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Set in an 18K rose gold case, this A. Lange & Söhne ref. 760.032F Pour Le Mérite tourbillon watch made $65,000 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2023. Image courtesy of Freeman’s Hindman and LiveAuctioneers.

A. Lange & Söhne, first among German luxury watchmakers

NEW YORK – Rivaling any of the finest luxury watches made in Switzerland, the confections of German watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne are prized for their quality and exclusivity. Ferdinand Adolph Lange founded his namesake firm in 1825 in the town of Glashütte in the Saxony region of Germany. He was the first watchmaker to set up shop there, but others soon joined him, and Glashütte is now known as the birthplace of the German watchmaking industry.

This circa-2000 A. Lange & Söhne 18K rose gold manually winding watch with a power reserve brought €15,000 ($16,065) in September 2022. Image courtesy of Cambi Casa D’Aste and LiveAuctioneers.
This circa-2000 A. Lange & Söhne 18K rose gold manually winding watch with a power reserve brought €15,000 ($16,065) in September 2022. Image courtesy of Cambi Casa D’Aste and LiveAuctioneers.

Sascha Wendt, one of three CEOs at Henry’s Auktionshaus in Mutterstadt, Germany, stated that interest in luxury watches has accelerated in recent years. “All major brands have generated enormous growth. Of course, interest in A. Lange & Söhne watches was already high before that,” he said. “Thanks to a long tradition, a classic design, and the standard 3/4 plate movement, which was already used in the brand’s pocket watches, they have a high recognition value.”

A trio of A. Lange & Söhne commemorative watches, collectively dubbed the ‘165 Years-Homage to F. A. Lange’ set, achieved €450,000 ($483,485) plus the buyer’s premium in October 2018. Image courtesy of Henry’s Auktionshaus AG and LiveAuctioneers.
A trio of A. Lange & Söhne commemorative watches, collectively dubbed the ‘165 Years-Homage to F. A. Lange’ set, achieved €450,000 ($483,485) plus the buyer’s premium in October 2018. Image courtesy of Henry’s Auktionshaus AG and LiveAuctioneers.

Early A. Lange & Söhne models and commemoratives are particularly coveted, such as a set titled 165 Years-Homage to F. A. Lange, which achieved €450,000 ($483,485) plus the buyer’s premium in October 2018 at Henry’s Auktionshaus AG. The cases of the three watches in this set are in 18K gold, with solid gold dials, and retain their original alligator straps and gold buckles. Meant to mark the 165th anniversary of A. Lange & Söhne, the release comprised three watch models, each of which was limited to between 50 and 265 pieces. “The set of three, which has the same limitation number for each watch, was only issued 20 times with the corresponding special case,” Wendt said, adding that the set offered at Henry’s Auktionshaus AG came from a German collector who kept the watches as an investment and never wore them.

An A. Lange & Söhne ref. 139.035F Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen watch sold for $80,000 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2023. Image courtesy of Freeman’s Hindman and LiveAuctioneers.
An A. Lange & Söhne ref. 139.035F Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen watch sold for $80,000 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2023. Image courtesy of Freeman’s Hindman and LiveAuctioneers.

Among its most recognizable and cherished contemporary models is the Lange 1, which debuted in 1994, after Lange’s great-grandson Walter Lange assumed control of the company. Outfitted with digital date display, time, and seconds, this model possesses all the horological details of a highly technical watch, but with a restrained aesthetic. A ref. 139.035F Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase Lumen watch in a 41mm case size sold for $80,000 plus the buyer’s premium at Freeman’s Hindman in October 2023.

This A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 platinum tourbillon watch realized €72,000 ($77,285) plus the buyer’s premium in December 2022. Image courtesy of Henry’s Auktionshaus AG and LiveAuctioneers.
This A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 platinum tourbillon watch realized €72,000 ($77,285) plus the buyer’s premium in December 2022. Image courtesy of Henry’s Auktionshaus AG and LiveAuctioneers.

In its nearly 200 years of existence, A. Lange & Söhne has witnessed the evolution of watchmaking. The firm has stayed true to its roots, designing stately watches that exude sophistication and style and feature coveted complications. A. Lange & Söhne is one of several luxury brands to produce tourbillon (French for whirlwind) watches. Patented in 1801, a tourbillon is a mechanical device that enhances a watch’s timekeeping accuracy by negating gravity’s effects on its balance and escapement functions. A circa-2000 Lange 1 Centennial Tourbillon watch in platinum, ref. 704.025, realized €72,000 ($77,285) plus the buyer’s premium in December 2022 at Henry’s Auktionshaus AG. This manual-winding model was a limited release, with only 150 produced.

Incorporating the aesthetics of triangles is this A. Lange & Söhne platinum Datograph Flyback watch that earned $55,000 plus the buyer’s premium in June 2023. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.
Incorporating the aesthetics of triangles is this A. Lange & Söhne platinum Datograph Flyback watch that earned $55,000 plus the buyer’s premium in June 2023. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

Circles define the shape of a wristwatch, but A. Lange & Söhne has made triangles key elements of its most appealing watch dials. The company’s website states: “While thinking in circles is conventional in watchmaking, we factor in the particular design principle based on the triangle when we develop watches. Models such as the Lange 1 Moon Phase, the Richard Lange Jumping Seconds, and the Datograph Up/Down incorporate the most simple defined shape in geometry.” A fine representative example of A. Lange & Söhne’s penchant for placing three circular features in a watch dial to create a triangle is a platinum Datograph Flyback that sold for $55,000 plus the buyer’s premium in June 2023 at Heritage Auctions.

While many A. Lange & Söhnes are in platinum or white gold, it offers watches in rose gold as well. A circa-2013 ref. 760.032F Pour Le Mérite tourbillon watch, in 18K rose gold and having unisex appeal, made $65,000 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2023 at Freeman’s Hindman.

A circa-2000 Little Lange 1, designed for the women’s watch market by A. Lange & Söhne, went for €20,000 ($21,410) in June 2023. Image courtesy of Cambi Casa D’Aste and LiveAuctioneers.
A circa-2000 Little Lange 1, designed for the women’s watch market by A. Lange & Söhne, went for €20,000 ($21,410) in June 2023. Image courtesy of Cambi Casa D’Aste and LiveAuctioneers.

The market remains robust for A. Lange & Söhne wristwatches for both men and women. While the firm is best known for its men’s watches, it has several offerings designed to suit the smaller wrists of women, such as its Little Lange 1 and Saxonia models. A circa-2000 36mm Little Lange 1 watch in rose gold brought €20,000 ($21,410) in June 2023 at Cambi Casa D’Aste.

Collectors of the A. Lange & Söhne brand tend to favor watches from the 1990s and models released in limited editions as well as those with sophisticated complications. “Watches from the first series after Walter Lange revived the manufactory in the 1990s are particularly sought after,” Wendt said. Luxury watches that rise to the level of horological art, as do the creations of A. Lange & Söhne, captivate collectors with their distinctive looks and German engineering.