5 questions on the new A.Lange & Söhne 1815 Tourbillon with Anthony de Haas, director of product development
A case study of understatement
To appreciate the new 1815 Tourbillon, you have to go back four years. 1,460 days ago (give or take) was the watershed moment when A. Lange & Söhne first combined the stop-seconds mechanism for the tourbillon with the zero-reset time setting feature. Together, the patented mechanisms allowed the watch to be stopped and then set with one-second accuracy. Now, this precision timekeeping instrument has been introduced in a special edition design bearing a white enamel dial.
Evidently, said enamel dial is the first detail one will notice about the watch. But cast your eyes a little south and the large aperture at 6 o'clock will bid you to look closer. A modest impression of its complexity, it reveals the one-minute tourbillon, suspended beneath a black polished bridge, spinning in action. Working smarter than the average tourbillon, it doesn't just offset the influence of gravity; the maison's experts have engineered it such two additional patented mechanisms augment the tourbillon, refining them to fit into and interact within the intricate filigree of the complication. Indeed, it's the zero-rest and stop-seconds mechanisms — the former having been around since 1997 with the introduction of the LangeMatick model and the latter patented in 2008 — which delivers the one-second accuracy assurance when you stop and set the timepiece.
Sounds just like A.Lange & Söhne the purists know and love, doesn't it? So how does an enamel dial play into the historic authenticity of the 1815 Tourbillon? And why enamel, specifically? Director of product development, Anthony De Haas, gives us the insider deets.
What has inspired you to equip the 1815 Tourbillon with an enamel dial and what is the message that A. Lange & Söhne is sending with this watch?
In a way, the 1815 Tourbillon is one of the most quintessential A. Lange & Söhne timepieces because it offers a well-balanced blend of the brand's traditional aspects and pioneering inventions of the new era. The large tourbillon is combined with two patents; the zero-reset and the stop-seconds feature for the tourbillon. These intricate mechanisms are characteristic of our understated approach to fine watchmaking. They work behind the scenes like "hidden heroes" with the single purpose of enhancing the accuracy and the functional performance of the watch. The enamel dial accentuates the classic design, which is adapted from Lange's pocket watches with their Arabic numerals, "chemin de fer" minute scale and blued steel hands. The basic idea was to build a credible bridge from the origins of watchmaking to the present.
What is behind the decision to print the 12 in red?
The red 12 is a design statement with a nod to the history of fine watchmaking. It brought liveliness to the dial of a pocket watch — and does it still today. Lange's dedication to historic authenticity comes at a price: The red 12 has to be separately imprinted and stoved.
What is the biggest challenge in making the enamel dial of the new 1815 Tourbillon model?
Enamel is capricious and can't be hurried. The process takes several days, during which the various steps have to be repeated over and over again. Absolute cleanliness is paramount because the inclusion of even the smallest particle of dust or dirt would mar the flawless surface.
Why does the watch have a different case height compared to the standard version?
Compared to the standard version with a case height of 11.1 millimetres, the new model is 0.2 millimetres higher. The applied enamel results in a slightly thicker dial than the standard dial made of solid silver.
What is so special about the patented stop-seconds mechanism and how does it interact with the zero-reset function?
While a stop-seconds mechanism is quite common in a modern wristwatch, it was for a long time not to be found in a tourbillon movement. The reason is that it was considered to be impossible to stop the oscillating balance wheel inside the rotating tourbillon cage. Lange overcame this problem with a stop lever featuring a hinged V-shaped braking spring. It reliably stops the balance wheel, even if one arm of the spring is resting against one of the three cage posts. By interacting with the added zero-reset system, the tourbillon cage stops instantaneously and the seconds hand jumps to the zero position, much like in a chronograph. That makes it easy to synchronise the watch to the second.