Editor’s note: The other day I caught up with someone who’d recently picked up an A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Up/Down, and holding it in my hand — by golly gosh, those German guys at ALS know their way around a watch. This piece might not be their most complicated or most hyped, but it’s pretty perfect …
Even though there’s no doubt that the darlings of A. Lange & Söhne’s lineup are the more contemporarily styled pieces like the Lange One and the Zeitwerk, there’s still a place for deeply traditional design in the catalogue of Glashütte’s favourite son – and that’s the 1815 collection.
Named for the year of founder Ferdinand A. Lange’s birth, the 1815 family of watches takes as its inspiration early marine chronometers. First developed in the 18th century, these ship-bound timepieces were extremely accurate, and a vital tool in navigation. And while the design isn’t what we’d associate with tool watches these days, make no mistake, legibility and reliability were the name of the game. It’s logical that Lange, those masters of function and style, adopt this distinctive look as the trademark for their 1815 collection. With the blued sword-style hands, railroad minute track (with the brand’s distinctive triple dot at the cardinal points) and the ornate, Jugendstil numerals, the 1815 Up/Down would look just as stylish in 1915 as it does today.
For me, though, the most charming feature of this watch is the bottom-heavy subdial layout, a sure sign (if any were needed from Lange) that the L051.2 movement definitely isn’t an off-the-shelf ébauche. And while the right-hand dial displays the running seconds, it’s the Auf/Ab indicator on the left that is the soul of this watch. If your Deutsche is up to scratch (or you’re just observant), you’ll have worked out that Auf/Ab means Up/Down and that this is a power reserve read-out, showing off the 72-hour power reserve. Aside from adding balance to the dial, the inclusion of the power reserve indicator again harks back to the time when this sort of watch was a critical tool, and knowing when it was about to stop telling the time was serious business.
These days it’s less crucial, but there’s no doubt the 1815 Up/Down looks the business – it’s a serious, sober watch, the sort of timepiece the mountains of Saxony have been producing for centuries. There’s no reason you couldn’t dress it down a little, but to really make that pink gold case shine, wear it with a suit.