When German watchmaker Ferdinand A. Lange established his watch manufactory in 1845 in the picturesque town of Glashütte, he paved the foundation for fine watchmaking in Saxony. A. Lange & Söhne flourished in the pocket watch business until just after the Second World War, when the company was abruptly expropriated. Following the collapse of Eastern Germany nearly five decades later, the brand was resurrected in 1994 by Walter Lange, great-great grandson of Ferdinand A. Lange; A. Lange & Söhne has since established a devout following globally.
In a short period of only 20-plus years, A. Lange & Söhne has developed over 40 manufacture calibres and secured a top-tier position among the world’s finest watch brands, all the while remaining headquartered in its original home of Glashütte. “It is a German company, after all, and we are proud of that,” says Asia Pacific brand manager (and former North America brand president) Gaetan Guillosson. “There are some crucial differences between us and the Swiss brands, and these things are what our clients seek from us.” These features include details such as “Glashütte stripes” and a style-defining three-quarter plate.
The watches are true technical masterpieces and all elements of the watches are assembled in house. Lange movements are made from “German silver”, a unique alloy of copper and nickel, thus giving the watches a distinctive sheen, different from that of the plated brass in Swiss pieces. “It is extremely important to us to maintain this identity, to keep the brand’s origins and history firmly in place,” says Guillosson. “In the North American market, if anything, this is a great way of differentiating the brand, and building interest, passion for it.”
The wrist watches were introduced in 1994 and A. Lange & Söhne is now part of the luxury goods group Richemont. “We are in the process of building an entirely new manufacture, which should be complete by the end of 2015,” says Guillosson. “We will never produce a large quantity of watches, but we will be capable of a little more quantity without compromising quality at all. If anything, technology will allow us make even finer pieces, when it is combined with the artisanal skills of our watchmaking team. These are exciting times.”