No one expected a watch like the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk to come from A. Lange & Söhne. A digital watch from arguably the most prestigious and traditional watchmaker in Saxony? No way. But that’s exactly what Lange did in 2009. In the middle of the late-2000s global recession, the German watchmaker swerved all expectations to release the Zeitwerk, its most unconventional watch to date.
And as of this morning, 13 years after the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk was born and exactly 28 years to the day Lange released its very first watches of the modern era, the Zeitwerk’s second generation has officially been revealed. Just to be clear, this isn’t the first new Zeitwerk since the inaugural 2009 launch. We’ve seen the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, the Zeitwerk Decimal Strike, and the Zeitwerk Date – among others – but today’s release is the first time Lange has returned and reworked the original design and movement in any serious manner.
The new Lange Zeitwerk comes in two different flavors – your choice of a platinum or 18k pink gold case – each equipped with the brand-new manual-wind caliber L043.6 that builds on the original Zeitwerk’s dual-jumping hour and minute display and constant-force mechanism, but with an upgraded barrel design housing two mainsprings that enables an increased power reserve of up to 72 hours (a substantial improvement from the previous generation’s insufficient 36 hours). A pusher that allows for the rapid forward adjustment of the jumping-hour display has also been added to the case profile at the four o’clock position, allowing for a quick and easy correction when traveling between time zones. (FYI, you do still have to pull out the two o’clock crown to set the jumping minute.)
These sorts of developments don’t come easily. The total number of components inside the Zeitwerk’s caliber L043.6 is all the way up to 451 individual pieces, an increase of exactly 63 components from the architecture of the 2009 movement. However, it is worth mentioning that Lange was somehow able to actually shrink the thickness of the case ever so slightly from the Zeitwerk’s original profile. How slight are we talking? Exactly 0.4mm. The Zeitwerk’s dial layout and design have, for the most part, remained the same between the generations. The position of the opposing jumping hour and minute apertures have not moved, and neither have the running seconds sub-dial that’s located in the traditional six o’clock position or the sweeping power reserve indicator at the top of the dial. That big ol’ German silver bridge that frames all of the time displays? It’s called the “time bridge” – or the zeitbrücke, if your German is up to snuff – and it’s right where it’s supposed to be. Everything about the new Zeitwerk is familiar, but if you look closely around the dial, you’ll find a few subtle visual tweaks and improvements. The small seconds, for instance, appears to now be slightly larger in size, a decision presumably made to increase the display’s overall visual impact and to improve its legibility. The increase in circumference of the sub-dial also encouraged Lange to move its famous “Made In Germany” signature away from the rounded underbelly of the time bridge and into the lower part of the seconds display. And then, another new addition comes in at the top of the dial: The final 12 hours of the power-reserve display are now highlighted in bright red for increased contrast and awareness of when the mainspring is almost out of juice. The new A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk comes in a round three-part case with Lange’s signature notched lugs and precise dimensions of 41.9mm × 12.2mm. At launch, it’s available in two different variants. There’s an example in a 950 platinum case with a rhodium-tinted silver dial, a black-rhodium time bridge, and a dark brown alligator strap (ref. 142.025), or you can opt for the Zeitwerk in an 18k pink gold case with a black dial, a time bridge made of untreated German silver, and a black alligator leather strap (ref. 142.031).