: Grand Lange 1
Text Cherie Wong
Photo Kimio Ng

To ensure that a watch model is regarded as classic and timeless, it’s down to not only the construction of the dial, case, movement and the smallest details such as the finishing, but also how the maison has managed the evolution of the classic over time. The Grand Lange 1 exemplifies the concept of how to create something a coherent evolution of an arguably perfect design. 

The Classic 

To talk about the Grand Lange 1, we need to consider the origin of the Lange 1 itself. When Walter Lange, Günter Blümlein and Reinhard Meis decided to revive the historical brand, A. Lange & Söhne, the mission was to present the past and present spirit of Saxon watchmaking. In 1994, The Lange 1 was one of the inaugural designs together with three other models, the Saxonia, Arkade and the Tourbillon Pour le Mérite. 

With the unconventional yet thoughtful dial design, the Lange 1 revolutionised the idea of watch construction, by having a movement constructed that is specifically adapted to the dial layout rather than the other way ‘round. The idea is to have each function separate while creating order for the three scattered parts on the display. To solve the potential visual disturbance, Lange followed the “golden ratio” by placing each function’s centre point along an equilateral triangle, following the natural rules aesthetic balance and symmetry that we, consciously or not, appreciate.

Bearing the unconventional dial design, the preciseness and finishing of the movement was not compromised, the calibre L901 family showing the accurate calculation to match the dial positioning with hour and minute, small second subdials and a fan-shaped power reserve indication. The most recognisable feature would be the oversize date aperture, inspired by the five-minute clock in Dresden’s Semper Opera House. The Lange 1 design instantly became a very important pillar for the maison’s future aesthetic. 

The Rebellious Big Brother

In 2003, meeting the growing demand of bigger diameter watches,  A. Lange & Söhne decided to introduce a larger case version of Lange 1 within the family: the Grand Lange 1. As an evolutionary model, the first generation of Grand Lange 1 was equipped with the calibre L901.2, in an enlarged 41.9mm case with a thickness of 11mm. While the movement was developed according to the dial’s “golden ratio” arrangement, keeping the original movement meant an adjustment on dial design. To maintain the dial aesthetic for the bigger dimensions, the proportion for the subdials became bigger with almost a quarter of the small second dial overlapping the hour and minute subdial, while the oversized date aperture also invaded the hour and minute track. The comment for this evolution was mixed, mainly for the compromising of the “golden ratio” aspects. 

Answering some of those critics in 2012,  A. Lange & Söhne eventually modified the unusual look of the Grand Lange 1, returning the dial to the original proportion. Following the golden ratio for the functions on the dial, the movement was replaced by calibre L095.1 embodied in a smaller 40.9mm case at 8.8mm height. In subsequent years, the Grand Lange 1 would not see not many complications applied to it, except the version with moon phase aperture on the small second sundial, the Grand Lange 1 Luna Mundi in 2003 and inside the subdial hour and minute, Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase in 2014.


Strive for thinner and better

Staying with calibre L095.1, the latest Grand Lange 1 evolved again in 2022, with a thinner case and new dial colour.  The case is now enlarged 0.1mm to 41mm and the thickness has been reduced to 8.2mm in the constant pursuit of refinement and elegant proportions. To achieve the thinner profile, A. Lange & Söhne reduced by half of the thickness of the hour marker and lowered the axis of the hands making them closer to the dial. The two date aperture discs were also optimised, with a minimal gap for 0.15mm between the two discs used in the date display to make them appear to be on the same level.


The calibre L095.1 has respected Lange 1’s movement design code and construction, covered by a signature three-quarter plate. With the enlarged proportions of the dial design of the latest generation Grand Lange 1, the extra space also allowed for a bigger mainspring barrel to replace the double barrel with two stacked mainspring in Lange 1.


The slimmer hour markers, matching the case metal,  not only contribute to the reduction in case thickness, but also give a sharper and sleeker appearance from the new grained muted grey colour dial. Following the traditional Lange 1 design with straight lugs and domed bezel, the case is offered in 18k pink or white gold, with an optimisation on the gap between bezel and sapphire crystal, again in the interest of a slim profile.  


The Grand Lange 1 shows the maison’s resolute attention to detail and the dedication it has shown throughout the years to ensure that movement construction is perfectly adapted to the aesthetic requirements. It’s perhaps the subtlety that is the most intriguing aspect, for it takes a keen eye to truly appreciate all that has gone into make the Grand Lange 1 a true classic for the ages.