A Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual
© Lange Uhren GmbH

A Lange & Söhne was revived in 1990 by Walter Lange, the great-grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, who founded it in Glashütte, a town in the then kingdom of Saxony, in 1845.

The dial name ceased to exist in 1948 after the Soviets, who occupied eastern Germany after the second world war, seized Glashütte’s watch companies and merged them into a nationalised business. But the reunification of Germany enabled Lange to reregister his family dial name and set about rebuilding the company as a maker of high-end watches for connoisseurs.

From the outset, the new-generation Lange models majored on exceptional mechanisms and exquisite finishing — so much so that its Datograph of 1999 was hailed as “the finest serially produced chronograph in the world” by celebrated independent horologist Philippe Dufour.

The movement was originally designed by a watchmaker called Annegret Fleischer. who had worked at the nationalised watch enterprise (VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe) before being recruited to A Lange & Söhne shortly after it was re-established.

In 2006, Lange took the watch a step further by creating the Datograph Perpetual (deconstructed here), which incorporates a perpetual calendar mechanism that, if the watch were to be kept running, would automatically take account of short months and leap years and remain accurate for 122.6 years.

To achieve this, the current model, introduced in 2015, uses a hand-wound movement comprising 556 individual components that enable the calendar to show the days of the week, the months of the year and the phases of the moon.

A particular characteristic of the watch is its “big date” mechanism, which takes the form of two large windows containing oversized numbers for optimum legibility.

The style of display, which was first used on Lange’s 19th-century pocket watches and has become a signature of the brand today, was inspired by the calendar on Dresden’s Semper Opera House clock of 1841.

The Datograph Perpetual can undoubtedly be described as a “modern classic” and the values of pre-owned models at auction have been rising steadily to the point that they frequently exceed what they originally sold for new — especially in the case of versions that are no longer available.

Following the discontinuation of the pink gold model in 2022 after a seven-year production run, the Datograph Perpetual is now available only in white gold — at a price of more than £100,000.

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