In my last post, I touched on the Lange 1 and wrote about whether I felt it was worth its salt. Today, I’ll be taking a closer look another highly coveted piece from the manufacture – the 1815 Chronograph. A close friend of mine happens to own a 3rd generation 1815 Chronograph in white gold and has been gracious enough to allow me to share it with you.
I’m sure few are strangers to this German powerhouse of a brand, but for those who are unfamiliar, I will include a quick summary of the brand’s history below.
A. Lange & Söhne was originally founded as A. Lange & Cie by Ferdinand Adolph Lange in Glashutte, Germany in 1845. Given Adolph Lange’s meticulous work ethic, he found it imperative that the business remained family-owned. Thus, he began training his sons, Richard and Emil, in the craft of watchmaking during the late 1860s and early 1870s.
In 1868, when his eldest son Richard entered the company, A. Lange & Cie was renamed A. Lange & Söhne, or A. Lange and Sons. Then, in 1875, Adolph Lange passed away at the age of 60 due to heart failure. After his death, the company was passed down to the next generation – just as Adolph Lange had hoped for – till World War II.
During the conflict, A. Lange & Söhne produced watches for Germany’s Air Force, the Luftwaffe. However, in the final months of the war, Glashutte was bombed and A. Lange & Söhne’s workshop suffered extensive damage. To make matters even worse, the Soviet army demanded reparations from Glashütte in the form of tools and machinery. As a result, the Lange family was expropriated, and the Soviet administration nationalized the company’s remaining property by 1948.
For the next 45 years, the A. Lange & Söhne name would be forgotten to the passage of time. Then, in 1989, the Iron Curtain collapsed. Adolph Lange’s great-grandson, Walter Lange, was finally able to return to Germany and continue the family tradition of watchmaking. By 1990, the A. Lange and Söhne trademark had been re-registered by him, and just four years later, in 1994, the manufacture presented their first watches in nearly half a century.
The original 1815 Chronograph was released in 2004. 14 years and 3 model refreshes later, we have the 1815 Chronograph ref. 414.028. Crafted from white gold and finished with a black solid silver dial, the ref. 414.028 is a treat for the eyes. Fitted with a variant of the movement powering the highly regarded Datograph – the calibre L951.5, many consider the 1815 Chronograph to be the Datograph’s younger sibling.
Despite being touted as the brand’s “entry-level chronograph”, the 1815 Chronograph is no slouch. Boasting 60 hours of power reserve as well as a flyback chronograph complication with a horizontal clutch, the 1815 Chronograph deserves more credit than it’s given. On top of this, with a price point of €53.600, I find it rather comedic for it to be considered merely “entry-level” for many people.
With a case size of 39.5mm by 11mm, many would expect the timepiece to look rather small on the wrist. However, after wearing it, I do feel it wears slightly larger than expected due to the long lugs – which seem to protrude ever so slightly. The watch does feel very well made, as should be expected of A. Lange & Söhne. A mirror polish is visible on almost every surface, and the printing of the dial elements on the solid silver dial is crisp. It isn’t difficult to understand why the manufacture is so highly regarded in the watchmaking realm.
With anglage present on almost every visible component, the Calibre L951.5 is finished to the highest degree. As standard with every Lange timepiece, the hand-engraved balance cock is done masterfully, and the Geneva stripes present on the bridges are perfectly aligned. No matter how hard I tried, I was unable to find any flaws with the finishing – even with a 10x-21mm jeweller’s loupe.
The pushers belonging to the L961.5 feel buttery smooth when the chronograph is activated, and the flyback function is almost instantaneous. To top it all off, the jumping minute counter – achieved through the use of a snail, is absolutely mesmerising. I will go as far as to say that the 1815 Chronograph’s L961.5 movement is one of the most impressive I’ve ever interacted with, almost on par with the Patek Philippe Calibre CH 28‑520 C FUS which powers the 5990-1A Nautilus.
Despite being much more affordable (17,700€ cheaper), I feel the 1815 Chronograph is not to be overlooked and can stand toe to toe with the Datograph. As the late Walter Lange once said, “There is something that you demand not only of your watch, but also of yourself: never stand still.” In classic A. Lange & Söhne fashion, every minute detail is executed to near perfection, and I doubt the manufacture’s pursuit of perfection will end till it is achieved.