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The attraction of the moon: A. Lange & Sohne

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The moon has always been irresistibly fascinating for people all over the world. So much so that it became the reference for the passage of time and a focus of scientific analysis. In the 18th century, Dresden was not only a centre of precision watchmaking but also a hub of celestial observation and lunar research of selenography, to be precise, the systematic mapping of the moon's surface. At the Mathematics and Physics Salon in Dresdens Zwinger, astronomers used telescopes to create detailed maps of its visible topographic features. Today, milestones of lunar research in Saxony are on display in the scientific history collection of the museum that belongs to the Dresden State Art Collections. It reopened not long ago after renovation and is co-sponsored by A. Lange & Söhne.

Ever since the first astronomical clocks were built in the 14th century, it has been a declared objective in horology to emulate the progression of the moon as accurately as possible. The technical challenge involved in this complication is to ever more accurately approximate the lunar month of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3 seconds. With a moon-phase display that needs to be corrected by merely one day every 122.6 years, A. Lange & Söhne has attained a highly realistic degree of accuracy.

Since the brand's legendary comeback in 1994, the manufacture has presented no fewer than twelve calibres with moon-phase displays. Among them are the LANGE 1 MOONPHASE based on Lange's design icon, and the 1815 RATTRAPANTE PERPETUAL CALENDAR, which had its debut this year. The coating of the lunar discs is another noteworthy aspect. Their exceptional brilliance is based on optical interference effects that reflect only the blue portions of the visible light spectrum.

The encounters between timekeeping instruments and the selenographic exhibits in the collection of the Mathematics and Physics Salon emphasise the strong attraction of the moon in two related disciplines: astronomy and precision watchmaking.

1815 RATTRAPANTE PERPETUAL CALENDAR and a lunar globe, Ernst Fischer, Dresden, 1875



It took Ernst Fischer of Dresden eleven years to sculpt the front side of the moon according to photographs and his own observations. The globe is stunning as regards its size and the plasticity with which it renders the plains, craters, and mountains. Because the rotation of the moon is synchronised with that of the earth, it was impossible to map the "dark" side until it was orbited by the Soviet Union's Lunik 3 satellite in 1959. With a split-seconds chronograph, a perpetual calendar, a moon-phase display, and a power-reserve indicator, the 1815 RATTRAPANTE PERPETUAL CALENDAR unites more horological complications than the clearly organised dial suggests at first sight.

LANGE 1 MOONPHASE and moon medallion, Eduard Lehr, Archenhold Observatory, Treptow, 1900



The world's longest refractive telescope 35 metres long is located in the observatory in Berlin-Treptow. It was established by Friedrich Simon Archenhold and is named after him today. The so-called moon medallions were inspired by his idea. With a ten-fold exaggeration of altitudes, the reliefs present a plastic rendition of the moon's topography. The horological charm of the LANGE 1 MOONPHASE lies in its remarkably accurate and fetchingly realistic display of the waxing and waning.

Visit the A. Lange & Sohne website


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And you will get a nicely engarved balance cock as well....


Not sure you all know this but the engraving of a balnce cock is like writing by hand. Lange experts exactly know who engraved the cock !


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