A. Lange und Sohne Tourbograph “Pour le Merite”

In 2002, I had the pleasure of attending the official launch party of A. Lange und Sohne in the Netherlands, organized by Steltman. On this special occasion, I had a conversation with mr. Walter Lange who, at a certain moment, put off his watch and handed it to me for a few seconds. I felt the short excitement of wearing a Tourbillon “Pour le Merite”, no. 1/150.  My passion for Lange watches grew even more after this close encounter.

The Tourbillon was launched at the resurrection of the Lange brand in 1994, and paved the way for an even more complicated model, 11 years later.

On 7 December 2005, the Lange watch manufactory in Saxony looked back on 15 years since it was re-established. In Glashütte, precisely 160 years earlier, Ferdinand Adolph Lange had laid the cornerstone not only of his legendary company but also of Germany’s precision watchmaking industry. It was one thing to commemorate these dates, another to celebrate the double birthday in the typical Lange fashion. And so, Lange’s master watchmakers took pleasure in delighting the aficionados of extraordinary complications with a very special opus: a watch of stunning complexity and exclusivity that has never been crafted this way before.

And what a surprise it was! The world’s first one-minute tourbillon in a wristwatch format that features a fusée-and-chain transmission combined with chronograph and rattrapante functions is breathtaking. Matching the TOURBILLON “Pour le Mérite” that was presented in 1994, this wristwatch again unites the two likely most complex mechanisms dedicated to enhancing long-term rate accuracy but it goes a step farther. As the name TOURBOGRAPH suggested, this exceptional watch integrates a timekeeping mechanism that even allows lap times to be measured. It was the second Lange watch with the attribute “Pour le Mérite”, an accolade for the superb horological skills of Lange’s master watchmakers. The name alludes to the order of merit inspired by Alexander von Humboldt and sponsored by King Frederick William IV in 1842 for outstanding, predominantly scientific accomplishments. Indeed, the TOURBOGRAPH “Pour le Mérite” was the so far most complex and exclusive wristwatch ever made by A. Lange & Söhne. It was much more than a watch with a tourbillon and far more than just a chronograph. It had no match anywhere in the world with respect to the combination of its extraordinary complications.

text (partly) and photographs courtesy of A. Lange und Sohne

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