Watch Wardrobing The WIS Way With The A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst
Watch wardrobing is a fairly new idea: one watch today, another watch tomorrow, changing them out according to your mood, outfit, or intended activity.
While the Urban Dictionary use of “wardrobing” can mean purchasing an item, wearing it once, and then returning it, that is not how I mean it here. I mean wardrobing in the sense of deciding your outfit and needs for the day, then determining which watch from your own collection works best to complement that.
Or, as it is often the case with me, choosing the watch I want to represent my mood first then picking an outfit that goes with the watch. Yes, I do that – and I’d be surprised if many of my WIS friends didn’t do the same.
A. Lange & Söhne recently released three new watches that I think are perfect examples for the art of WIS wardrobing. Here, I discuss the Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst in depth, while tomorrow I’ll come back to the Langematik Perpetual and Saxonia Thin with aventurine dial. Then on Thursday, July 22, please join us on Clubhouse as we discuss wardrobing all three of these watches live.
A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst: elegant extravagance
You are heading to a special event for the evening. You’re feeling elegant, you’re a fan of decorative arts, and you also have a real penchant for classic mechanics with a twist. What do you wear on your wrist?
I can’t think of many watches to suit the formal attire you’re bound to be donning better than A. Lange & Söhne’s new Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst.
And if it were me, I’d be certain to wear three-quarter sleeves so as to better leave the view of this elegantly shaped beauty free all night long!
Housed in platinum, the rectangular rarity offers heft on the wrist, reminding you it’s there, but stays safely in the background without drawing too much attention to itself thanks to the white metal. The dark grey coloring of the dial exudes classic taste, and its Handwerkskunst decoration is symbolic of the special occasion you’ve acquired this watch for and the special occasion you’re likely to be attending when you wear it.
A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst: a little history
The rectangular Cabaret arrived in A. Lange & Söhne’s collection in 1997, and the Cabaret Tourbillon was introduced in 2008, but neither of them have been part of the regular A. Lange & Söhne collection for a while now. The Cabaret Tourbillon was discontinued in 2013.
The Cabaret, as the only shaped watch in A. Lange & Söhne’s collection following 1994’s Arkade, was something of a flamboyant personality, and remains so, which makes me doubly glad that A. Lange & Söhne has brought it back in this special form – and gives me hope that it won’t be the last time.
Handwerkskunst watches have been released periodically since 2011, bringing texture with them that the watches of A. Lange & Söhne had not known to that point, showcasing at first a style of engraving known as tremblage, which is the result of a deep and randomly granulated surface made by hand.
Tremblage engraving requires a specially shaped burin to engrave micro-sized cuts into the dial surface one at a time, unevenly spaced and randomly rotated to many different directions. When cuts in different orientations and spacing crisscross and blend together, they result in a unique and detail-rich texture. Ten years later, that is only one small ingredient on the dial of the Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, though.
This watch’s complicated 18-karat white gold dial – made, by the way, within A. Lange & Söhne’s own factory – also displays another decorative technique that has characterized the Handwerkskunst timepieces: high-fire enamel. This is in addition to the lozenge-patterned engraving style of the inner dial that is inspired by the watch’s white gold lozenge-shaped hour markers.
A very thin strip of tremblage engraving separates the lozenge-embellished inner dial from the outer and also graces the hand arbor and window with mullion outlining the large date. The grained grey dial with subdials (and hands) crafted in rhodium-plated gold is coated with a semitransparent layer of high-fire enamel.
The effect is a very light sparkle across the dial, with the eye immediately drawn to the lozenge-engraved part of it housing the large date as the main act, only hitting the window revealing the tourbillon a bit later, perhaps as a second headliner.
The translation of the German word “Handwerkskunst” is “the art of craftsmanship,” and the A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is the seventh watch in this appropriately named series.
A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst: hacking technology
Back in 2008, A. Lange & Söhne became the first watch brand able to “stop” a tourbillon to have it “hack.” Though there have been several interesting innovations added to the tourbillon since it first moved to the wrist in 1986, not one watchmaker had found a way to make the tourbillon hack until A. Lange & Söhne introduced the Cabaret Tourbillon.
What does hacking mean? Well, when you pull out the crown on a hacking watch, the second hand stops so that the time can be set to the precise second. Unfortunately, not all mechanical watches are outfitted with this convenient extra, even though in most cases it requires just one additional part near the winding stem.
The tourbillon is often combined with a display of seconds since its complete rotation takes precisely one minute. This is a logical feature that tourbillon makers have incorporated for more than two centuries. However, tourbillon makers had not yet come up with a way to make a tourbillon hack for precision setting.
So even though the tourbillon was invented to improve the precision of a (pocket) watch, it has always had this one big drawback: it couldn’t be set precisely to the second.
Back in 2008, Caliber L042.1 of the Cabaret Tourbillon was A. Lange & Söhne’s fourth tourbillon movement and it innovatively included hacking seconds to ensure superior setting accuracy.
Two talented movement designers at A. Lange & Söhne – Annegret Fleischer and Helmut Geyer, both now retired – took up the challenge of developing a hacking tourbillon in 2004. Using a simple approach, Fleischer and Geyer decided the only viable alternative was to instantaneously brake the balance wheel inside the tourbillon cage using a stainless steel spring so delicate that it isn’t visible to the naked eye.
Stopping an oscillating balance wheel in a tourbillon escapement seems like an impossibility, especially if one of the three posts might be in the way at the time. The solution: pulling out the crown activates some complex linkage that has the steel lever – which is outfitted with two V-shaped spring arms – come into contact with the outer rim of the balance wheel. Which stops immediately.
To avoid trouble should one of the arms land on one of the posts, the delicate spring is hinged at a rotation point of the brake lever. In other words, it doesn’t matter if the spring rests against the post or not; its other arm will still hit the wheel and stop it just as reliably as if both had done the job.
The shape of this double-armed spring was determined by extensive testing, and the special form ensures that contact pressure is optimal in any conceivable position. This invention is patented.
The Cabaret Tourbillon has a power reserve of 120 hours, or five days, when fully wound thanks to twin spring barrels. An extremely practical power reserve indicator located on the dial at 4 o’clock (“ab und auf”) lets the wearer know when it’s time to wind again.
The triangle formed by the tourbillon cutaway and subdials for subsidiary seconds and power reserve balance out the double-digit large date found opposite it. Available in a platinum case 29.5 x 39.2 x 10.25 mm in size, Caliber L042.1 – which is shaped to match the case – comprises 370 components, 47 of which are jewels (two of these are diamond endstones) and 84 of which belong to the tourbillon escapement.
A hand-engraved lozenge pattern continues on the back of the watch, gracing the tourbillon and intermediate wheel cocks in German silver, while the large top plate in German silver has a grained finish.
For more information, please visit alange-soehne.com/en/timepieces/cabaret-tourbillon-handwerkskunst/cabaret-tourbillon-handwerkskunst.
Quick Facts A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret Tourbillon Handwerkskunst
Case: 29.5 x 39.2 x 10.3 mm, platinum
Dial: 18-karat white gold with hand-engraved lozenge pattern, semi-transparent enamel
Movement: hand-wound Caliber L042.1 with patented hacking one-minute tourbillon, assembled twice, three-quarter plate in German silver, 120-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, Lange balance spring; two diamond endstones, 9 screw-mounted gold chatons
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; large date, power reserve indication
Limitation: 30 pieces with engraved number of limitation