Golden ratio and double aperture

Gerrit Rietveld, an eminent 20th-century designer and architect, argued that construction and beauty need not be contradictory. For the same reason, A. Lange & Söhne’s product designers work closely with the calibre engineers right from the beginning when they develop new models. In an elaborate inception process, they must reconcile the grand idea with scores of seemingly insignificant details. The objective is to harmonise technology and aesthetics, tradition and modernity.

From the first rough sketches to final acceptance, the design of a dial alone can take up to two years. For Lange designers, repeatedly questioning the validity of their own drafts is part of the job. On the long, arduous path to the final version, they assess countless variations that often differ from one another only in diminutive details. They are appraised, compared, passionately discussed and reworked yet again. But grappling with fractions of a millimetre is the only way to come up with the best solution among many good ones. The result: watches with designs that remain influential for decades and which can be readily recognised as “an A. Lange & Söhne” even without the famous arced brand signature.

Prominent design elements such as the asymmetric dial layout and the outsize date with a double aperture transformed the LANGE 1 – first introduced in 1994 – into a style-defining icon. It is no doubt the most famous model of the venerable Saxon brand. With its double-aperture date inspired by the stage clock in the Semper Opera House and the off-centre dial architecture, the LANGE 1 wrote design history. The non-overlapping arrangement of the displays reflects the harmonious proportions of the golden ratio. Since antiquity, it has been considered a paragon of aesthetic equilibrium.

Apart from the obvious characteristics, the distinctiveness of timepieces crafted by the Saxon manufactory is often based on very subtle features. Such details include the gracefully sculpted lugs, the elegant lancet-shaped hands, the engraved look of the typography or the interplay between the case material and the dial colour, which is balanced explicitly in the interest of aesthetic appeal. Featuring debuts for the year 2013, a few sketches from the A. Lange & Söhne designers illustrate how the manufactory repeatedly succeeds in melding the quest for emblematic timelessness and brand recognition.