A. Lange & Söhne's Zeitwerk is the first wristwatch to feature a mechanical caliber with a digital (numeric) time display, making it an extremely innovative watch. The collection's top model is made of platinum and features a minute repeater.
Mechanical watches with a numeric time display are extremely rare in the world of watchmaking. The A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk is one such timepiece and the first mechanical wristwatch from this Glashütte-based manufacturer to display the time using jumping hours and minutes. The only hands are located on the small seconds dial and power reserve display. The famous Five-Minute Clock in the Dresden Semperoper served as the inspiration for this timepiece.
This collection's highlights are models with a chiming mechanism and the Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst . The latter is made of platinum and limited to a run of 30 pieces. Its case and movement are both intricately engraved by hand. Every watch in the Handwerkskunst series demonstrates A. Lange & Söhne's watchmaking prowess and is the embodiment of haute horlogerie. You can find other Handwerkskunst models in the Lange 1, 1815, and Richard Lange collections.
The A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is this series' most complicated model. It was the first mechanical watch to combine a decimal minute repeater with a jumping time display. This Zeitwerk relays the time acoustically broken down into hours, ten minutes, and minutes, which sets it apart from other minute repeaters. Timepieces from manufacturers such as Patek Philippe chime the quarter hours, not ten minutes.
|Model||Price (approx.)||Case Material||Complications|
|Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, ref. 147.025||348,000 USD||Platinum||Minute repeater|
|Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst, ref. 140.048||189,000 USD||Platinum||Numeric time display, power reserve indicator|
|Zeitwerk Decimal Strike, ref. 143.050||126,000 USD||Honey gold||Automatic chiming mechanism for hours and ten minutes|
|Zeitwerk Striking Time, ref. 145.029||96,000 USD||White gold||Automatic chiming mechanism for hours and quarter hours|
|Zeitwerk, ref. 140.032||58,500 USD||Pink gold||Numeric time display, power reserve indicator|
The unique time display of the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk comes at a price. In pink gold, this timepiece costs around 58,500 USD new and 54,500 USD pre-owned. The white gold edition costs a few thousand dollars more, ranging from 55,500 USD pre-owned to 62,000 USD in mint condition.
The platinum Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst is limited to a run of 30 pieces. Its black rhodium-plated white gold dial is decorated with extremely delicate tremblage engraving. The caliber L043.4 features a lever and escape wheel in hardened 18-karat gold, making it truly special. You can purchase a pre-owned example of this rare luxury watch for about 189,000 USD.
If you're interested in a Zeitwerk with a chiming mechanism, you have three models to choose from: two with an automatic chiming system and one with a minute repeater. The minute repeater model is made of platinum and is 44.2-mm in diameter, 2.3 mm larger than the standard Zeitwerk. By pressing the pusher, the repeater relays the time acoustically broken down into hours, ten minutes, and minutes. It does so using two gongs and two small hammers. The hammers are designed to resemble mining tools as a nod to Glashütte's mining history. Expect to pay over 340,000 USD for a mint-condition Zeitwerk Minute Repeater.
The Zeitwerk Striking Time and Decimal Strike both have an automatic chiming mechanism. When activated, this mechanism tells the time acoustically without having to press a button. You can deactivate this feature by pressing the pusher. The Zeitwerk Striking Time represents the hours with a deep tone and the quarter hours with a high tone. New, the pink gold model demands around 90,000 USD. You can find pre-owned pieces for as little as 82,000 USD. The white gold version costs about 96,000 USD new and 80,000 USD pre-owned. The platinum edition is limited to a run of 50 watches and sells for anywhere between 142,000 and 159,000 USD.
Instead of chiming the quarter hours, the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Decimal Strike chimes every ten minutes. This special timepiece's case comes in honey gold – an especially hard precious metal used exclusively by A. Lange & Söhne. The Zeitwerk Decimal Strike is limited to 100 pieces, making it particularly interesting for collectors. If you'd like to call this luxury watch your own, be sure to have around 126,000 USD on hand.
The Zeitwerk is unmistakably a Lange watch. The large numerals displaying the time immediately call to mind images of Lange's outsize date display. Unlike most Lange date displays, the Zeitwerk's designers decided to forego the divider between the first and second numerals. The second markers on the small seconds subdial are reminiscent of those from other Glashütte manufacturers. A similar railroad minute scale also features in the 1815 series.
The round case also marks this watch as coming from A. Lange. The smallest version of the watch is 41.9 mm in diameter, making it well-suited to be worn as a dress watch . One advantage of the digital display is that the minute window peeks out from under your sleeve, so you can read the time with one quick glance.
If you turn the watch over, you will see the richly decorated in-house caliber L043.1. This manual movement has a power reserve of 36 hours and an AB/AUF (UP/DOWN) power reserve indicator. With the help of the stop-seconds mechanism, you can set the watch to the exact second.
The hand-engraved balance cock and pallet cock are especially beautiful. Fine adjustments occur via six eccentric poising weights on the balance rim. A. Lange produces both the balance rim and balance spring in-house. Rubies set in screwed gold chatons are an elegant touch and perfectly complement different Glashütte finishes such as perlage, polished and tempered screws, and gold engravings.
The Zeitwerk proves that A. Lange & Söhne's designers and watchmakers posses outstanding watchmaking prowess. Creating a numeric display with jumping minutes is anything but easy. It took six years for the Opus 3 from Harry Winston to function properly after it was first introduced. Porsche Design's Indicator, a watch with a numeric chronograph display, had a major overhaul after its premiere.
The problem with a jumping display is that every switching operation requires enormous energy. Over the course of just one day, the three discs for hours and minutes advance forward 1,608 times. A usual date display advances only once a day. Thus, for this mechanism to function properly, a powerful mainspring is required. This causes a major difference in power between when the watch is fully wound and when it about to run out of energy, which itself causes deviations from the proper time. Therefore, A. Lange & Söhne developed a so-called constant-force escapement. It compensates for the difference in power and ensures that the mainspring always passes on the same amount of energy to the balance wheel. Like the balance spring, Lange produces the spring for the constant-force escapement in-house.
In the long run, excess power can damage the delicate pieces of a movement. For this reason, a small burst of air blows through the movement once a minute at the exact moment when the minute disc jumps. The air slows the disc's movement. Every year, 525,600 small bursts of air slow the movement down and ensure it lasts longer.
A. Lange & Söhne drew inspiration from the world-famous five-minute clock at the Dresden Semperoper when designing their outsize date display. In 1838, Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes, who served as the Saxon court's master clockmaker, was commissioned to create a clock that could be read clearly from all seats in the opera house. Together with his former apprentice, Ferdinand Adolph Lange, he presented the five-minute clock in 1841. This large clock displayed the hour via a Roman numeral in a left-side window and the minutes via Arabic numerals in a right-side window. The time changed every five minutes, displaying the time in increasing increments of five: 00, 05, 10, etc.
A. Lange & Söhne also used the five-minute clock as the basis for their Zeitwerk collection. However, unlike the original clock, they use Arabic numerals for both the hours and minutes, and the minute window changes every minute. Hands are only used for the power reserve display and small seconds. The hands are distinctive to Lange: very thin and delicate. One eye-catching detail is the large bridge made of German silver that extends across the dial. It frames the small seconds and the hour and minute windows. The bridge is a functional part of the movement: Together with the colorless jewel bearings, it supports the axles of both minute discs. The power reserve display is located on the upper half of the dial, just below the A. Lange & Söhne logo.