Thursday, December 13, 2012

A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 "Lumen" A Player of Light at SIHH 2013

Every watch company wants to unveil a unique aspect to time telling, whether it be in a twist on a tourbillon; an avant garde alloy, a dashing design or an unparallelled precision in performance.  For the SIHH 2013 A. Lange & Sohne has focused on luminescence in an exceedingly interesting way. 

One can immediately identify the large luminous date which takes up a prominent position towards the top of the dial. This is the first time A. Lange and Sohne has used luminescence on its signature large size date as well as its power reserve.   An intriguing aspect of the watch is the darkened partial transparency of the dial created from sapphire crystal covering the date disc like a darkened area of a stage waiting  for its scene, but there is a very valid reason for this.  Unlike the dial hands and Indicators, the future date does not see the light of day - critical for the effectiveness of  lume (For an in depth explanation Read What is Lume?), thus in order for the A. Lange and Sohne's large date aperture to glow in the dark as soon as the next calender date appears, it would have to receive a certain amount of light prior to its appearance in the date aperture - hence the transparent sapphire crystal covering the date disc. The idea of the tinted Sapphire Crystal dial is not entirely new, but a "date targeted" change to its A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Luminous Timepiece.

Now the watch itself  is a thing of beauty isn't it? The luminescence across the dial is bestowed with a flourish.  No meager dribbles 
of the stuff, like A. Lange & Sohne's earlier versions,  but thick plentiful layers of lume which glow with a clear splendor in the dark.  Of course after a couple  hours
the glow does fade, but then the alternative, tritium, which can glow for a good 12.5 years  even in a stygian grotto
has the uncomfortable  chemistry ,albeit eons of half-life's weaker, associated with another element: Radium.  Now Radium ,which is highly radioactive given its own founders, Marie Curie's, unfortunate demise and, of course the suffering of those poor young girls , has scared off a good many companies from even tentatively using tritium. One such company is Panerai. - But that story for another day.   Now I must mention the tritium used in watches today is encapsulated in tubes and as far as I've read have no ill-health effects.

Anyway I have strayed again - quite a bad thing which may send my readership plummeting into the very Stygian grotto I have aforementioned.

This watch is not for mass consumption, but rather an elite few limited to 100 pieces.  The case is crafted from platinum  - a metal often used for commemoration timepieces where the original timepiece was of steel craftsmanship, limited editions accentuating the prestige and/or watches destined to become a coveted collectors item. The manually wound movement is in-house (anything less would surely raise an eyebrow or two) A. Lange & Sohne caliber L095.2 comprised of  400 parts baring 42 jewels and capable of a 72 hour power reserve. The watch is strapped to the wrist by a hand stitched crocodile strap and secured with a platinum signature Lange prong buckle. 

I must say this is a fine piece - very fine indeed.

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