Wrist Watching: Former President Bill Clinton Sporting A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Pour Le Mérite
by Nick Gould
Today we look at what’s on the wrist of the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton, an avid watch collector publicly having sported timepieces by Audemars Piguet, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, Kobold, and Vulcain among others.
Today’s article focuses on a watch he wears by German watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne. And this is not the first time he has worn a watch by this brand: I spotted Clinton wearing a Grand Langematik Gangreserve in platinum back in 2015, a watch limited to just 100 pieces in that metal (along with 100 pieces in yellow gold and 25 in pink gold).
The most recent watch by A. Lange & Söhne to grace Clinton’s wrist is the Richard Lange Pour le Mérite.
Clinton wore this watch at the end of last year, but the event he was attending was a somber one – the funeral of President George Bush – so it did not feel right to post about it. I did some more searching, however, and found him wearing this same watch at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York on September 26, 2018.
The Richard Lange Pour le Mérite features a 40.5 mm white gold case with contrasting black solid silver dial with white Roman numerals, red-accented minute markers at 15, 30, 45, and 60, and a subdial for seconds at the 6 o’clock position.
To the casual observer, it may seem quite plain looking, but for those in the know it’s the movement, visible through the sapphire crystal case back, that really lights this watch up.
Exquisitely finished, Caliber L044.1 is a hand-wound movement featuring a fusée-and-chain subassembly, created according to an early constant force mechanism for improving accuracy. Today’s version – which A. Lange & Söhne revived for use in its 1994-introduced Pour le Mérite Tourbillon and consequent line – is essentially a miniature chain comprising 636 tiny parts that wraps around a cone-shaped gear called the fusée (“rocket” in French), providing constant torque to the escapement as the mainspring unwinds.
This is a great piece of engineering that is little used today because of its complexity to manufacture and need for space. See more in The Fusée And Chain: From Function To Fashion In 4 Wristwatches From A. Lange & Söhne, Breguet, Zenith, And Romain Gauthier.
For more on this watch, please visit www.alange-soehne.com/en/timepieces/richard-lange-pour-le-merite.
Quick Facts A. Lange & Söhne Richard Lange Pour le Mérite
Case: 40.5 x 10.7 mm, white gold
Movement: manually-wound Caliber L044.1, 36-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, fusée and chain subassembly, German silver plates and bridges, Glashütte-style three-quarter plate
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds
Limitation: 218 pieces