A. Lange & Söhne
Many call Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Audemar Piguet the holy trinity of watchmakers. However, I would argue that A. Lange & Söhne deserve Audemar Piguet’s spot on that list of legends.
Not to discount Audemar Piguet, but I believe the quality and lineage of A. Lange & Söhne shines brighter and is more storied than that of the other great watchmaker. A. Lange & Söhne, all things considered, is one of my favorite watchmakers of all time and one that I believe is worthy of your attention and your praise.
In 1845, a man by the name of Ferdinand Adolph Lange founded a new watch manufacturer he named Lange in the small town of Glashütte, Germany, in the eastern state of Saxony.
A man known for being a perfectionist, trained his sons Richard and Emil, who took over the company following his death. Known for producing superlative handcrafted pocket watches, Emil and Richard Lange began to give their most prized productions a designation we now call “1A”. As the company grew so did their following and by the beginning of 1939, the German military requested they make oversized wrist watches for its airmen the way American companies like Waltham and Elgin had produced watches for the US Forces.
Now outfitting their largest client, pocket watches took a backseat as the Lange family worked feverishly to arm the Germans with time keepers. In 1948, the post-war administration of the Soviet Union expropriated the land that housed the Lange workshops and as a direct result, the Lange manufacturer was out of business.
Fast forward to 1990 and the collapse of the East German government, and a great-grandson of Ferdinand who enjoyed the rich history of his ancestors company decided it was time to bring back the family name into the world of haute horology. Walter Lange, partnered with industry veteran Günter Blümlein, reinvented the company with the assistance of IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre from Switzerland.
Despite the prominent watch makers all being in Switzerland, Walter Lange wanted to commemorate his ancestors by keeping the manufacturer in its home of Glashütte. He named the new company A. Lange & Söhne (meaning “sons”) and, together, with a group of fine watchmakers, began to produce fine timepieces introducing their first range just four years later.
Many experts agree that the way you can tell if you’ve made a mark on the watch industry is if companies like the Richemont Group offer to acquire you. Of course, like many before it, that’s exactly what happened and A. Lange & Söhne became a member of the Richemont group.
Manufacture A. Lange & Söhne was established in Glashütte, Saxony, by Ferdinand A. Lange in 1845. For the next hundred years, A. Lange & Söhne pocket watches were among the most sought-after timepieces in the world, until the Second World War forced the company into a 40-year hiatus. In 1990, following German reunification, Walter Lange, great-grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, revived the brand which in 2000 became part of the Richemont Group.Now employing close to 500 people, half of whom are watchmakers, the company produces timepieces whose quality of execution has given new status to German mechanical watchmaking.