you rather pick this one or the Bvlgari? Do you fly more under the radar, or are you a more outgoing person? Let us know in the comments!