- By Isabella Proia
In 1845, founder Ferdinand Adolph Lange established his own workshop in Glashütte, Saxony. A. Lange & Söhne flourished for close to 100 years; however, its factories were sadly destroyed on the final day of World War II, and the brand itself would soon be confiscated by the Soviet Union. Following the demise of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Ferdinand’s great-grandson, Walter Lange, re-established the brand once again in Glashütte in 1990. The first collection, comprised of four watches, was launched in 1994 and immediately rose again to the forefront of haute horology. One of these four watches was the timeless and now-iconic Lange One.
This year, the Lange One celebrates its 25th anniversary, with the manufacture releasing several limited edition iterations over the course of 2019. Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo is proud to honor the birth of this iconic model by presenting this fresh-to-the-market, absolutely “New Old Stock”, untouched, Lange One in stainless steel, dating from 1999.
The A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 in stainless steel
On the brink of Y2K, the president of Cellini Jewelers in New York received an invoice from A. Lange & Söhne, wherein he accepted delivery of three A. Lange & Söhne watches, including a stainless steel Lange One reference 101.026 bearing the case number 117’955, for the price of 8,831 EUR. The year 1999, incidentally, was the first year of the Euro, explaining why the ledger also lists the price in Deutsche marks. For the next 20 years it sat – unworn, untouched, undisturbed – in a Cellini inventory drawer.
The Lange One in stainless steel was never offered in a catalogue, and the manufacture has never confirmed the exact number of stainless steel examples produced. Experts’ estimate that approximately 30 were made in total, likely between 1994 and 2001, at the request of certain retailers or important clients. Of those thirty, about eight have appeared publicly at auction. Of those appearing at public auction, our research shows that they all bear unique case numbers – they were never re-sold or traded publicly after showing up at auction. Collectors and specialists are acutely aware of the rarity of stainless steel cases when it comes to vintage Patek Philippe, and Lange similarly has almost never cased their watches in stainless steel, preferring to use precious metals only. The fact that these watches tend to surface and are then clearly treasured by their owners is a testament to their long-lasting appeal and Spartan beauty.
Pared down to its essentials, the Lange One excels in its simplicity and elegance. The oversized date, endemic to all subsequent Lange One models, was based on the historic five minute digital clock specially built for the Semper Opera House in Dresden. When building the opera house in the early 1840s, architect Gottfried Semper wanted to avoid the chiming pocket watches patrons used to check the time. Watchmaker Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes, the mentor and future father-in-law of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, received the commission to create this clock and subsequently built this digital clock with two apertures for the hours and minutes. Poignantly, according to the historical narrative of Lange, Gutkaes wrote to the young Mr. Lange to not “forget your home” when he set off in the 1830s to travel. A hundred and fifty years later, this symbol of Dresden was incorporated into the rebirth of the A. Lange & Söhne brand and has become one of the most recognizable design features of modern watchmaking.
A remarkable opportunity for the connoisseur with superb provenance, the watch was never worn or used, nor has a strap ever been fitted to the case.
For more information on the present watch, please view our GAME CHANGERS catalog.