The much anticipated and somewhat delayed Concorso D’Eleganza Villa d’Este was held this weekend in the picturesque town of Como, north of Milan, where car collectors gather once a year for the world’s premier showcase of classic and modern automobiles.
And not for the first time, the event was also an opportunity to spot some amazing watches, thanks in no small part to a certain German watch-manufacturer.
A. Lange & Sohne celebrated its tenth year as one of the principal partners of the Concorso, a relationship which has led to the creation of several one-off timepieces presented to past victors of the Concorso, all of which bear a special engraving of the Villa d'Este coat of arms.
For years, the Lange 1 Timezoner has been the watchmaker’s model of choice for the prize, but 2021 marked an important change with the introduction of a unique 1815 Chronograph. The watch, which houses a streamlined version of the mythical cal. L951.1 found in the Datograph, was in many ways the most obvious choice to succeed the Lange 1 Timezone.
The model’s thinner and more classical case design and the chronograph function both tie perfectly into the world of collectible cars, and I am sure it gave many of this year’s entrants extra motivation to win the “Best of Show” prize in order to come away with the watch - something only eight participants have achieved, including a certain Mr. Ralph Lauren.
Announced officially a few weeks ago, the unique 1815 Chronograph features a striking and provocative pink gold dial with brown registers reminiscent of vintage chronographs. Unlike previous models from the same family, this one also features a tachymeter scale instead of a pulsometer scale - another nod to the automotive theme of the weekend.
Personally, I had been aching to see the watch in person to see the dial in the light of day, and I think it’s important to note the colour, which has previously been described as salmon, isn’t really salmon. It’s actually a lot more interesting.
According to Lange’s Director of Product Development Anthony de Haas, the watch was originally meant to have a pretty traditional dial featuring salmon paint, but early prototypes did not wield the results the brand was hoping for. “It felt a little dead,” said de Haas.
Following some testing, Lange found making the dial from pink gold to be the best solution. The manufacture has sparingly used pink gold dials for high-end models in the past, such as for the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, but the decision to use it in one of its simpler chronograph models is an inspired one as it transforms this model.
Like others in the catalogue, this 1815 Chronograph is made in white gold and measures 39.5mm, but that is where the apparent similarities end. The dial’s unique pink and brown colour scheme gives it a completely different and vintage feel, which will appeal to both classic car enthusiasts and watch collectors.
As per tradition, the watch features a unique engraving on a hinged case-back of the event’s coat of arms and year of the win. I have been told this is the first of several 1815 Chronographs which will be presented, with production limited to “the foreseeable future”
A. Lange & Söhne CEO Wilhelm Schmid presented the watch and “Best of Show” award to the owner of the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT TDF during a special gala dinner hosted on Sunday.
Concorso d'Eleganza Ville d'Este 2021 Winner:
Selection of cars in competition:
Watches spotted at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa D'Este 2021: