Article By: Logan Hannen

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re diving into one of my favorite modern luxury watches – the Lange 1 from A. Lange & Sohne.

So let’s talk history really fast. A. Lange & Sohne was founded in 1845 by Adolf Lange, an apprentice watchmaker in Glashutte, Germany. Originally, the brand was completely bespoke, only making pieces on commission for a range of very, very elite clients (we’ll get to that in a second). This move helped them to define who they were as a brand, and helped to hone their skills as absolute masters of horology. And then came the war…

During World War II, Lange was contracted to provide oversized flieger watches for the German Air Force, which you can see an example of pictured below:

A. Lange & Sohne B-Uhr Flieger from WWII
Source: Hodinkee

Admittedly, these particular pilot watches are not overly remarkable when compared to some of Lange’s more complicated, refined pieces, but it was a sign that the brand was so well-respected by the German elite that they were the brand deemed most capable of producing military grade watches. The issue, naturally, is that those German elite were Nazis.

Then came the fall of the Third Reich. Near the end of the war, their workshops were trapped under a bombing raid and, unfortunately, none of them survived – the workshops, that is. After the war, the Soviet Administration nationalized the remainder of the company and, in no time flat, the name “A. Lange & Sohne” was essentially a ghost.

When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, Walter Lange, great-great-grandson of the brand’s founder Adolf, was able to return to Germany and, by 1990, he had re-registered the trademark for A. Lange & Sohne. For four years, the team worked diligently to resurrect the brand that had once been at the forefront of contemporary watchmaking, and when the time finally came, the brand reintroduced itself through a press conference at Dresden Castle in Germany. And they did this with four distinct models:

The Four Models that Relaunched A. Lange & Sohne in 1994 – Press Conference at Dresden Castle
Source: A. Lange & Sohne

The four models introduced at the event were the Arkade, the Saxonia, the Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite”, and, of course, the Lange 1. The Lange 1, according to Walter, was the big hit of the event, a piece that somehow managed to captivate more than any other they’d released, and this is part of why the Lange 1 is so important to the brand.

Lange 1 Ref. 191.025

Mechanically, it’s an incredibly solid watch, but really it’s the boldness of the design, and the fact that it became iconic almost instantly that cement it as one of Lange’s most important offerings. That design, by the way, is one that has sort of become a bit of a discussion. We’ve always felt that other German brands (and non-German brands, to be fair) that attempt to do the same thing with regards to off-center dials and slight asymmetrical design can only ever really be said to be copying Lange (see: the Glashutte Original PanoReserve). It is a watch that has earned its place among modern horological classics, and will likely remain that way for a long time to come, especially because the Lange 1 is, in my opinion, the truest way to keep it (luxuriously) classy, watchfam.