A. Lange & Söhne invite Time+Tide Club Members to boutique lock-inAndrew McUtchen
On a cool Sydney night, with most of the darkened city preoccupied with the Vivid festival, A. Lange & Söhne and Watches of Switzerland hosted an evening in their Martin Place Boutique for Time+Tide Club Members. The doors were promptly locked, the cocktails were soon in hand, and the objective for all attendees was simple; to learn, dine and commune over one of the most desirable high-end watch brands in the business. And all with the head of the Oceania region, Mr Charles Langlois, based in Singapore, co-hosting proceedings with me.
Charles’ communication style on a brand, whose technical achievements and sheer mastery of the craft can be intimidating, is to focus on the details. He regaled the crowd with anecdotes about the very small number of artists that engrave the balance cock on each piece, how each of their styles differ, and how they are allowed a “signature” of sorts, which can be identified by the end customer. Charles shared with great pride, that his own watch (what in the industry is referred to as a “wear watch”, meaning it is not in fact his own, but the company’s on loan), a Grand Lange 1, was one of the final watches to be engraved by a now retired artisan, whom he mentioned by name. He described, in eloquent detail, the tiny nuanced differences between each engraver’s style and idiosyncrasies.
Another telling tale was based around the brand’s unusual, and labour intensive double assembly, which sees every single watch that leaves the manufacture being assembled twice. Once dry, “to ensure everything fits and is perfect”, and then once more with lubricant, before various plates and parts are actually finally finished, to ensure as perfect as possible symmetry to the movement decoration.
After an hour of storytelling, which often diverted to even more interesting places, care of engagement with Club Members, the crowd were allowed one final opportunity to raise a topic; and it was a unanimous choice. The Odysseus – a watch that has single-wristedly shaken and stirred people’s expectations of what the brand stands for, and is capable of.
“It’s a watch that was always launched to be part of your Lange collection”, Charles explained when queried about its availability. “The Odysseus became the sixth pillar of the brand. Somehow, unfortunately or fortunately, it came up in 2019 when there was peak hype about the integrated steel bracelet sports watch. It was the whole Nautilus, Royal Oak, blue dial period. The good thing is that now we’ve added a chronograph, it’s a full collection, not a one off. We will see more developments.”
Charles outlined the importance of the Odysseus’ versatility, as it has “the spirit of a very practical watch that you have for weekend activities, like golfing, yachting, whatever”, which has been a pillar in all of its editions so far, discontinued or not. “Every time we try to do something different, not just with materials, also with movements. I think what we’ll see is… more materials or improvement in movements. New technicalities. It’s a collection we can do so much with.”
“In 2009, we launched a watch with a digital hour and minute display, and as of today, it’s pretty much the only one in the industry. We improved it last year with a 72 hour power reserve, an hour and minute pusher to make it easier to set time, and made it even thinner despite using the same movement diameter”, Charles explains, remarking on the development of the Zeitwerk and painting the perfect picture of what A. Lange & Söhne truly stands for. “There is always this quest for the best, for more, even if it’s impossible and it might fail, or never make it. It’s going beyond the limits of watchmaking.”