Lang & Heyne’s Marco Lang Heads New Watch Group
History has a way of repeating itself, so it should not come as a huge surprise that something is brewing in Dresden, once the seat of central Europe’s progressive fascination with fine mechanics.
That this particular seat (a throne, really) has moved to Glashütte along with A. Lange & Söhne is not news. Today’s story is remarkable in that it comes from perhaps an unexpected corner: the A.H.C.I.’s only member in the Saxon capital city.
Specifically, Marco Lang. Lang has always been a watchmaker with a lot of ideas. And a lot of energy. But I will say that I have rarely seen him quite as excited and satisfied with the world as he was when I visited him recently in Dresden.
He has a lot of reasons to be happy right now, not the least of which is his new professional situation, which allows him to fully realize his entrepreneurial and horological dreams.
And this begins, as so many of the best stories do, with an investor.
I know what you’re thinking: so many of watchmaking’s most inventive creators have suffered under the financial purse strings of those providing the money. But Lang couldn’t be a better poster child for what happens when investor and watchmaker collide in just the right way.
Lang & Heyne
Marco Lang is, of course, the head and hands behind Dresden-based boutique brand Lang & Heyne. This little firm comprising only ten employees creates about 50 watches per year that are not only different from everything else out there, but also decidedly “Dresden” in origin and style.
Their rarity is enhanced by the extremely fine finishing and creative ingenuity of the movements, cases and hands – all of which are manufactured in the little atelier situated in Dresden’s elegant, historic “villa quarter.”
That Lang has bigger plans was clearly displayed in May 2012 when Lang took on the Herculean task of opening a retail location next to the lobby of the Swissôtel Dresden (facing Dresden’s premier tourist attraction: the Zwinger) called Hartding.
Lang handily explained the unusual name, “It stands for the many passionate watchmakers in my family, particularly my great-great-grandfather Richard Hartding, who opened his own shop in 1903 and took his first step toward independence.”
Until now, Hartding has specialized in sales of timepieces by independent makers such as Lang & Heyne, Habring2, and Lang’s A.H.C.I. colleagues such as Marc Jenni, Paul Gerber, Frank Jutzi, Miki Eleta, and Sinclair Harding (Robert Bray).
However, this is also destined to change, as has so much of Lang’s workday since Dr. Ulrich L. Rohde first contacted the communicative watchmaker. Rohde (of Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG) seems to be an impassioned watch aficionado.
As such, in 2010 he co-founded Leinfelder Uhren München, a small boutique brand at home in Munich’s historical city center.
Rohde was searching for someone to manufacture movements for his brand, thus, upon doing some research, he reached out to Lang. What took place after the initial meeting happened quickly, but more than satisfactorily for the watchmaker: Lang & Heyne along with Hartding were integrated into Rohde’s budding group, and Uhren-Werke-Dresden (UWD) was founded.
Lang now finds himself in charge of not just his own brand, Lang & Heyne, and his newer retail location, Hartding, but also movement manufacturer UWD and as such contributes important mechanics to the group’s second brand, Leinfelder, which is co-managed by Margret Maas and Martin Mandl.
And all he had to do to get there was take a giant leap of faith and pretty much relinquish financial control over his own company.
But Lang doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, I would even go so far as to say he is very pleased with his new circumstances. “It is really fun being an entrepreneur,” he confirms. Although at the same time, he does add, “The A.H.C.I. is and will always remain my roots.”
The new group financed by Rohde is now christened with a particularly colorful and – at least for those involved in the art of horology – meaningful name: Tempus Arte (Latin for “time art”).
Tempus Arte comprises four distinctly different quarters, all of which are now subject to the organizational and horological talents of Marco Lang: Lang & Heyne, Uhren-Werke-Dresden (UWD), Leinfelder, and Hartding, which will be renamed Tempus Arte come May 2014 when it re-launches with a slightly renewed retail concept generally focusing on German watchmaking.
As evidenced throughout the 169-year horological history of Saxony, movement makers have traditionally christened their factories with supremely practical names. And Lang’s team was no different when it came time to give a name to the newly founded supplier company brought to life through Leinfelder’s need for movements (though Lange & Heyne also now profits from the machinery).
Uhren-Werke-Dresden simply means “watch movements Dresden,” even though – strictly speaking – the refurbished guest house that UWD now calls its home is not within Dresden’s official city limits, but rather those of Radeberg (home of the famous beer). Conveniently, UWD is only three kilometers from Lang & Heyne’s cozy workshop.
UWD is strictly conceived as a supplier, and it not only supplies cases to Lange & Heyne – a brand that has always made its own anyway – but, importantly, movements and components to other brands and potential clients.
And, thus it so happens that the very first serial movement to emerge from UWD is one conceived by Lang, engineered by the watchmakers and technicians he hired and trained, and produced in Dresden at UWD for Leinfelder.
As Lang showed me the state-of-the-art machinery and the renderings of the finalized movement, which can be viewed at Baselworld, which opens its doors on March 27, he could not have been more filled with pride. “This,” he explained, “is the result of the global demand for more and more Saxon horological knowledge.” UWD is capable of manufacturing components, entire movements, and even whole watches.
At the moment it employs 15 full-time employees. And there is still room for much expansion.
Baselworld 2014 debut
But this does not mean that Lang has forgotten about his first baby. Not by a long shot. And while it’s been several years since Lang & Heyne introduced a new model, the timepiece experiencing its debut at Baselworld 2014 more than makes up for the gap thanks to its complexity and inventiveness.
Augustus I is named for the Saxon electoral prince whose love of art and mechanics laid the cornerstone for Dresden’s world-famous museum collections. The unique, unusual mechanics that characterize the very finely finished movement are based on an invention of Dutch aficionado John Twaalfhoven that displays significant dates such as birthdays and anniversaries by means of a series of calculations.
Augustus I was originally conceived as a one-off creation for Twaalhoven, but has now become the most complicated and expensive model in Lange & Heyne’s regular collection, with no more than three of them per year projected to be manufactured. “This is our first watch in a six-figure range as well,” Lang confirms.
Hand-wound Caliber VII, which for the first time does not utilize the characteristic Saxon three-quarter plate, boasts more than 340 exquisitely finished components, including those comprising the “calculator” behind the watch’s special function: displaying a significant date such as a birthday.
“This is a man’s watch, as men seem to often forget birthdays,” Lang quips before showing me the 18-karat gold gear wheel bridge and balance cock secured to the base plate with blued screws and traditional chatons. One of his most talented watchmakers has spent a week just with the finishing of these parts.
The mechanics are just as clever: a monopusher in the crown operates five different function modes, which essentially display the “memory” of a certain event, like a birthday. After Baselworld, we’ll bring you more information and photo material of this 44 mm rose gold timepiece. For now, we hope you enjoy this view of the interesting movement mechanics.