Why I Bought It: A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold Homage to F.A. Lange
Does anyone here remember A. Lange & Söhne?
Okay, I’ll admit that’s a moderately outrageous and intentionally provocative statement. For those “in the know,” and especially for the tight group of collectors whose assortments can be fairly described as “indies plus Lange,” the brand and its products never went anywhere.
That said, for a while the Glashütte concern did seem to be treading water a bit with big (and large) halo pieces like the Terraluna seeming a bit much to comprehend, the rest of the line consisting of modest tweaks to old favorites, and A. Lange & Söhne largely absent from the buzz surrounding other notable brands.
More recently, though, A. Lange & Söhne has been on a roll. For me, the roots of this “recent” success reach back to late 2017 with the introduction of the deeply emotion-driven 1815 Homage to Walter Lange.
The next big jump, and perhaps the one most visible to the watch enthusiast community as a whole, was in late 2019 with the Odysseus in steel. And now A. Lange & Söhne is very much a brand of the moment with astronomical recent auction results for a pair of first-generation Pour le Mérite Tourbillons and rave reviews for their 2021 Watches and Wonders launches.
Along the way, in September 2020 Lange made another splash with three limited edition pieces in the brand’s proprietary Honeygold in commemoration of the 175th anniversary of Glashütte watchmaking: the 1815 Thin Honeygold Homage to F.A. Lange; a Honeygold version of 2017’s Tourbograph Perpetual Calendar; and a watch that immediately captured my eye and wallet: the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold.
Why I bought the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold Homage to F.A. Lange and how it fits
When it comes to Lange, I’m a bit of a contrarian (or at least I was until the recent fervor for the Datograph broke out). I’ve never owned a Lange 1, even though several pieces in that family, including the Lange 1 Time Zone, have come close over the years, and the newest Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar is calling to me as well.
I consider myself fortunate to own a yellow gold example of Walter Lange’s daily wearer, the Pour le Mérite Tourbillon. But otherwise it’s been the firm’s chronographs that have been front and center with me, including a first-generation Datograph in pink gold, first-generation Datograph Perpetual Calendar in white gold, a platinum example of the reference that I dubbed the “mighty” Double Split, and now the 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold.
While I’d certainly been aware of A. Lange & Söhne’s other references with seconds-only rattrapantes, the Tourbographs and Rattrapante Perpetual were just not for me given both their heft and price. But when I saw the announcement of the new 1815 Rattrapante reference in a wearable 41.2 mm size and with both a Honeygold case and that incredibly tasty black-and-gold dial treatment, I was on the horn to my rep at the A. Lange & Söhne boutique faster than you can say “twofold assembly.”
From a portfolio perspective, this one is most definitely in the “foundational” category: a watch of enduring horological value that can serve as a cornerstone piece in any collection. And it serves as a great companion piece to the other A. Lange & Söhne watches in my current assortment, as well as a Teutonic counterpoint to the enamel-dialed Patek Philippe Reference 5370P rattrapante to which I’ll surely be comparing it in these pages sometime soon.
Why I love the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold Homage to F.A. Lange
It’s a bit unusual for me to be writing this soon about a newly acquired piece – this one only arrived a little over a week ago – so I’ll reserve the right to add pluses and minuses in future articles once this watch has gotten substantial wrist time.
Already, though, there are several reasons why I can say that I’m smitten with this watch:
Just look at it: Seriously, just take a look at the dial side of that watch!
I’ve been a fan of A. Lange & Söhne’s Honeygold since its inception, but to me it looks even better enclosing the Rattrapante’s black dial than in the silvered-dial watches it has previously encased. A. Lange & Söhne has also done something very clever with the dial printing and colored gold hands, executing those in a pinker gold to provide a bit of visual contrast and to avoid having the front side of the piece appear too matchy-matchy and bland.
While I’ve seen one review that was critical of the red highlights utilized for the signature 1815 trefoils at 3, 6, 9, and 12, I’m a big fan and find that on the life-sized watch they provide just a hint of subtle emphasis. And the gold printing itself is incredibly lush, looking for all the world like piped-on golden frosting.
I also quite like the classical but by modern standards unusual dial layout with registers north and south and the inscription “Glashütte in Sachsen” bridging the dial east and west. Once again, life-size is different than gigantic macro closeups, with the arrangement of subdials and words giving a four-sector look to the dial that is both orderly and appealing. In addition, if in the future I’m trying to drive to Glashütte, the dial inscription will serve as a suitable reminder to ensure that I head for the one in Saxony.
Patrimony meets modernity: In its modern incarnation, A. Lange & Söhne issued its first references in 1994. So, while other brands have been reaching back into their archives for various re-editions and homage pieces, there has been an open question as to how A. Lange & Söhne might draw on its own earlier history while remaining contemporary.
For me, the 1815 Rattrapante bridges this divide deftly with the use of modern movement construction and the ultra-hard Honeygold alloy integrated with the earlier-style dial arrangement and the use of frosted movement finishes reminiscent of top-quality A. Lange & Söhne pocket watches of the 1800s.
To be quite honest I wasn’t quite sure how I’d react to the frosting as I’m so used to A. Lange & Söhne’s assertive striped finishes. However, at least after the first week’s viewing, I’m finding that the softer frosted look, complemented by relatively subtle bridge engravings and punctuated with bright steel levers, works well and makes this watch stand out from the other Lange watches I own.
Lange quality: While this A. Lange & Söhne watch does depart from others in some ways, the quality hallmarks of the brand are still very much in place, from the screwed chatons and black-polished steel escapement cap to blued screws, bright-polished bevels, and a few well-executed interior angles.
Rattrapante functionality: I’ve been a sucker for split chronograph functions for a long time and have owned a Habring Doppel 2.0 as well as pieces I’ve mentioned from A. Lange & Söhne and Patek Philippe.
The pusher feel of the 1815 Rattrapante is positive and consistent across start-stop, split, and return-to-zero pushers, which is no mean feat. Having actuated the chronograph a bunch of times, I have yet to see any evidence whatsoever of shudder in the chronograph hand, unlike most chronographs I’ve checked out – and remember, on a rattrapante we’re talking about two hands moving away from zero simultaneously.
The vertical alignment of the split hands, another tricky challenge, seems spot on as well, both at rest and in motion. And while not everyone loves A. Lange & Söhne’s use of the 10 o’clock position for the rattrapante actuation pusher, I found that it worked well for me on the Double Split. The pusher at 10 for a variety of functions is so much a “Lange thing” that I haven’t given it a second thought.
I’ll bring up a few possible quibbles here that obviously didn’t keep me from buying this watch: in my dreams, the 1815 Rattrapante would have the buttery-smooth pusher actuation, flyback functionality, and instantly jumping minutes indication of the Double Split.
That likely would have resulted in the need for a bulkier form for this watch, however, and as tradeoffs go, I’m pleased to accept a bit of compromise on ultra-functionality in favor of wearability. I also think it would be just a bit unfair to ding A. Lange & Söhne on one hand for making a string of all-singing, all-dancing complicated watches while on the other complaining about a piece that amply demonstrates that at times less is indeed more.
Scarcity: I’m still grappling with whether I believe that real (as opposed to false) scarcity is an attractive attribute in a watch, but as I try to be honest here I’ll confess that the limitation of this watch to a total production run of 100 pieces for the world was a plus for me as I evaluated it, and that I was very pleased indeed to receive an allocation for it.
There’s a tiny bit of the lure of exclusivity involved, but for me the idea of spending this kind of hard-earned cash on any watch also becomes simpler if I have some hope that I’m not going to “get hurt” too badly on its future value when the time comes to sell.
Any other quibbles?
It looks great, sits splendidly on the wrist, and houses one of my favorite complications, all in a limited edition that has been praised by pretty much everyone who has seen it. What’s not to like?
I’ve already talked above about the small functional tradeoffs involved in this watch. From a visual standpoint that is also related to function, there is what I can only call “That Spring.” The coiled wire spring that is part of the rattrapante mechanism is barely visible to the naked eye and critical to the performance of the watch, but I dearly wish that A. Lange & Söhne had somehow positioned it behind the central bridge that bears the engraved “36 Rubine” marking.
While I’m at it, I do prefer to wear deployant buckles on my A. Lange & Söhne pieces rather than the tang buckle standard with the 1815; perhaps for Christmas some year, Santa will arrive with a Honeygold deployant, which would be fun to have on its own merits.
Is it right for you?
While this run of watches has been sold out for a while, you may at some point have the chance to buy a pre-owned example. And while I don’t have any inside information, I suspect that A. Lange & Söhne might also release a non-limited version of the Rattrapante in another metal or metals with a movement bearing standard A. Lange & Söhne finishes.
When that time comes, you might consider taking the leap if:
- You’ve wanted a major complication from A. Lange & Söhne and at the same time place a high premium on wearability.
- For the Honeygold version, the black with gold aesthetics of the watch are as stunning to you as they are to me.
- You find that the balance of form and function both suits your collection and compares favorably with other options including the A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split and Patek Philippe Reference 5370P.
On the other hand, you might choose to pass if:
- The added performance attributes of A. Lange & Söhne’s flyback, instantly jumping chronograph references are what fill your dreams at night.
- For the Honeygold version, you don’t find the A. Lange & Söhne patrimony frosted finishing to your taste.
- You’re not sure why anyone would want a split-seconds chronograph when few people even use the stopwatch functions on their regular chronographs.
I’ll welcome your thoughts on this piece, and on your own favorite chronograph watches, in the comments section below. In the meantime, happy wearing!
Quick Facts A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold Homage to F.A. Lange Reference 425.050
Case: 41.2 x 12.6 mm, proprietary Honeygold with polished and brushed bezels and brushed case band; sapphire front and rear crystals
Dial and hands: black-treated solid silver dial with gold printed indices; pink gold, white gold, rhodium-plated steel, and gold-plated steel hands
Movement: manually wound Caliber L101.2; 58-hour power reserve; 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency, twice assembled, frosted finish
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; rattrapante chronograph seconds, 30-minute chronograph
Limitation: 100 numbered pieces, sold only through A. Lange & Söhne boutiques
Production years: 2020-2021
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You got one? Whew, first time I’ve seen it on the wrist. It’s magnificent (the 2nd wristshot is perfect for showing that) – a very serious-looking watch; there’s not a trace of playfulness or romance to be found. It’s almost intimidating, like I’d be shy to make too much eye contact with it. But I’d have to…
You lucky, lucky man.
Credit to de Haas and his team, they just keep succeeding in design. The Lange 1 Perpetual, too.
Thanks, Gav! Very happy to have this one, and agree entirely that Tony and his team have been on a real roll.
As you say, it is a serious piece!
Might it be premature to classify this piece as “a watch of enduring horological value”?
Thanks for commenting! Perhaps I should have used the term “horological merit” instead, as that’s really what I’m referring to (not anything having to do with financial value) — and on that basis, I feel confident in saying this one will have a lasting position in important collections (and mine as well).
You mentioning that you might need to sell and the hope you won’t “get hurt” ,well it made laugh for a moment, thanks for that ! Congratulations on the lottery win !
One can never predict. But the likelihood of getting ‘hurt’ on a LE of 100 pieces is significantly less than that of the same models ‘regular’ production run which might be inevitable.
I’m not so sure, Ray! With watches as with other luxury items, what goes up (or is scarce today) often surely comes down or becomes seen as commonplace. And at these prices, the prospect of getting hurt is very real and certainly to be avoided if possible…
I read the entire article, and thoroughly enjoyed it, and also believe I learnt some valuable lessons in collecting. I have always admired and appreciated your thought process when it comes to collecting, especially in todays day and age where it seems ‘Hype’ combined with ‘Huge Resale Prospects’ and also ‘FOMO’ seem to be key drivers.
I love this watch, and reading your piece I think I love it even more. Because you have a way of ‘humanising watches’ in ways (both the pros and cons) which makes them all the more ‘real’.
Also interesting to leant that you like the Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar. I am in love with that one too; and unlike most, I like the ‘regular’ one in rose gold case and slate grey dial more than the LE version in White Gold with Salmon Dial. While it is way beyond what I can afford now, it seems amazingly priced for what it is. And I can fully picture it being part of your stellar collection at some point.
Thanks very much for your kind and informative comments, Kunal! I’m glad that my writing helps to make this watch and others real, for both good and bad as you say.
I’m with you on the L1 Perpetual — if at some point I took the plunge it would very likely be for the rose/grey as it’s the one that (at least from pictures) speaks to me. That said, I’ll need a while to absorb this one!