Complicated Classic: The Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar

Though the biggest news from A. Lange & Söhne this year was probably the newly updated version of its classic Datograph Flyback Chronograph, another timepiece from the Glashütte-based manufacturer almost managed the hard-to-imagine goal of eclipsing the revised Datograph (one of the most iconic and beloved designs in modern watchmaking.)

The watch that almost stole the limelight from the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph was one of the most complicated watches ever made by Lange: a perpetual calendar, incorporating a power reserve complication, tourbillon regulator, retrograde display of the day of the week and, of course, Lange’s patented big date display.

The real problem for Lange was to create a perpetual calendar that used the basic dial architecture of its most classic watch, the Lange 1. The Lange 1, when it was first introduced in 1994, had a dial design that was considered revolutionary for the time; it featured a small subdial for the hour and minute hand, as well as a large power reserve indication and a large date design that was both beautifully crafted and extremely complex. The asymmetrical balance of the dial made it an instant hit, but it also made creating any variations on the watch a potential minefield as any alteration of the dial elements could destroy the entire design.