The Italians have an expression, sprezzatura, in which the elegance of intentional design lies behind a demeanor of effortless nonchalance. This principle, of course, is not without a sense of irony since extreme care is put towards the goal of appearing carefree. This has become a prevalent theme throughout the world of wristwatches and, in particular, among wristwatch collectors. I had the opportunity to photograph and wear two very exclusive wristwatch models by A. Lange & Sohne that embody this philosophy: the Zeitwerk and the Lange 1 Time Zone Singapore Special Edition.
The Zeitwerk is a revolutionary design that seeks to combine the history of Lange’s mechanical watchmaking with an extremely modern complication. Thanks to Lange’s new constant-force escapement, both the hour and the minute indicators in the time display are able to accomplish instantaneous change. Ironically, this groundbreaking movement is an extremely modern way of allowing the time to mechanically move in the same manner as a simple Casio digital watch, while at the same time looking back to the design of historical clocks and pocket watches.
This sprezzatura is apparent not only in the irony behind the movement and basic functions of the watch, but also in its physical appearance. The dial contains a decorative screw and jewel, a seconds hand, and a power reserve indicator written, of course, in German. The color of Lange’s rose gold metal is unparalleled, with the exception of Patek Philippe’s rose gold, a brand with which Lange is often favorably compared. The Zeitwerk case certainly has a presence on the wrist, but at the same time is quite elegant with its alligator strap and matching clasp.
Devotees of brands as diametrically opposed as Patek Philippe and Officine Panerai are both able to find a place for the Zeitwerk in their collection. Patek Philippe aficionados believe Lange is on the vanguard of new complications with extremely refined movements and finishings. Officine Panerai fans can associate with the Zeitwerk’s case dimensions, uniqueness, historical origins, and elegant masculinity.
The Lange 1 Time Zone Singapore Special Edition with black dial also carries a subdued air of exclusivity, as only 30 pieces of this particular wristwatch were produced. It is a dual-time watch with separate hands for each timezone, including a city indicator around the bezel. The classic Lange large date window is present, along with a small seconds hand and a power indicator. Wristwatch collectors may be reminded of the Patek Philippe 5130 world time model or the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionelle World Time we photographed here, but the Lange 1 is actually a dual-time watch that is inspired by the classic world time inner bezel markings. The Lange 1 Timezone Singapore Special Edition is similar to the traditional Lange 1 wristwatch line except for the exclusivity of the black dial combination not otherwise produced. The careless elegance of its design will certainly belie the agony of trying to obtain one of the 30 examples in existence… sprezzatura at its finest.