A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual ‘Pour Le Mérite’ Watch Hands-On
Some Lange watches put me in actual pain, I want them to such an extent. To make this issue sound more genuine than it actually is, I’ll call it Futile Unattainable Watch Acquisition Syndrome (FUWAS, for short). On the off chance that somebody has copyrighted that already, have his lawyer contact mine. Unusually, the heavyweight horological muscle-flexer A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual ‘Pour Le Mérite’ isn’t such a Lange, and I have even managed to finally sort out why.
Why? Exactly because it is a heavy weight horological muscle-flexer of a watch, a watch that’s so exaggerated, its doping has allowed yet a couple of little portions in the Lange DNA to endure such abusive treatment. In truth, we have seen the combination of a round case, perpetual calendar and moon phase in sub-dials, and a chronograph many occasions previously. Many, many occasions, because that’s how really spoiled we are. The Tourbograph even shows some skin (beautiful skin, in fact) at 6 o’clock to let you know not simply with its textual style decision and somewhat novel carries that it’s a Lange.
I completely understand the value and the awe-moving goodness in the bespoke, not-replicated from-anyone-else designing that’s in the engine of this Tourbograph Perpetual, however we are not talking about an uncased movement here, yet a complete watch. On that note, anyone who doesn’t tingle at seeing this movement should look for medical attention, fast! To take a more certain approach to what in particular unquestionably is a watchmaking masterpiece, we have to take a gander at the myriads of fine details the Tourbograph offers.
Let us stay with the dial side and start with its most immediately apparent feat: its gladly displayed tourbillon scaffold and assembly. The actual extension features a bend on each end that is visible from the smallest of review angles. Take a more critical look and you’ll see what appears to be perhaps the most challenging anglages ever: in the shape of a “V” the edges are beveled and cleaned by hand. The two prongs lead to a gold chaton with a diamond endstone inside – a since quite a while ago failed to remember element saved for just the best pocket watches of old.
The tourbillon’s cage itself features unusually romantic bends and eye-wateringly reflect cleaned top surfaces. The second image above shows how that mirror finish functions: it is either luxurious sparkly white, or totally dark. Because the tourbillon sits so profound under the dial, light discovers clever ways to make it to simply a few pieces and bits of the tourbillon assembly – an alternate, yet fantastic light show on display.
Lange say the tourbillon “overcomes the draw of gravity” and I’m sorry, however I can’t help yet wince each time I read or hear that. Jedi and astronauts onboard the ISS can overcome the draw of gravity, yet relatively few others – and a tourbillon certainly can’t. It isn’t 2002 anymore, when the tourbillon is something mystical that’s impossible to explain. I may be criticizing here, sure, yet what is it if not attention and understanding of such details that we anticipate from the serious weapons like Lange? The tourbillon, completely presented to the draw of gravity, after some time averages out the rate mistakes of the watch’s timekeeping organ, something largely and totally unnecessary in a wristwatch, unless we’re speaking multi-axis tourbillons.
The dial side has many different treats for the spectator, namely those connected to the perpetual calendar and the rattrapante chronograph. The previous is composed of 206 parts, almost 33% of the 684 total component tally of the L133.1 caliber. Lange’s moon phase is “accurate to 122.6 years” – mind you, that “accuracy” means that it takes that much an ideal opportunity for the moon phase display to be off by a complete day. Such an arbitrary way is the means by which the accuracy of moon phase displays in watches is usually decided, not that anyone really cares about actual practicality past its stylish and designing element.
The rattrapante chronograph then again is one of the most technically noteworthy and challenging complications out there. A few watchmakers I asked revealed to me they think that its more challenging to do than a sonnerie or moment repeater, and certainly a lot greater pain in the neck than a perpetual calendar (unless it is instantaneous and/or further complicated). The two laser sharp chronograph seconds hands rest a hair’s width above each other in their reset position, with the blue being the rattrapante hand, operated by the pusher at the 10 o’clock position of the case.
The rattrapante chronograph also gives us the ideal reason to turn the A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual ‘Pour Le Mérite’ around and take a superior gander at its caseback. It is one city of a movement, really like a small-scale city of gears and plates. A complicated Lange, and especially a chronograph, will always be among the most splendid-glancing calibers in all of watchmaking history.
As we have seen with the Lange Double Split, there isn’t one, yet two section wheels in the movement. As you can see on the image above, this section wheel is straightforwardly connected to the two arms that control the parting (or rattrapante) work: some very finicky geometrics come to play to pause and let go of the wheel connected to one of the two central chronograph seconds hands. The other section across the movement (the one to the left on the image underneath) fills in as a regular chronograph function’s segment wheel, responsible for halting and starting the chronograph itself.
There are simple movements that amaze with their completing and there are not really amazingly completed complex movements that amaze with their awesome layout. The Tourbograph blends the two and creates a watch that is a sensual overload with a window onto a reality where staggering surface treatments and decorations meet with a portion of the challenging geometrics and interactions of components.
It is filigree and yet tough in a way couple of movements with ~700 components are. All the parts appear to have substantial volume to them, almost making one wonder why such countless different movements we see incorporate fragile-looking little springs and cams in their plan. The Tourbograph resembles a beautifully decorated machine that dwarfs other movements.
Hidden somewhere inside the entrails of the L133.1 is a fusée and chain transmission framework, intended to guarantee an all the more even conveyance of force as the mainspring loosens up over its short, 36-hour power save – 36 hours is surely concise, however a more limited than average force save isn’t exactly unusual among such outrageously complicated movements. The actual chain is 636 parts, however Lange considers it one (indeed, one) part in the 684 component check of the movement itself.
On the wrist, the 43mm-wide and walloping 16.6mm-thick platinum case is a robust, powerful beast. It wears fine, yet the heaviness of the case and the ~1,400 components inside it do make for one heavy watch. Weapons grade, I believe is the word. Not many watches make me feel invincible, yet this one did in its strange way – because it, in all fairness, is a fragile thing.
Without a shadow of an uncertainty, Lange is a force to be reckoned with in present day watchmaking – the flippin’ Death Star that gradually moves in the vast horological space, filled with little planets of miserable yet strangely likable brands. On the off chance that sheer designing awesomeness and quality of execution could by one way or another allow a watch to shoot lasers, I’d hope to see a Lange do it first – and there’s no good reason for coming second in that game, is there?
The Tourbograph Perpetual ‘Pour le Mérite’ is one more weapon in the manufacture’s armada that vouches for the excellence and almost terrifying skill of Lange – and for this, I regard it without a piece of reservation. In any case, strangely, for the same reasons, by one way or another it is as yet overshadowed by different pieces in Lange’s range that are, in their own particular manners, equally great, yet considerably more Lange. Think about any of these three incredible Zeitwerks ( hands-on here ), the badass Lange 1 Lumen ( hands-on ) or, obviously, the Datograph .
After all is said and done, seeing the Tourbograph Perpetual hands-on was a memorable and fantastic experience, as it damn well ought to be for any evident watch enthusiast – however why I’m anticipating SIHH 2018 is to see more Lange 1s and Zeitwerks, not simply muscle-flexing, regardless how noteworthy it is.
Price for the A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual ‘Pour le Mérite’ is around €480,000. alange-soehne.com