A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Up/Down Lumen: It’s Illuminating!
by Martin Green
It didn’t look good: on the morning of the opening of the new A. Lange & Söhne boutique, dark skies not only generously showered Dresden with rain but also spurted gusts of wind making staying dry outside a challenging ordeal.
The extremely low water level of the Elbe that flows through Dresden was evidence of the long, hot summer that had now clearly passed.
I don’t know how A. Lange & Söhne did it, but two hours before the opening the dark clouds broke, the sun came through, and the wind died down. The city transformed in the warm light, showing its grandeur as the capital of a previous empire, once the royal residence of the electors and kings of Saxony.
A lot of the rococo and baroque buildings dominating the city center have been rebuilt from the rubble as the bombing raids of World War II deeply cut the city, wounds that couldn’t heal in the decades in which it was hidden behind the iron curtain.
Claiming a birthright: Dresden, Walter Lange, and A. Lange & Söhne
As soon as that political curtain fell, the founder’s great-grandson Walter Lange was there to reclaim his family’s heritage. And so was Dresden, regaining its stature as the spectacular city it once was. It is remarkable how well both have succeeded in this task, something that becomes exceptionally clear when you stand in the city’s new A. Lange & Söhne boutique.
It hasn’t even been three decades since the brand was resurrected. In an incredibly short period, it has gained the respect of the entire watchmaking community: collectors, journalists, and even competitors openly show their admiration for the brand.
In 2007 A. Lange & Söhne opened its very first brand boutique in Dresden, and this one is now also the very first of the company’s own shops to emerge clad in a new style.
Moving locations, it now resides at a prime spot in the heart of Dresden, occupying a generous corner right across from the famous Frauenkirche. The interior of the new boutique, which will become the new standard for all A. Lange & Söhne boutiques worldwide, highlights in a very playful way the rich history of the brand. But it also shows how far it has come since the brand’s resurrection.
While the new interior style feels luxurious, it is more like your favorite cashmere sweater than a high-end Armani suit. “Homey” wouldn’t be the right word to describe it, but you do feel at home in this new A. Lange & Söhne boutique.
The brand could very well have created a pretentious place, which wouldn’t even be that pretentious given its reputation and the extremely high quality of its watches. But it is anything but pretentious. It is a place of history and heritage, where like-minded people can come to admire craftsmanship, technical ingenuity, and perseverance, all presented in a proud but humble way.
Even if an A. Lange & Söhne may be financially out of reach, the boutique is still a place where you feel comfortable browsing through the many display cases and intriguing installations that explain part of the history or how a specific component is created or finished.
Yes, watches are sold here, but in a very organic way.
Datograph Up/Down Lumen: the A. Lange & Söhne sports watch that isn’t a sports watch
A. Lange & Söhne also used the (re-)opening of the boutique to launch the Datograph Up/Down Lumen, a platinum-encased limited edition of 200 pieces that is about as close to a sports watch as the brand has ever come.
To me, this shows how well A. Lange & Söhne has established and respected its “DNA,” staying loyal to it. For many high-tier brands, steel sports watches are the big money makers, but A. Lange & Söhne has never moved in that direction. Not even ever launching a regular-production steel watch.
Instead, the brand’s designers have decided to take illumination past the gimmick that it so easily could have become. Superb design matched with equally superb craftsmanship has ensured this element retains the aura of a serious watch.
While I consider the regular version of the Datograph Up/Down to be one of the best and most beautiful current-production chronographs money can buy, the Lumen adds to its charm – and does so by day and by night!
Under regular lighting conditions, the “white” subdials provide a sporty look as they seem to float against the transparent dial that provides the watch with a more technical look than the regular version.
When the lights go down, those same subdials light up – along with the chronograph’s second hand, the large date, and the outer ring outfitted with a tachymeter. It sounds like a bit much, but it looks very balanced and also makes the watch significantly different than the regular version of the Datograph Up/Down.
Of course, not much else has changed on this watch: the case size is still the same as is the movement. As both were as close to perfect as a human-made product can be, there are no complaints there. Thanks to the platinum case, the watch has a pleasant heft on the wrist.
It feels substantial, like a sports watch!
One of the things that has always made me so affectionate toward A. Lange & Söhne is also displayed in both the watch and the boutique: while the brand and its people are rightfully proud of their accomplishments, they share instead of showing off – this was illustrated by the complete lack of celebrities and “influencers” at the boutique opening. Just press and clients mingling, discussing the products of a brand that can be seen as not only an illuminating example of resurrection but also one that knows that its “DNA” goes beyond cheeky marketing and ballooning sales figures.
So maybe that lucky break in the weather was caused by Walter Lange and co-refounder Günter Blümlein looking down from the heavens, smiling as their mutual legacy continues to grow to new heights with outstanding watches like this one.
For more information, please visit www.alange-soehne.com.
Quick Facts A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Up/Down Lumen
Case: 41 x 13.4 mm, platinum
Movement: manual-winding Caliber L951.7, 60-hour power reserve, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; large date, chronograph
Limitation: 200 pieces