Christophe Schlencker is a force to reckon with at the A. Lange & Söhne manufacture. We're not kidding. Each and every single watch has to go through his extreme level of quality tests before they get approved for production – and by extreme, we mean 550 gram iron hammer dropping, garden-digging, crown-headfirst dropping torturous quality tests.
It's a self-declared goal for Schlencker to have an A.Lange & Söhne that can survive it all in perfect working order. Always on the lookout for ways to improve the construction and materials or to streamline the manufacturing process, Schlencker's job is to make the job's of the designers and prototype engineers as difficult as humanly possible.
His torture chamber is located on the ground floor of the Technology and Development centre building, and is extremely clean. It includes some of
the most brutal tools to deliberately destroy the German-made mechanical treasures. One of these tools if the “Shaker” - a simple wooden box rotating in all possible directions at an irregular speed; stimulating five years of mechanical stress caused by an athletic wearer.
Another tool is the standardised strike box which allows a 5,000 gram hammer crash on the case of the watch precisely stimulating a fall from a height of one metre onto a hard wooden floor. Schlencker also bought a climatic chamber which can replicate all climatic zones from around the world ranging from 20 degrees of dry cold to 80 degrees of humid heat. He also enjoys creating his own instruments like the “button tester” which consists of many little bolts pressing the buttons of a chronograph again and again with consistent force, ensuring the precision of the buttns even after 50,000 times on start, 50,000 on stop and 50,000 times on zero setting.
In addition to all these, Schlencker has also procured a “torture testing machine” which measures the power reaching a cog and the percentage of it that is used. The less energy lost, the better it is for the durability of a watch . For a well-adjusted cog, 93 per cent of power usage is calculated, the rest is consumption, and every percent of lost efficiency shortens the lifespan considerably. He observes the consequences with a high frequency camera which can take 10,000 images per second and store up to 15 seconds to dissect the interior of a watch while it is ticking. Not unlike open heart surgery, Schlencker sometimes needs to fold away components or grind off edges to have a clear view for his camera. It is an indispensable diagnostic tool which he claims is the best for defect analysis in fine watchmaking.
In order to avoid the special problem of the interplay between the power centre and clock, coil and balance spring during re-examination, Schlencker looked for a method to coordinate the two components exactly. This resulted in the laser beam which can scan an oscillating balance permanently, count the frequency, and measure the amplitude in any conceivable position if at all possible, in order to simulate the different influences of gravity. These calculation were then turned in to sound curves. The tool was used for the first time for the Double Split.