When it comes to elegant watches, A. Lange & Söhne is the keeper of the Grail. Lange’s cases are made from precious metals only, not steel. Most of Lange’s yellow- and rose-gold watches have no luminous material on their dials because it would detract from their classical appearance. Alligator-leather straps keep Lange’s watches from looking even the slightest bit sporty. And while the Lange 1’s dial has an asymmetrical layout, the shape of the hands and the style of the typography uphold the brand’s tradition. The Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen, our test watch, also keeps faith with the brand’s design codes. However, parts of its dial are made of semitransparent black-tinted sapphire, which allows you to see the movement. And features on its translucent face are coated with a generous amount of luminous material, which gives this watch a modern, urban look and makes it a handsome nightlife companion.
Earlier Lange luminous watches also had semitransparent sapphire dials: the Zeitwerk Luminous was introduced in 2010 and the Grand Lange 1 Lumen in 2012. But these limited-edition watches are sold out now. The Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen, released in January 2016, is also a limited edition, but it is even more luminous than previous models: it has a moon-phase display with a moon and stars that glow in the dark. Lange’s decision to use black-toned semitransparent sapphire on the Moon Phase Lumen’s dial wasn’t just an aesthetic one.
The material performs two practical functions: it blocks most wavelengths of visible light but it is permeable to the ultraviolet spectra that “charge” the luminous material on the outsize date display and enable it to glow in the dark. When the date advances at midnight, the newly appearing digits gleam just as brightly as their predecessors. The technique works on the “tens” cross that is coated with white luminous material and printed with black numerals as well as on the “ones” disk, which is printed with black numerals also, and is made of transparent glass. This disk rotates above the luminous background. A drawback is that the date display switches slowly. The moon-phase disk is decorated with luminous stars of various sizes that give it a realistic look. Lange uses a technical trick for this complex display: it makes the disk for the moon’s phases out of glass and uses a patented process to coat it. Then a laser beam cuts the moon and stars (there are 1,164 of them) out of the coating so the luminous substance on the surface below can shine through. The process is laborious but definitely worthwhile because the visual effect is exceptional. The gear train that drives the moon-phase display has been designed to achieve extreme accuracy. The hour wheel continually advances the moon’s phase, which won’t deviate from astronomical reality by one full day until 122.6 years have passed.
A transparent window in the watch’s caseback offers a view of handwound Calibre L095.4, a Lange movement featuring the well-known characteristics of this Glashütte-based brand. These include a three-quarter plate made of nickel silver and adorned with Glashütte waves, screwed gold chatons, a screw balance, and a hand-engraved balance cock with a swan’s-neck fine adjustment mechanism for the beat. All decorations are meticulously crafted, including the bevelled and polished edges of the flat components. This is indeed a handsome movement. The balance spring is made in house: this is a rare distinction, even among luxury brands. Another plus: this caliber will continue to run for 72 hours after it has been fully wound. And Lange achieves this long power reserve with one barrel. The high quality doesn’t stop with the movement: it’s also evident in the dial, the hands and the case. On the various components we were pleased to discover precisely printed luminous material, tidily polished patterns, and very narrow gaps between adjacent parts. However, on our test watch, the platinum folding clasp wasn’t adjusted perfectly: we had to exert a bit of extra force to open and close it. And the folding clasp didn’t add to the watch’s wearing comfort; the watch didn’t fit quite as well as the Grand Lange 1 models with pin buckles that we had tested previously.
We found the Moon Phase Lumen’s operation impeccable with the sole exception of the crown, which is small. A stop-seconds function allows to-thesecond time setting. The outsize date, which is a hallmark of the brand, can be reset using a single button. And the lunar phase can be adjusted by pressing an inset corrector button. But manual adjustment probably won’t be necessary very often: our timing machine calculated that this model gained less than 3 seconds per day. Of course, everything has its price. And the price of the Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen cannot be called “modest.” Be prepared to part with nearly 053.58 lakh for the privilege of owning this watch. On the other hand, the price doesn’t seem quite so high when you consider the high degree of craftsmanship and
amount of labour required, the handsome embellishments on the movement, and the superlative quality. It’s also consoling to know that some soldout, pre-owned Grand Lange 1 Lumen watches are bringing prices above their original ones. And only 200 pieces of the Moon Phase Lumen will be made. With this watch, Lange achieves something that seems impossible: the Moon Phase Lumen reveals more of its movement than previous models, but does so without detracting from the dial’s legibility. In fact, thanks to the luminous substance and the dark but UVpermeable crystal, this watch is even easier to read than the standard Grand Lange 1. But above all, the Moon Phase Lumen is appealing because of its street-chic design, which gives this model a unique status in Lange’s otherwise classical collection.
Manufacturer: Lange Uhren GmbH, Ferdinand-Adolph-Lange-Platz 1, 01768 Glashütte, Germany Reference number: 139.035
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, outsize date, moon-phase, powerreserve display
Movement: Hand-wound manufacture Calibre L095.4, 21,600 vph, 45 jewels, fine adjustment via weight screws along the rim of the balance, swan’s-neck fine adjustment mechanism for the beat, in-house balance spring, 72-hour power reserve, diameter = 34.1 mm, height = 4.7 mm
Case: Platinum with curved and non- reflective sapphire crystal, six screws hold the back in place, sapphire window in caseback, water resistant to 30 m
Strap and clasp: Hand-stitched alligatorleather strap with platinum folding clasp that opens on one side
Rate results: Deviations in seconds per 24 hours
Dial up +2
Dial down +2
Crown up +2
Crown down +2
Crown left +1
Crown right +7
Greatest deviation of rate 6
Average deviation +2.7
Flat positions 292°
Hanging positions 247°
Diameter = 41 mm, height = 9.5 mm; weight = 136 grams
Limited edition: 200 pieces
Price: 053.58 lakh (approx.)
Strap and clasp (max. 10 points): The hand-stitched alligator strap is well crafted and the platinum folding clasp is neatly polished. 9
Operation (5): A button is used to adjust the date; the seconds hand stops moving when the crown is pulled out. 4
Case (10): The platinum case is very well crafted and perfectly polished. 10
Design (15): The Lange 1 is a design icon and fully deserves to be one. Now a semitransparent dial makes it look more modern. 14
Legibility (5): The outsize date display and the time are readily legible, but the real show doesn’t start until the sun goes down. 5
Wearing comfort (10): This watch is pleasantly slim and lightweight, and the strap is supple, but the folding clasp didn’t fit well on our wrist. 8
Movement (20): The manufacture movement with a power-reserve indicator, an outsize date and a moon-phase display offers attractive manually crafted engravings and polished patterns. 18
Rate results (10): Slight average deviation and only one outlier among the individual positions, but the decline in amplitude could be somewhat smaller. 8
Overall value (15): The high price is only partly explained by the elaborate craftsmanship. 11
TOTAL: 87 POINTS