A. Lange & Söhne’s new Zeitwek is a recreation of history

The new Zeitwerk by A. Lange & Söhne – the second generation of the digital watch with a mechanical heart – is an innovative technical concept that’s expressed by progressive design.

In 2009, A. Lange & Söhne presented the first Zeitwerk – to the amazement of the world of horology. The unprecedented wristwatch concept features large jumping numerals for the hours and minutes as well as a constant-force escapement as a beat controller. To this very date, the clear, avant-garde display of time is peerless, underscoring the manufacture’s ambition to constantly redefine the limits of technical feasibility. Company founder Walter Lange repeatedly urged the need “to never stand still”. Following this maxim, the watchmakers at A. Lange & Söhne regularly question conventional concepts and pursue new innovative approaches to promote the development of precision watchmaking.

Two new versions of the award-winning Zeitwerk mechanical digital watch – available in platinum and pink gold – reinforce this philosophy. Thanks to the evolved calibre L043.6, the exceptional timepiece now has a power reserve doubled to 72 hours and offers even greater convenience. The revolutionary design concept has been subtly reworked as well, enhancing its expressive style. Even though the minute-by-minute progression of the large jumping numerals may seem to be moved by magic, it is precisely controlled by a reliable calibre with seven patents.

The timepiece is a reflection of the innovative approach that is always at work at A. Lange & Söhne – closely intertwined with longstanding traditions. For the Zeitwerk, the master watchmakers at A. Lange & Söhne took their inspiration from the famous five-minute clock at the Semper Opera House in Dresden, commissioned to court clockmaker Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes at the time to create. He was asked to develop a time display that would be easily legible even from the rearmost seats. It was a challenge that forced Gutkaes to rethink the assignment. Contrary to all large-format clocks with hands, he opted for a revolutionary solution: a clock that displayed the time digitally in five-minute steps. In 1841, he completed the five-minute clock with his co-worker Ferdinand Adolph Lange. The unusual idea behind this clock was transposed to the Zeitwerk, even though it switches five times more often than its source of inspiration, namely once per full minute.

The Zeitwerk has a patented mechanism with three jumping numerals discs that make a glance at the watch a special experience. The hours and minutes are displayed from left to right by large format numerals that are 2.9mm high and 2.3mm wide. Additionally, this aesthetically original and technically elaborate display endows the dial with vibrancy and verve because the underlying mechanism switches the three numeral discs – one displays the hours, the other two display the units and the tens digits of the minutes – within fractions of a second. The most exciting event happens at the top of the hour when all three numeral discs are simultaneously advanced by one increment.

To create this lucid and innovative display, Lange’s designers questioned the conventional principles and rules of precision watchmaking. This was necessary, because the challenge of fitting the mechanism in the limited dimensions of a wristwatch and at the same time providing enough energy to produce the synchronised switching steps was enormous. While these challenges were already intelligently mastered by the first-generation Zeitwerk, the new incarnation of the watch goes a step further with the refined calibre L043.6.

Thanks to a patented barrel design with two mainsprings, it was possible to double the power reserve from 36 to 72 hours. Or, to express it with other numbers: When fully wound, the Zeitwerk now has sufficient energy to perform 4,320 minute jumps or, more precisely, 72 jumps with all three discs, 360 jumps with only two discs, and 3,888 jumps with only one disc. Another improvement versus the predecessor model is the simplified setting of the hour. A pusher at four o’clock can now separately advance the display, which is particularly useful when the time zone changes during a trip.

In its second generation, the Zeitwerk also features an oscillation system with its own balance spring and patented beat-adjustment system. It oscillates with a frequency of 18,000 semi-oscillations per hour (2.5 hertz). As with all of the manufactory’s calibres, the artisanal finissage of the 451-part movement complies with the most ambitious Lange standards. With a glance through the sapphire crystal caseback, connoisseurs can admire the hand-engraved balance and escape-wheel cocks, the solarised winding wheels, the 59 jewels, and the intricate, straight-grained remontoir bridge that accommodates two recessed, screwed gold chatons.

The new Zeitwerk has a case diameter of 41.9mm and a height of 12.2mm. It comes in pink gold with a black dial and a time bridge made of untreated German silver, while the platinum edition has a rhodié dial made of solid silver. The pink-gold model has a black alligator leather strap while the platinum version is paired with a dark brown alligator leather strap.

For more information about the new Zeitwerk, click here

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