Just last week, German brand A. Lange & Sohne opened its stunning new flagship boutique on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 63rd Street on the upper East Side of Manhattan. The boutique boasts a new interior design concept that incorporates a first floor with multiple seating areas and a few grand surprises. To celebrate, the brand also unveiled its beloved Zeitwerk Repeater in its proprietary HoneyGold®.
A coveted collector’s timepiece, A. Lange & Sohne’s Zeitwerk Repeater mechanical watch combines a jumping-numerals display for hours and minutes, along with a decimal minute repeater. While most minute repeaters chime the time in hours, quarter hours and minutes past since the quarter hour, the decimal repeater chimes the hours, the 10-minute intervals past the hours and the minutes past since the last full 10-minute interval. The sound, which strikes using three tones, is so clear and crisp in the proprietary HoneyGold® case. The case is the sounding board, if you will, that produces a rich, clear sound. The gongs of the watch are hand tuned and their performance can be viewed on the dial side.
The first watch of its kind was released in 2015 in platinum and was an immediate success. One of the things that makes this watch so special is that wearers can hear the time chime but can also watch the hours and minutes of the mechanical digital time jump to change with every minute – keeping in sync with the sound. This achievement was no easy feat.
Essentially, while the repeater is striking, the jumping action of the numerals is delayed until the repeater has ended. If the new minute or hour begins during the striking mode, it automatically changes when the chiming stops. It requires a master watchmaker’s intense attention during assembly, disassembly and reassembly of the movement. Unlike other repeaters, the sound is activated with the press of a button instead of a slide. Elaborate safety mechanisms are built into the movement to ensure that the repeater is not accidentally interrupted.
The movement, manufacture-made caliber L043.5 consists of a massive 771 individual parts – each meticulously finished by hand. The watch also offers a constant-force escapement to ensure that the power is delivered with a consistent force throughout the entire duration of the power reserve. Because of the labor intensive nature of the making of the 44.2mm Zeitwerk Repeater, just 30 pieces in HoneyGold® with a gray dial will be made.
“We never did a Zeitwerk Minute Repeater in HoneyGold so we were very interested to see how it would sound,” said Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid. “We love the sound, but it all comes down to tiny adjustments by the master watchmakers. That’s where the limitation sets in when it comes to production. There are not a lot of watchmakers that can assemble that watch, who have a good ear and can achieve the perfect balance between rhythm, loudness and time.”
A. Lange & Sohne’s New NYC Boutique
As more Richemont brands begin moving toward the upper East Side, they are turning to new design styles that offer cozier seating and a lively space for visitors to go hands on with A. Lange & Sohne watches from each of its six distinctive families. There are even some boutique exclusives. With a warm color scheme of dark brown leather couches and gray textured fabric seating, along with hard granite tables, the boutique also boasts a wall that displays the 684 individual parts of the Turbograph Perpetual Calendar Pour Le Merit movement. The Experience Library showcase carefully curated exhibits that give visitors insight into the history and craftsmanship of the Manufacture.
Perhaps most dramatic is the large 15-foot-tall floor-to-ceiling replica of A. Lange & Sohne’s Triple Split timepiece. It is an exact reproduction of the watch and the front can be seen from outside, while the back can be seen from inside the boutique. The display of a huge clock has been a signature of the brand at the Watches & Wonders Geneva shows, and never ceases to delight watch collectors and lovers.
This article by Roberta Naas first appeared on Forbes.com.