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A. Lange & Söhne - what's in a name

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Most high end watchmakers have a long and storied history. In theory A. Lange & Söhne's history dates to 1845 but for all practical purposes this manufacturer was founded in 1990.

 

Today, A. Lange & Söhne ranks alongside Patek and VC as one of the world's premier watch brands. No matter how talented the watchmaker, it would be almost impossible to achieve the reputation A. Lange & Söhne has achieved in a 20 year period were it not for the name borrowed from history. If you took the modern company founded in 1990, removed the name and left everything else the same you would not have a fraction of the notoriety. This strikes me as a fraud of sorts. I am curious what others think.

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I don't agree. Lange's reputation is based entirely on the design and quality of their watches, not on their name, which was largely unknown when it was resurrected twenty years ago by a descendent of Adolph Lange. When the Lange 1 was released it caused a sensation, and immediatley thrust Lange into the very top eschelon of watchmaking with Patek.

 

Personally, I doubt that the fact that a Lange dial, or company literature, might say 1845 instead of the date the company was resurrected, has any impact on sales. And I don't think the suggestion of fraud speaks too highly of Lange customers. I doubt if anyone with the sophistication, and the money, to buy a Lange, would consider they had been duped by some kind of marketing sleight of hand.

 

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I would in no way call it fraud. Lange is a pretty unusual situation. It was a highly regarded company before WW2. It did not shut down or change hands due to failure. It was a casualty of that war (manufactury destroyed) and could not be re launched till after the reunifacation. Considering Walter was on board for the relaunch of the new Lange and reportedly had and still has some real input into the the designs and their construction to my mind they legitimately have some claim to the Lange heritage. Certainly I dont think you would get much arguement that the new designs pay some homage to that heritage.

I dont know that sophistication is required to buy a Lange. There are those that are rich and simply putting a check in the box. Patek, yep, Lange, got some of those... We dont really care about those people though as here I think we are discussing watch people or at least people with enough interest to feel that the brand name carries some merit (or not) with it. I think I am with sinclair on that, IMO the majority of watch people would recognize Lange as being as good as it gets. The question of heritage if it exists at all is secondary.

 

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Strictly speaking, the heritage is all there - only that it all went into Glashütte Original!

Having said that (a little tongue in cheek!), I seriously doubt that Lange's reputation is based entirely on their history. As for fraud, they are no more fraudulent than all the rest of the "resurrected" companies: Gevril, Arnold & Sons, Jacquet Droz..... And most of those haven't made nearly the impact on the watch world that Lange & Söhne have made. Why? Just look at their output, the innovations they have brought to horology (for many of which severe technical difficulties had to be overcome) e.g.:

1. Large date feature with the digits split (Lange 1)

2. Introduction of the chain and fusee to wristwatches (Lange Tourbillon "Pour le Merite")

3. Instant reset of the seconds hand when pulling the crown to facilitate time adjustment (Lange Sax-0-Mat)

4. Split seconds timing on chronograph seconds and minutes (Lange Double Split)

5. Watch with an entire month's power reserve (Lange 31)

6. Watch with all indications by jumping digital displays (Lange Zeitwerk)

...plus probably quite a bit more. And unlike Patek that do a lot with modular complications based on plain manual/automatic movements, Lange design practically a new movement each time they want to bring out a new feature. If that doesn't enhance your horological reputation, I don't know what will.....!

Hartmut Richter

 

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Actually, I was thinking more of the rich guy with the check who knows little about watches than the watch affectionado. At least where I live (United Arab Emirates), those are the overwhelming majority of buyers of high end watches. Name and price (higher = it must be better) is what matters most to them. I suspect that even in Eurpope and North America, the readers of this board are the minority and the typical high end watch purchaser knows little about the watch beyond brand recognition.

 

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I don't think it's really a fraud at all. Companies change hands and reinvent themselves all the time. The modern appropriation of venerable names by dodgy startup companies with no relationship to the original manufacture is worse than something like Lange's situation.

For the rich watch buyers who don't really know much about what they are getting and just want to pay a lot for a quality watch with a good name, where's the fraud anyway? Lange is a respected marque for good reasons; they use good materials, manufacture in-house, release limited numbers, have solid resale value and are fundamentally good watches, with what is arguably the highest level of finish and technical excellence on the market today. You really do get what you pay for.

As Herr Richter says, many of the Lange watches on the market today are examples of innovative technical design. Therefore, whether one is a watch aficionado or not, they have a lot to offer. There are a lot of companies I would consider pointing the finger at before Lange.

 

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+1

But i think that technically, current Lange has hardly any connection to the old Lange (which was a highly respected company) apart from Walter Lange,

although it the War wasnt the company's fault.

That said Lange does not posses its current reputation without merit and they certainly have the watchmaking ability other wise they wouldnt be so highly regarded.

@chraya

I dunno if it is fraud, but i can certainly understand where u are coming from.

IMHO (A. Lange & Söhne est 1845) certainly sounds/appears more

prestigious than (Lange est 1990) and definitely contributes to their success especially due to the kind of people u spoke abt (not ppl on the forum.)

Though i am sure that many many people outside this forum too buy lange watches because of the watches and not the brand or when it was established.

 

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sure Lange's historical connections have helped, just as they have with Panerai. But Lange wouldn't be where it is today without the help of JLC (as they have done with many other high end brands)........outsize date developed by JLC for Lange is just one example. it doesn't bother me though, I love everything about AL&S, and hope to own one someday.

 

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Have a look at the images of my Lange 1 Timezone and judge for yourself. They are true masterpieces like no other watch brand in the entire world makes them!

 

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