A Lange & Sohne is truly at the pinnacle of haute horology. The “Pour le Mérite” is one of the best examples of this excellence in watchmaking. Since the inaugural collection of the new era was showcased in the autumn of 1994, the exclusive timepieces with the attribute “Pour le Mérite” have represented the technological avant-garde at A. Lange & Söhne. Each of the four models launched so far is endowed with a fusée-and-chain mechanism. The Richard Lange “Pour le Mérite”, first introduced in 2009, exemplifies an ambitious tribute to precision in its purest form: the sole objective of its complication, discernible only on the movement side, is to improve rate accuracy. The pink-gold and platinum versions, now sold out, are now being complemented with a limited white-gold edition featuring a black dial.
Utmost technical complexity
The salient technical hallmark of the Richard Lange “Pour le Mérite” and of all “Pour le Mérite” models since 1994 is a fusée-and-chain transmission that consummately defined new benchmarks in precision watchmaking.
Inspired by historic pocket watches and integrated into a wristwatch by A. Lange & Söhne for the first time, the mechanism guarantees constant torque and thus stability of the amplitude of the balance across the entire power-reserve range. Wrapped around the mainspring barrel, the chain delivers the power of the mainspring to the wheel train via the cone-shaped fusée. This keeps the torque constant. When the watch is fully wound, the chain pulls at the smaller circumference of the fusée, i.e. at the shorter lever. Conversely, when the tension of the mainspring is nearly depleted, the chain pulls at the larger circumference of the fusée, the longer lever. In principle, the mechanism works like the gearing of a bicycle except that the gear ratios are infinitely variable rather than fixed.
The 636-part chain can support a weight of over two kilograms. But to fully exploit the positive effect of the fusée-and-chain device, the product developers added a technical refinement: two separate mechanisms block the winding system before fully wound and fully unwound states. Both prevent the chain which is only 0.25 millimetres thick and 156 millimetres long from being overstressed.
The fusée-and-chain transmission causes the fusée to rotate in one direction during the winding process and in the opposite direction when the watch is running. For this reason, it is necessary to ensure that the watch continues to run even when it is being wound. An elaborate planetary gearing inside the fusée maintains the flow of power from the fusée to the movement during the winding phase. It is composed of 38 parts which the watchmaker must fit into the tight 8.6mm inside diameter of the fusée.This NEW version in white gold with a black dial had its debut at the company’s international dealer convention in Dresden on September 22, 2016. Its fusée-and-chain transmission ensures constant torque and superb rate accuracy. It’s limited and numbered to 218 pieces for the world.
This watch is constructed out of 18k white gold, measures 40.5mm x 10.5mm in diameter and has double sapphire crystals.
The Movement is the German manual-wind Lange in-house caliber L044.1 with 33 jewels, 21,600 vph and a power reserve of 36 hours. It features a fusée-and-chain transmission, precision-adjusted to five positions; three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver; balance cock as well as escape-wheel and fourth-wheel cock engraved by hand. With four solid-gold poising screws, its moment of inertia can be adjusted precisely to the torque delivered by the fusée. The hand-finissage of all movement parts even includes straight graining of the upper side of the chain, which is also crafted in-house. The engravings on the balance cock as well as on the escape-wheel and fourth-wheel cock give each of the 218 watches the status of a unique work of art.
The dial is solid silver, done in black, with white Roman numerals, small Arabic numerals in red for 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes, and gold rhodiumed hands. It’s fitted on a black hand-stitched alligator leather strap with an 18kt white gold buckle. I have been to the A Lange & Sohne factory in Glashuette Germany several times throughout my career. They really are THE example of quality, craftsmanship, tradition and excellence within the watch industry.