It’s rare enough to go hands-on with one of German watchmaking’s most interesting and iconic pieces, but three at the same time? It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. We recently pinned down a trio of A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk watches – each with their own distinct complication, designed to appeal to very specific types of collectors: the standard version in rose gold, the Striking Time in rose gold, and the Minute Repeater in platinum.
At first glance, the three examples all carry a very similar visual aesthetic, anchored in A. Lange & Söhne cheap replica watches extremely cool mechanical jumping “digital” display – now a signature for the prestigious Glashütte-based watchmaker. However, the contrasts between each in feature set and price point couldn’t be more different, which is why it’s helpful to have them all in the same room at once. Before we dive too deep into the minutiae that define each Zeitwerk, it’s worth taking a moment to break down what makes their complications different.
For starters, the “standard” variant (somewhat of a misnomer, as even the base-level Zeitwerk extremely complex A. Lange & Söhne watches) is built around a 41.9mm case and powered by Lange’s calibre L043.1, which displays the time through a series of rotating discs at 3 and 9:00 that “jump” from minute to minute, and hour to hour. Coming in at 44.2mm, the Striking Time is a few hairs larger than the standard A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk, a size increase which accommodates the added complications necessary for the larger L043.2 caliber which chimes the full and quarter hours as they arrive in two distinctly different tones only when the chime is engaged.
You can see each of the hammer-like gongs positioned at 4 and 7:00, where they strike a carefully tensioned wire driven into the caseband. The third in our trio is the most complex, and arguably the apex of traditional watchmaking expertise – which is likely why Lange opted to release it exclusively in platinum.
The fake A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater accommodates the caliber L043.5 by sharing the same larger 44.2mm case as the Striking Time, but with an added degree of symphonic complexity when its chimes are activated – on demand, unlike the Striking Time – simply by depressing the pusher at 10:00. But rather than chime the hours and quarter-hours as they pass like the Striking Time, the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater chimes the current time, right down to the very minute, using a combination of unique notes: a low tone for each elapsed hour, a high/low tone combo for 10-minute intervals, and a crisp, high tone for each elapsed minute.