LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One: Gerd-Rüdiger Lang’s Fascination Of Mechanics Continues

The two days I spent in a posh hotel on Germany’s breathtaking Tegernsee learning about the LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One were filled with all kinds of emotion.

I was filled with expectation ahead of the event, filled with nostalgia while the event was taking place, and definitely filled with some relief and excitement (as well as perhaps a little pride in the work of friends I have known for decades) when I discovered that the watch I had been longing to see fulfilled every single expectation and ticked every box I hoped it would.

The author’s first look at the LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One

Now that’s a lot of feelings to throw at you all in one paragraph, so allow me to back up and explain why all this was roiling inside of me at a watch launch. For a new brand very few other people had ever heard of until then.

Who is behind LANG 1943?

This all has to do with the people behind LANG 1943, people being the main ingredient of good watchmaking as GaryG likes to say.

Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, the author, and Georg Bartkowiak at the launch of LANG 1943

First and foremost Georg Bartkowiak, a creative designer and behind-the-scenes “maker.” You may know him as the former CEO of boutique brand Grieb & Benzinger. Bartkowiak and I live quite close to each other and share interests that go above and beyond watches. Our lives have been intertwined in a friendly way for a couple of decades now.

Bartkowiak was a big fan of the original Chronoswiss brand. And anyone who follows my social media knows that I am too. I have seen Bartkowiak’s growing friendship with Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, founder of Chronoswiss, blossoming over the last 20 years and watched how some of his watch sketches became reminiscent of Chronoswiss in its heyday. Like many of us watch fans, Bartkowiak missed these classic watches and felt there was still a place for them.

A selection of classic Chronoswiss watches worn at the LANG 1943 launch event (photo courtesy Miguel Seabra)

One of Bartkowiak’s notable early collaborations with Lang was the Chronoswiss Zeitzeichen, a collaborative watch that appears to still be in Chronoswiss’s catalogue even though this company has been under new ownership since 2012 (more on that below).

Bartkowiak had the idea for LANG 1943 several years ago. It took him some time to get the right partners to aid in financing and infrastructure for the venture. But once that was worked out, it was all systems go. And he’s been off like a rocket, designing and working on prototypes throughout the pandemic so that there must be hundreds of ideas on paper and in prototype dials and cases, some of which I’m sure we’ll be seeing emerge over the next few years.

The cherry on top of all of this crazy creativity is that Gerd-Rüdiger Lang agreed to become the new brand’s consultant and ambassador. Therefore, 79-year-old Lang was also present at the intimate launch event at Tegernsee – along with his wife, Antonia Lang, and Bartkowiak’s wife and three-month-old son. This was truly a family affair – and yet another example of how meaningful these people are to each other. Like family. And that really shines through, not just in the way all the partners interact with each other, but in the watches as well.

Reminiscing at the LANG 1943 launch with Miguel Seabra, the author, Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, and Antonia Lang

The LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One vibrates with nostalgia, a desire for perfection (in good Chronoswiss tradition!), and the honorific glory that Bartkowiak always wishes to bestow upon Lang, a watchmaker who everyone in the German watch industry not only looks up to, but venerates.

The brand’s name – LANG 1943 – is a direct homage to Lang, with 1943 being his birth year.

Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, founder of Chronoswiss

Gerd-Rüdiger Lang was also one of the first important watchmakers I met after my own entrée into the watch industry in 1991 (working for a German watch magazine at the time, it would have been nearly impossible to get around him). My own “education” in this specialized world of ticks and tocks would have been far poorer without ever having known him, that’s for certain.

I was young and inexperienced, and I’ll admit that his stoic, introverted manner at times threw me. But I learned to respect his way of doing things as I matured in watch years, and two Chronoswiss classics became my first “good” watches. One of them I still wear to this day on a regular basis, more than 20 years later.

Two women (including the author) wearing the classic Chronoswiss Opus at the launch of LANG 1943

I learned what is important for making good, solid watches from Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, who could spend hours lecturing on the exact length an hour or minute hand should be, why a certain movement was chosen to power a given watch over another, and why he prioritized the experience his customers had with his watches. The movements were always easy to have serviced, the crowns were always easily grippable and turned easily to wind and set, and one could ALWAYS see the movement on the back of the watch through a pane of sapphire crystal. Today’s ubiquitous display backs were rare in the early 1990s.

Not many people mention this anymore, but in the annals of watch history it is noted that Gerd-Rüdiger Lang was the first watchmaker to put transparent case backs on his wristwatches. At the time, he told me during the Tegernsee launch, he chose not to patent this. Instead, he left it available for other watchmakers to use in the hopes that clients could see the watchmaker’s work inside the case and become fascinated by the mechanics. On the Chronoswiss Opus – the world’s first machine-skeletonized watch – we can even see the movement from the front.

The LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One naturally sports a transparent case back to show off its refurbished Marvin 700 caliber

As time progressed, the transparent case back became so ubiquitous in wristwatches that people forgot who did it first, and Lang’s name is not generally remembered in conjunction with this important design element, which is a shame. But it is true. (The same might also be said of the annual calendar, which is a Patek Philippe invention.)

Every year I looked forward to the inevitable Saturday night dinner at Baselworld that Lang’s brand Chronoswiss held to celebrate the year’s new watches, a dinner whose guest list grew with each passing year until he was renting out entire restaurants and greeting guests from every corner of the world, who came to pay homage to this master of details. Even those dinners felt like family affairs despite their later size. It was always friends and “family” there.

If you were a fan of pre-2012 Chronoswiss you surely understand what I’ve written here. If you came to watches later, you might not be able to believe the influence this man’s ideals had on what has become today’s watches – it’s rarely mentioned anymore. So I’ll leave you with a personal anecdote that might illustrate how widespread his influence was during the halcyon days of Chronoswiss.

Around the same time I was getting into watches, my husband and I were starting to discover the joys of visiting vineyards on the weekends to taste and learn about wine. It remains one of our delights to this day, and one we have at times shared with Georg Bartkowiak – certainly not coincidentally as we live in Baden, a leading German wine region with sun-kissed grapes.

The LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One next to a classic Chronoswiss Opus

Germany and nearby France must have thousands of little vineyards, and to me there is hardly a better way to spend a weekend than going through a cellar with a winemaker, hearing stories, and tasting the hard-won results of meticulous efforts. Sometime in the 1990s we discovered Otmar Zang in Sommerach, a tiny producer, but one whose wines we find very agreeable. Our infrequent trips to this adorable village in Franken are always charming. Otmar has now handed his vineyard down to his son, Johannes, who has learned his father’s art of winemaking well.

We landed on Otmar’s mailing list in the 1990s and annually received a price list and cover letter in the mail. One year, I think my jaw hit the floor as I read through the cover letter: Otmar had started it out by philosophizing on the precision of watchmaking and how it relates to his winemaking, beginning with a quote from Gerd-Rüdiger Lang!

Some time later, on one of our visits to Zang’s winery, I asked Otmar whether he knew Lang. The answer was no, but that he really admired Lang’s philosophy. And so it went: just a decade after founding Chronoswiss, Lang’s influence had reached other artisanal trades, a fact whose significance never escaped me. But I digress.

Lang sold Chronoswiss in 2012 at the age of 69 after becoming one of the architects of the mechanical renaissance, enjoying the fruit of his many labors during the boom of the next years and, ensuingly, an epic economic downturn during which he had undertaken building a beautiful new factory on the outskirts of Munich. The new owners of Chronoswiss chose not to use it. They also chose not to take over the many thousands of vintage ébauches (raw movements) that Lang had bought with much foresight in the 1980s – some of which he used in special Chronoswiss watches, but the bulk of which were still stored as new old stock.

It is these vintage ébauches that now form the foundation of the new LANG 1943 watches.

Why the LANG 1943 launch watch is not a chronograph or a regulator

Aside from being a watchmaker, Gerd-Rüdiger Lang was always a collector of watches. He appreciates all kinds of timepieces, but chronographs have always been his one true love, which is reflected in his 850-piece collection of chronographs. He wrote the book on the chronograph. Literally.

Yet the LANG 1943 team chose to launch the new brand with a rejuvenated field watch design. And the reason why lies in the nature of these movements that Lang had the foresight to buy entire stores of in the 1980s at the height of the quartz crisis.

LANG 1943 Caliber L431, which is based on Marvin Caliber 700 from the 1960s

One of the rescued reserves of movements is the entire remaining stock of Marvin Caliber 700, which was made in the 1960s. Lang bought the whole inventory of these movements, only a few of which were used in limited editions of Chronoswiss watches like the Orea and the Régulateur 24 (Lang was also the first to use the regulator style in a wristwatch). Lang wanted to keep these movements for special occasions. “That was our good luck,” Bartkowiak explained of the remaining movements. “At the same time, we have also invested in their further development and executions. There will be chronographs and regulators based on this Marvin movement in the future, but that all takes time.”

Chronoswiss Régulateur 24 from 2009 was powered by a refurbished and modified Marvin Caliber 700

I have learned that independent watchmaker Andreas Strehler is involved in the development of LANG 1943’s Marvin-based regulator, which is an excellent sign of quality as well as a nod to Lang’s past: Strehler was involved in developing the Chronoswiss Chronoscope, which was incidentally also introduced in 2009. The new regulator will probably be arriving as early as 2023. The chronograph, however, which will be integrated into the Marvin ébauche, needs about two more years. “It’s a logical watch for us to make, considering our history,” Bartkowiak added.

Bartkowiak has spent the bulk of the last couple years finding the right partners to help refurbish these manually wound movements for use in LANG 1943 watches, beginning with the 2022 field watch.

“When Rüdiger [Lang] told me he had this stock of vintage movements, I asked how many. And he answered, ‘Well, until the end of your life’,” Bartkowiak laughed. “These were only ébauches, though, so we’ve had to build and refurbish them – nightmarish work like getting the pittonage for the balance springs [very precisely positioning the stud that determines the regulating point between the curb pins]. We also had to buy ruby bearings, get the movements finished and decorated, and so on.”

LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One

“We are turning this raw gem into a sparkling diamond,” Bartkowiak explained. “Just collect the best cherries for your brand and you will have a fantastic Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte [Black Forest cake]!”

And all of this work on the movements was begun during the pandemic, a truly dreadful time to work with suppliers, who have been struggling over the last two years, a situation that is still ongoing. It borders on miraculous how well things have worked out for the LANG 1943 team.

Everything about LANG 1943 is created, crafted, and manufactured in Switzerland and Germany. A lot like the way Chronoswiss used to work, but with one major difference: there is no “Swiss made” on the dial of these new watches. And that even though this watch would easily qualify to carry the label.

“Newcomers all arrive with a ‘Swiss made’ label,” said Bartkowiak. “I just don’t trust in it anymore. We only say ‘designed in Germany, made in Switzerland.’ But it’s not on the dial. I want to be a German brand and we are authentic this way: I am German, Rüdiger is German; it’s our heritage.”

The LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One

Is this the right time to bring a new brand to the market? That’s a good question. But one thing is certain: the Swiss watch industry has gone through a lot of crises, and the coming recession is probably just the next speed bump along the way. “There is certainly space for us in the market in this price range,” said Bartkowiak. “At under $4,000 with a manufacture movement and no Far Eastern parts – we are entirely German and Swiss – we have very good chances.”

LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One on a variety of wrists

Despite the recession, this new brand does have good cards: limited production, accessible pricing, comfortable unisex sizing, beautiful design, high-grade manufacturing, enthusiastic people behind it, and a pedigree that hardly any other new brand would be able to enjoy: Gerd-Rüdiger Lang as mentor and ambassador.

The Field Watch Edition One is the premier introduction. But it won’t be the last new watch we see this year: variations of the Field Watch are slated to arrive as 2022 progresses.

“Rüdiger’s birth decade is the 1940s, so we decided to bring the design of our Field Watch Edition One to a logical place: the Dirty Dozen, which has become a topic again at auction. And you’ll see that the Jaeger-LeCoultre Dirty Dozen had a huge subdial for seconds, which we used as our inspiration, transferring this cherished design of the 1940s into the 2020s. It was a long journey. And we have invested a lot in what I call the ‘Rüdiger DNA’.”

LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One

The dial of the LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One is a surprising fumé with luminous hour markers in an old radium-style color. The fumé style has experienced something of a comeback thanks to brands like H. Moser & Cie and anOrdain. Most recently, Patek Philippe released its own version of the fumé. LANG 1943’s fumé dial is different yet again from all of these – and in no way inspired by that of the Patek Philippe timepiece, which only came out at Watches and Wonders 2022. Though I would say that in a year in which Patek Philippe also releases such a dial, there is no way that LANG 1943 can go wrong.

The fumé dial finds its roots in the 1960s and 1970s, which fits perfectly with the era of this Marvin movement from the 1960s. “I started working on the dial about three years ago, thinking to bring a cherished design with a modern update. This is now our interpretation and has its own character,” explained Bartkowiak. “The behind-the-scenes work in bringing a dial like this to fruition cannot be underestimated.”

LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One

The brushed stainless steel case, which is sized to perfectly house its manufacture movement, is silky to the touch and wears like a dream. It is available in 39 mm, a size that the markets very much appreciate today due to the trendy decrease of case sizes and the ability for it to be worn ubiquitously. “We wanted more of an elegant sporty case rather than a pilot’s case,” added Bartkowiak.

The LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One comes with two straps that can be easily exchanged using a quick-release pin: one in a beige-colored woven textile and one in a naturally tanned leather with no chemicals used in the tanning process. This leads to the strap receiving a “patina” over the course of time that is unique to the wearer. The quick-release straps are lined with skin-friendly Alcantara. And they are supremely comfortable.

LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One with both straps (photo courtesy Miguel Seabra)

“Legacy is one of the things we wanted to bring to this ‘new brand with heritage’,” noted Bartkowiak. “We are a newcomer, but we are not really a startup. And the brand is built around the aura of Rüdiger, an advantage money can’t buy.”

The “fascination of mechanics” continues . . . and if you weren’t around to know what I am referring to, then know that “the fascination of mechanics” was classic Chronoswiss’s tagline. But it was also more than that. It was a way of life.

For more information, please visit

Quick Facts LANG 1943 Field Watch Edition One
Case: 39 x 8.4 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Caliber L431 based on Marvin Caliber 700 from the 1960s, appx. 46-hour power reserve, 3 Hz / 21,600 vph frequency,
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: $3,700 

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11 replies
  1. Morris Magoo
    Morris Magoo says:

    Well, you’ve written an overflowing review of praise of your friend and for your friend’s new brand and its watch, and while it’s a nicely executed modified design of a field watch, with a refurbished movement, it’s still a simple design with an older base movement. In other words, are you kidding me with their asking price?! You may want to justify their pricing, but it doesn’t. This comes across as a get rich scheme, and it’s a shame really, as this could’ve been something worthwhile in the market if it had been priced appropriately, as in half. He got Lang on board with his supply of stock movements, and he’s using Lang’s likeness all as a way to justify and promote an exorbitant charge. There’s a fool born every minute I suppose. I guess he subscribes to the old saying, never give a sucker an even break.

  2. Tam O' Banter
    Tam O' Banter says:

    “no chemicals used in the tanning process”
    The first problem as I see it, is the brand name. “Lang 1943” sounds like a Chinese knock-off.
    It was a VERY bad decision.
    As for the watch, it seems…… fine, although it definitely does not look 8.4mm thick from the photographs. But I am struggling to understand the potential buyer of this piece, assuming that the terrible brand name doesn’t put them off.

    This is priced either too high or too low. I mean, this is firmly in Tudor/Sinn/Damasko territory. The movement and finishing do not appear particularly special and after-sales support is likely to be limited to the post office.
    So, either make it a loss-leader for the brand and sell it for $1,500, or make something to get excited about.
    I’m genuinely sorry to be so negative, but there are hundreds of alternatives out there.

    • Morris Magoo
      Morris Magoo says:

      You have nothing to be sorry about. Bartkowiak should be the one apologizing; for his arrogance and avarice and stupidity. Not a good combination! Hopefully, people won’t be taken in by the knucklehead.

  3. WatchMark
    WatchMark says:

    I am a big fan of the original Chronoswiss brand including the Regulator, Opus, Delphis, and more. My grail watch for a time was the Repetition a Quatrz chiming watch, which I still find beautiful. I’m pleased to see that his efforts in the watch industry are still cherished and used to further the craft.

  4. phil evans
    phil evans says:

    Mr. Magoo is correct.
    need very strong glasses to justify that price.
    over priced simple entrance watch parts.
    no rationale.

  5. Thomas 37 Grad
    Thomas 37 Grad says:

    Thank you for the second article about GR Lang in a short time. I am always glad when I hear or read about the Chronoswiss founder dear Elizabeth. And I am always glad to see that he is endlessly active. To me, GR Lang is a legend. Thank you. And I’m looking forward to the Regulateur. I’m not sure if I like the Field Watch or if I expected it. But that’s perfectly ok. There is no command to like it and there is no compulsion to buy it either.
    All the money spent on all the disliked and not bought Lang1943s, Porcelain Clocks, Steel Odysseus´, Furlan Marris, Mings, and whatever, is certainly enough for everyone to buy the dream watch they like. And whoever is dissatisfied with it, donates it to ONLY Watch or Children Action and is (at least) a good person for once. Be nice, always – says Thomas

  6. Steven DeVaul
    Steven DeVaul says:

    Ms Doerr,

    First I wish to offer my deepest condolences to Mr. Langs family and friends. Mr. Lang was a true icon of the watch industry, and brought inspiration to watchmakers and watch lovers everywhere.
    He will be sorely missed.

    I would like to say that I believe many of these negative comments concerning the price of the Lang 1943 Field watch are unwarranted. When one takes a step back, and considers all that encompasses the development of the brand, the achievement and history that helped bring the brand to fruition, the field watch is worth every penny in my humble opinion.

    I would also like to add that; Having Andreas Strehler involved in the development of the upcoming Regulator is fantastic news. I hope he is involved in the development of the upcoming Chronograph as well.

    Kind Regards,
    Steven DeVaul


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