In this edition of Behind the Lens, we pay tribute to the recent 20th anniversary of the introduction of the Lange 1 with images of two very special variants of this classic watch: the rare Cellini limited edition, of which only 25 were made, and the even rarer stainless steel Lange 1, which was not a limited edition per se but certainly a (very) limited production watch.
There’s a great deal of speculation about the number of stainless steel watches the modern A. Lange & Söhne has produced because the company has never revealed the exact production, saying only that it was “a very small number of examples.” While steel versions with silvery white dials appear at auction from time to time, the black-dialed version that we see here seems rarer still.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Tokyo boutique in the popular Ginza shopping district, A. Lange & Söhne is releasing a limited edition version of the Lange 1 Daymatic. The Daymatic is exactly what it sounds like – it has the popular Lange 1 layout, only reversed and with a retrograde display for the day of the week where the power reserve would be on a basic Lange 1. Additionally, it’s automatic, with a full winding rotor visible on top of the movement and its three-quarter plate. What makes this white gold model unique is the guilloché dial, which is solid gold with an argente color treatment and blue accents on the hands and date display. This watch will only be available at the Ginza boutique and production is limited to 20 pieces.
Japan is an extremely important market for A. Lange & Söhne and some of the biggest Lange collectors in the world are Japanese. As such, the Ginza boutique has become an extremely important one for the brand, so it’s fitting that there would be some sort of celebration to mark its first decade. The Lange 1 Daymatic isn’t the model I would have guessed Lange would choose for the occasion, but it’s a fitting one that they’ve made special with a few subtle-but-special tweaks.
The small stainless steel series of Lange 1 watches was produced in 1998, and despite years of pleading from enthusiasts, A. Lange & Söhne seems at this point to have decided to exclusively encase its watches in precious metals, so we shouldn’t expect any more steel pieces soon. As with some Patek Philippe variants, it’s not the cost of the metal but rather the relative rarity of the steel watches that has driven their values sky-high.
When it comes to Lange’s watches, I’m typically in the camp that prefers the manually-wound options over the automatic ones. However, I’m willing to make a big exception for this watch. The guilloché work is outstanding and has a certain subtlety on the silver dial, and those blue accents really make the watch sing. I also like that on this model (versus the traditional Lange 1), the time display is on the right, which means it peeks out from your shirt cuff more easily. I have a funny feeling that by the time you read this all 20 watches will already be spoken for.
Brand: A. Lange & Söhne
Model: Lange 1 Daymatic Tokyo Boutique 10th Anniversary Limited Edition
Reference Number: 320.040
Case Material: White gold
Dial Color: Argenté with guilloché
Indexes: Applied Roman numerals
Strap/Bracelet: Dark blue alligator strap with white gold prong buckle
Like many watches with black dials, this one isn’t that easy to photograph: I think that the first photo in the series above perhaps does the best job of capturing the real-world appearance of the piece with its sober visuals spiced up a bit by the circular grooves on the seconds subdial.
Caliber: In-House Caliber L021.1
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, day of the week, date
Power Reserve: 50 hours
Frequency: 3 Hz (21,600 vph)
Jewels: 67 (7 in screwed gold chatons)
Additional Details: Plates and bridges are crafted from untreated German silver
This watch seems to be very much a “love-it-or-hate-it” piece among collectors. The white dial is so white and so simple (matte rather than semi-gloss or glossy, and no grooving on the seconds subdial) that it seems to put off some people. For others, especially when seen in person, the elegance of the watch is almost overwhelming. As with many, many watches, this one really should be seen in person before one reaches a final conclusion.