Behind The Lens: Two 1815 Chronographs From A. Lange & Söhne
Can you imagine buying a watch bracelet and then searching for the right watch to pair with it? Seems a bit far fetched, but that’s exactly what a good friend of mine did a few years ago.
He’s been a collector of watches by A. Lange & Söhne for years, and over that time became fascinated with the precious-metal bracelets made for the brand by German jeweler Wellendorff. Not many were produced and they are not easy to find, but my pal picked up two fitted bracelets: one in platinum and the other in white gold.
The problem was, he didn’t have the proper A. Lange & Söhne watches to fit either bracelet exactly! These fitted bracelets have curved end links designed to precisely fit specific lug widths and case diameters, and he of course was disinclined to buy a watch he didn’t absolutely love just to match the dimensions of his bracelets.
Enter the Boutique Edition 1815 Chronograph in white gold: this limited production watch introduced in 2015 returned the look of this reference from the open visual of the second-generation 1815 Chronograph to a more cluttered look similar to that of the first-generation piece much to the delight of many die-hard Lange fans – including my friend.
As it turns out he’s also a medical doctor, so A. Lange & Söhne’s choice to reintroduce a pulsometer scale around the perimeter of the dial was also very much to his liking.
In addition to looking cool when worn on the precious metal bracelet (that’s my wrist in the first photo above), the look of this watch has a lot of other things going for it visually.
I find the silver dial particularly interesting with its main surfaces showing a subtle pebbled look and the grooved subdials providing a pearlescent effect. And there’s the very tasty and heavily applied blue pigment of the numerals and other indices that in turn picks up the deep blue of the watch’s minor hands.
Seen on a dark leather strap, the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition is for me just as striking as it is on the gold bracelet and definitely more wearable for everyday business than the blingier bracelet version.
That’s a good thing, as in 2017 A. Lange & Söhne took another step popular with die-hard Lange fans by introducing another white gold version of the 1815 Chronograph, this one with a mouth-watering all-black dial.
It just goes to show how details matter: first-generation black-dialed 1815s featured silver subdials as on the black-dialed Datograph and Double Split, and the switch from silver to black in this updated version makes for a leaner, more dramatic look.
Faster than you can say “spring bars,” that white gold bracelet found its way onto the black-dialed piece, making for a power watch if ever there was one.
I’ve read that some folks think the all-black treatment makes this watch a bit too “Patek Philippe-like” in the vein of Reference 5370P and particularly Reference 5170G. I’ll confess that I can see the point, but at the same time the distinctive fonts used and design codes such as the three-dot markers at 12, 3, 6, and 9 make this piece unmistakably Lange-like for me.
While the black-dialed version obviously lacks the color contrasts of the Boutique Edition, it has its own visual interest with the dial on four distinct layers (pulsometer, hour and minute ring, central dial, and subdials) and light-catching circular grooves on the subdials themselves.
Around back of both watches it’s what we’ve come to expect from an A. Lange & Söhne chronograph: a tiny, finely detailed city under glass featuring a wide array of finishing techniques that invite the eye to linger while we operate the pushers and watch the chronograph movement do its tricks.
Shooting the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronographs
If you’d asked me before I set up the light tent to shoot these two beauties, I’d have guessed that the black-dialed white-metal watch would give me fits and the Boutique Edition with its largely matte-textured dial and clear color contrasts would be straightforward.
In the event, it turned out to be pretty much the opposite! While the visual elements including the rhodium-plated gold hands on the Boutique Edition were quite distinct visually, the dial itself tended to exhibit a confounding array of color casts, from cyans and greens near the perimeter of the dial to odd yellowish tones within the shadows that the main hands throw on dial.
I corrected some of this in post-processing to make the images look as much like the actual watch as possible, but at the same time I didn’t want to desaturate the images so much that the subtle colors that are there vanish into a seemingly white-on-platinum rendering.
Closer shots like the one above were somewhat easier to manage and provide a clearer impression of the creamy color of the dial, sky-blue markings, and subtle surface treatments.
By contrast (literally and figuratively) the camera (in this instance the Hasselblad X1D) absolutely loved the black/silver/white tones of the other watch.
Certainly it helped that the dial indications are printed in white and not the diabolical-to-shoot polished white metal indices of some other watches. But other elements of the 1815 Chronograph such as the bombé (domed) shapes of the hands and the light-catching transitions between the different vertical layers of the dial helped as well.
And that bracelet! It turned out that even though its surface is highly polished, the pronounced curves and alternating flat surfaces of the individual links help to break the view of the bracelet into light and dark sectors while keeping those nasty, overly bright, blown-out elements at bay.
So, which one for you? I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments section on the relative merits of these two versions of a true A. Lange & Söhne classic and of course your views on how the bracelet suits them: ultimate sport or hot-weather watch or over the top?
For more on the 1815 Chronograph line please visit www.alange-soehne.com/en/timepieces/1815-chronograph.
Quick Facts A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph
Reference numbers: 414.026 (Boutique Edition) and 414.028 (black dial pulsometer version)
Case: 39.5 x 11 mm; white gold
Dial: solid silver; Boutique Edition with rhodium-plated gold and blued steel hands and blue printed indices on silvered background; pulsometer version with rhodium-plated gold hands and white printed indices on black
Movement: manually wound Caliber L951.5 with free-sprung balance; several jewels set in gold chatons; 60-hour power reserve; frequency 18,000 vph/2.5 Hz
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking subsidiary seconds; 30-minute flyback chronograph with instantaneously jumping minutes
Price: €50,000 including German VAT
Production years: 2015 onward (Boutique Edition); 2017 onward (black dial pulsometer)
Limitation: Boutique Edition limited production (but not limited edition) and available only through A. Lange & Söhne boutiques; pulsometer version not limited