BUILT IN A PAINSTAKING TWO-FOLD ASSEMBLY PROCESS, WATCHES BY A. LANGE & SÖHNE ARE WORKS OF ART.
Crafted mainly in gold or platinum, A. Lange & Söhne movements are twice assembled by hand. PHOTO COURTESY OF A. LANGE & SöHNE
IT IS NOT UNHEARD OF for a highly skilled German watchmaker to take 18 months to build a single high complication timepiece from A. Lange & Söhne (alange-soehne.com). The movements, some made from over 700 different pieces, are built and assembled by hand, tested for accuracy, and then taken apart again. Once disassembled, they’re handfinished and polished, lavishly detailed and enameled, and built a second time—and tested again. “The double assembly is something that’s very German and very specific to A. Lange,” says Jordan Nicole Shoe, the company’s PR and brand communication manager. “Because everything is done by hand, we have a very limited production.” Each year, only a few thousand watches are made.
The Experience Library inside the brand’s Aspen boutique. PHOTO COURTESY OF A. LANGE & SöHNE
Opening last summer in an 1800s Aspen storefront once owned by Stein Eriksen, the new A. Lange & Söhne boutique is the luxury watchmaker’s only Colorado location. The shop is a partnership between the brand and Meridian Jewelers, owned by Aspen’s Kenny Smith.
In 1845, watchmaker Ferdinand Adolph Lange opened the original manufactory in Glashütte, Germany, to make pocket watches that remain coveted among collectors. The facility was bombed in 1945, on the last night of WWII, and the brand all but disappeared. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, opening the possibility of a brand comeback. Lange’s great-grandson, Walter Lange, returned to Glashütte to resurrect the namesake company 145 years later.
Watches like the Lange 1 Time Zone are made in Glashütte, Germany. PHOTO COURTESY OF A. LANGE & SöHNE
Ask about the brass “1994” sitting on the shelf in the boutique’s Experience Library, and Smith will tell you that story. The lounge-like space has a collection of books and photos that showcase the brand’s history and technology, as well as a demonstration board that shows how watchmakers meticulously hand-engrave signatures onto balance bridges. The library serves as a gathering space where watch connoisseurs can talk timepieces over coffee or a glass of wine.
The shop’s interior design concept is based on Bauhaus principles, with solid materials like steel and natural stone and clear lines that reflect the structured functionality that defines A. Lange’s craftsmanship. The angled and polished edges of the glass cabinets mirror the timepieces’ intricate movement decorations. The inner workings of the movement can be seen through a clear crystal sapphire case back. “When you flip over the watch, you can see all the pieces working together and the balance wheel oscillating—it looks like a tiny city,” Shoe says. “It’s a work of art.”