Highlighting the beauty of traditional finishing techniques, A. Lange & Söhne is participating in this year’s edition of the Homo Faber Event hosted by the Michelangelo Foundation from 10 April to 1 May 2022 in Venice. Selected for its exceptional expertise in the art of Glashütte fine watchmaking and its superb traditional craftsmanship, the German manufactory will be presenting its HANDWERKSKUNST collection within the “Details: Genealogies of Ornament” exhibition.
Focusing on the excellence of time-honoured master craftsmanship and its influence on contemporary arts and today’s world of design, the second edition of Homo Faber will take place in the magnificent settings of the historic Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the Venetian Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. More than 350 renowned designers and artisans from over 30 countries will showcase their work within 15 immersive exhibitions, each dedicated to different aspects of craftsmanship. Guided by a philosophy of sustainability and in accordance with its philosophical concept determining the human being’s ability to control their fate and environment through tools, Homo Faber highlights the importance of making crafts viable and preserving them for future generations.
At the heart of luxury objects
Selected for its exceptional horological savoir-faire and legacy, A. Lange & Söhne is one of 14 luxury maisons featured in the “Details: Genealogies of Ornament” showcase, located in the building of the former Nautical School. This multilayered exhibition highlights meticulous craftsmanship which continues to play an integral role in the production of modern premium products, such as fine watches, jewellery and haute couture. The comprehensive collection has been compiled by Judith Clark, an internationally renowned London-based exhibition director and fashion curator. In an immersive setting, with beautifully crafted wall panels and specially made floor tiles reflecting the heritage of each craft and its tools, visitors can explore the sheer diversity and gain an understanding of the lineage – or “genealogy” – of each craft, which includes sophisticated traditions handed down from generation to generation.
Devoted to the highest standards: A. Lange & Söhne’s HANDWERKSKUNST collection
The HANDWERKSKUNST collection, which comprises seven limited timepieces, is the most stunning expression of the exceptional skills and craftsmanship of A. Lange & Söhne’s master watchmakers. Handwerkskunst – which translates as “craftsmanship” – refers to the meticulous finishing of the movement, dial and case, which is performed by the brand’s finisseurs, engravers and enamellers. Employing rare and sometimes revived crafts and combining them with innovative ideas, they rise to the challenge of taking the extraordinary as a standard of refinement for which the manufactory is celebrated to an even higher level.
The first model, distinguished by particularly elaborate finissage, was the RICHARD LANGE TOURBILLON “Pour le Mérite” HANDWERKSKUNST, launched in a limited edition of 15 pieces in 2011. A manifestation of both artisanal and mechanical virtuosity, the watch is clad in Lange’s proprietary honey gold and features a rare fusée-and-chain transmission and a tourbillon. Crafted from the same material, the dial highlights a special finishing technique called tremblage. This rare form of engraving is achieved by an orbital motion of the lining burin in eight different directions. The result is a highly filigree granular texture that creates a stunning three-dimensional satin finish. This magnificent impression is complemented by the radiant solarisation on the three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver, which can be admired through the sapphire-crystal caseback. Finally, the fourth-wheel bridge is embellished with an elaborate relief engraving. Contrary to the more common intaglio engraving, this technique is used to sculpt the motif out of the material, so that it stands out from the background.
The latest masterpiece in the series, the CABARET TOURBILLON HANDWERKSKUNST from 2021, also brings together cutting-edge horology and rare craftsmanship. Breathing new life into the first wristwatch tourbillon with a second’s stop, an innovation by A. Lange & Söhne that was premiered in 2008, its three-part dial, made of solid white gold, puts into the spotlight two different engraving techniques and the art of black polishing. To top it off, the surface of the masterpiece is coated with a semi-transparent enamel layer adding depth and brilliance to the look and feel. The inner area is distinguished by a subtle, manually applied lozenge decor, serving as a sophisticated background for Lange’s iconic outsize date. This repetitive pattern is particularly challenging because even a tiny deviation would become instantly visible. A thin line decorated with tremblage visually separates the dial parts from one another. This engraving also graces the frame of the hand eye and of the date aperture. The top of the bridge of the one-minute tourbillon is finished with black polishing, considered one of the most difficult finishing techniques.
Various decoration and finishing techniques
Alongside the display of the entire HANDWERKSKUNST collection and a precious vintage pocket watch, visitors to the Homo Faber Event can observe a master engraver from the manufactory’s workshops decorating a balance cock in the intaglio style on-site. Thanks to its intricate floral pattern, this tiny yet beautifully embellished part of the movement is a beloved hallmark of every A. Lange & Söhne timepiece because it bears the personal signature of its engraver, making it a unique piece. It instantly catches the eye when the owner flips the watch to admire the movement through the sapphire-crystal caseback. The floral motif has a long tradition: it has already graced the precision timepieces created in the early days of the manufactory in the middle of the 19th century.
Today, A. Lange & Söhne keeps alive all three major engraving techniques that go back as far as the Saxon precision watchmaking traditions of the 19th century: intaglio, relief engraving and tremblage. Thus, it is a pleasure for the company to introduce them to the visitors of the exhibition and to immerse watch enthusiasts into the world of A. Lange & Söhne. “The Homo Faber exhibition is the perfect venue to share our brand heritage which is steeped in artisanal skills”, Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid notes. “We are honoured to be part of an event that reflects our commitment to contemporary craftsmanship and dedication to the highest standards.”
About A. Lange & Söhne
Dresden watchmaker Ferdinand Adolph Lange laid the cornerstone of Saxony’s precision watchmaking industry when he established his manufactory in 1845. His precious pocket watches remain highly coveted among collectors all over the world. The company was expropriated after World War II, and the name A. Lange & Söhne nearly vanished. In 1990, Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s great-grandson Walter Lange had the courage to relaunch the brand. Today, Lange crafts only a few thousand wristwatches per year, predominantly in gold or platinum. They are endowed exclusively with proprietary movements that are lavishly decorated by hand and assembled twice. With 68 manufacture calibres developed since 1990, A. Lange & Söhne has secured a top-tier position in the world of watchmaking. Brand icons such as the LANGE 1 with the first outsize date in a regularly produced wristwatch, and the ZEITWERK with its precisely jumping numerals display, rank among the company’s greatest successes. Exceptional complications such as the ZEITWERK MINUTE REPEATER, the TRIPLE SPLIT, and the so far most complicated model, the GRAND COMPLICATION presented in 2013 in a six-watch limited edition, reflect the manufactory’s determination to achieve ever new pinnacles in its tradition-steeped horological artistry. Launched in 2019, the sporty-elegant ODYSSEUS marks the beginning of a new chapter for A. Lange & Söhne.