Review – The A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Merite (Spoiler Alert: It is MEGA)

Review – The A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Merite (Spoiler Alert: It is MEGA)

No need to beat around the bush… Some subjects don’t really should be debated. The new A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Merite is a superlative watch, a proper masterpiece, blending all the technical marvels of perhaps the best manufacture on the planet (because for once, it’s outside Switzerland), with a solid regard to traditions and a commitment to what in particular is (to me, at least) the most important in a watch; accuracy. Indeed, you could say that the Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Merite blows things messed up yet, whatever the pundits will be, we as a whole must admit that this watch is, in each aspect, mega.

The latest of a long lineage

Back in 1994, 4 watches marked the restoration of a manufacture named A. Lange & Söhne. This early collection included  the Lange 1  (a watch that is as yet in the catalogue and that can be considered as the foundation of the collection) and the Tourbillon “Pour le Merite”, actually the main wristwatch to combine a tourbillon regulator with a fusée-and-chain transmission. Later, in 2005, it was trailed by another watch combining these two complications, and additionally featuring a split-seconds chronograph (also named a rattrapante), the Tourbograph. This watch remained as the manufacture’s most complex watch until 2013.

Indeed, in 2013, A. Lange & Söhne came at the SIHH with 2 incredibly complex watches. The first is the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar, and as you’ve speculated by it’s name, it features a split-seconds chronograph with a perpetual calendar. This watch alone is already an exceptionally complicated piece, which features 2 of the 4 main complications the Tourbograph Perpetual has. However, in 2013, A. Lange & Söhne has another watch, this time the best the manufacture has at any point done, the Grand Complication . This watch, a masterpiece valued at 1.9 Million Euros and created in 6 examples, will remain an untouchable grail that couple of will have the chance to try and see or handle once. However, as indicated by its name, it was the combination of a tolling complication (in this case a grande and modest sonnerie, as well as brief repeater), a perpetual calendar and a split-seconds chronograph.

Finally, in 2016, A. Lange & Söhne came to the SIHH with another great piece, the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon , based on the notable “Dato” Chronograph Flyback, with a perpetual calendar and, covered up on the back, a tourbillon. This watch is clearly great yet what you’ll see today is much more, as not just you’ll locate the same complications (tourbillon, chrono and QP) however with a constant power gadget and a rattrapante… Yes, that’s a lot.

An almost Grande Complication

As complex this new A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Merite is, it can’t officially bear the name “grande complication”. Without a doubt, in watchmaking, and other than what a few manufactures will attempt to sell as such, a Grande Complication alludes just to the combination of 3 complications, which are a part seconds chronograph, brief repeater and a perpetual calendar. And on the off chance that you can add anything you want to that idea, the absence of one of these 3 complications basically ruins the idea.

Because it lacks a tolling capacity, the Tourbograph Perpetual can’t be named a Grande Complication. Nonetheless, don’t consider this to be a real issue. Without a doubt, as great such watches are (they are so complex that just handful of manufactures have some in their catalog. Indeed, even Patek doesn’t have one), they are based distinctly on display capacities. The chronograph, the QP or the repeater have nothing to do with the accuracy of the watch. They don’t mediate in what certainly is the most complex of all research fields, chronometry. Nonetheless, the Tourbograph Perpetual adds to the QP and the rattrapante two complications that are helpful to the actual pith of a watch, its accuracy – in this case a tourbillon and a fusée-and-chain, these two combined counterbalance two troublesome phenomena in a mechanical development: gravity and waning spring power. As far as I might be concerned, this is as noteworthy as a grande complication.

Tourbillon

The A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Merite gladly uncover a tourbillon on its dial, in an aperture at 6 – which isn’t round however shaped not to meddle with the QP sub-dials. It’s actually very hard to say and some will call me rich, however this tourbillon regulator certainly is the most anticipated feature of the Tourbograph. In reality, it’s not a first for Lange, whom watchmakers master this sort of regulator for over 20 years (the 1994 inaugural collection already featured a tourbillon). Alright, let me backpedal on earth and keep things real. It’s a tourbillon, and that alone is already an extremely desirable feature. However, when you consider all the rest around the tourbillon, it becomes significantly more impressive.

In the case of the Tourbograph Perpetual, the tourbillon is a classical 1-minute form, with screwed balance and balance spring manufactured in-house, and beating at the classical recurrence of 3Hz (21,600 vib/hours). One dazzling feature of the tourbillon is actually its scaffold on top. From the get go, you think it’s the same as all Lange watches, with the same black-clean completion. Indeed, in fact it’s substantially more complex. Compared to the 2005 variant, the base development remains the same, and in this manner the tourbillon sits at the same profundity into the development. In any case, for the 2017 form of the Tourbograph, a perpetual calendar module has been added on top of the development, meaning that the tourbillon sits lower compared to the level of the dial.

For that, watchmakers at Lange had to imagine a bended scaffold. The completing applied on it, named black-cleaning (the most complex and tedious sort of polishing) is being applied interestingly on a bended surface, making it much more complex. This may a small feature for the vast majority of non-watchnerds, real connoisseurs of fine watchmaking will appreciate this. Finally, as you can see, the gem bearing of the tourbillon (on the two sides) is done via a diamond, held in place by a cleaned and screwed gold chaton. A nearby review reveal a faultless decoration.

“Pour le Mérite”/constant-power Fusée-and-Chain

The second feature that is part of the Tourbograph is actually difficult to see, as covered up underneath of the parts that compose the chronograph (the main-plate of the development is almost invisible). However, this is a great complication we’re talking about: a fusée-and-chain transmission, which explains the “Pour le Mérite” name of this watch. I’d say that it’s nearly sad that it can’t be seen, thinking about the beauty and complexity of this capacity, alongside its implication in the great chronometry of this watch.

As we’ve seen, the Tourbograph Perpetual is furnished to battle gravity with its tourbillon. It is also prepared to fight waning spring power by giving a more constant power to the escapement. The combination of these two is appropriately magical (and rare in present day watches). The fusée-and-chain is a complex gadget that aims at creating a more constant power conveyed by the barrel to the escapement of the watch, smoothing the force that is gotten by the escape wheel over the whole length of the force reserve.

A fusée comprises of a cone-shape pulley, connected to a chain coiled round the barrel. The fusée features a spiral thread to get the chain. Thanks to the increasing circuit of the thread, the reducing power of the mainspring is compensated. As the mainspring loosens up, the chain moves on the barrel and off the fusée. The increasing leverage of the fusée compensates for the waning force of the barrel. The chain of the Tourbograph Perpetual comprises no less than 636 parts. The force hold is 36 hours, as most “Pour le Merite” watches from the brand, even though it is presently fitted with several additional complications.

Perpetual Calendar

This is the main oddity of this A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Merite. It presently features a perpetual calendar. In any case, regardless of whether Lange has already several QPs in the collection, this one was not an easy task as far as improvement. In reality it comprises no less than 206 parts. Because the Tourbograph has a tourbillon and a number of hands running on the dial, a classic perpetual calendar was impractical. Lange had to upgrade the base caliber of the Tourbograph and to add a particular module (which was worked around the tourbillon) on top to be certain that the interaction of the parts was perfect.

Even however the Tourbograph Perpetual features a massive load of complications, its display remains incredibly simple and legible. Furthemore, it is traditional to Lange’s creation. The QP is based on 3 sub-dial, all comprising two indications (despite the fact that one is shared with the chronograph). At 12 is a classical moon-phase indication (with the moon being accurate for 122.6 years) and a date printed on the outskirts of this sub-dial and pointed by a white gold hand. At 3 are the months and the leap-year, again displayed in a clear style. Finally, at 9 is a shared sub-dial, which fills in as 30-minute counter for the chronograph and indication of the day of the week for the calendar (yet the hands are made in various material, as one is white gold and the other one is blued steel).

Rattrapante/Split-seconds chronograph

Last however not least of the 4 main complications of this Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Merite is a rattrapante/part seconds chronograph. This sort of chronograph is the most complex of them all. A simple chronograph is already a challenge for watchmakers, as its turn of events, assembly and adjustment are tedious, however the split-seconds form is on top of all the rest. It’s the ultimate chronograph (regardless of whether the Lange Double Split adds to this the flyback work, yet without all the rest the Tourbo has to offer).

What is a part seconds chronograph? A normal chrono allows its wearer to time occasions, meaning to measure intervals of time. A split-seconds chronograph adds to this the ability to time intermediate intervals of time, meaning laps of a race for instance. How can it work? Instead of having one hand, a split-seconds chrono has two hands. When started, both are running together (one under the other). However, when the pusher at 10 is squeezed, one of these two hands is halted to display an intermediate time (the other one keeps on running). Press again this pusher and the halted hand will immediately catch up the main chronograph hand (which is the reason it’s called a rattrapante – which means catch up in French).

Technically, it requires not one but rather two segment haggles more levers and parts on the back of the development, including a pair of clamps to stop just one of the two hands – a progression of features that are so complex that they hide almost all the back of the development, making the main plate, the fusée-and-chain or the tourbillon almost invisible. No complaints either, as the rattrapante chronograph mechanism is amazing, with a complex tangle of levers, springs, wheels, brakes, clamps and segment wheels – and obviously, all these parts are decorated with the most elevated level of details.

The Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Merite itself…

Beside the addition of the perpetual calendar work, the 2017 Tourbograph shows several advancements, compared to the 2005 form. Above all else, the whole plan has been carefully modernized, by making it cleaner – main change is on the internal flange. Also, the case, just available in platinum (the old Tourbograph was available in platinum – 51 pieces – and in nectar gold, in 50 pieces, launched in 2010). The guilloché central part of the dial found on the nectar gold is no more, for a sleeker look and mainly to compensate the more complex display of the 2017 version.

Then, the case of the Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Mérite is currently 43mm (instead of 41.2mm) with a thickness of 16.6mm. The increase of size is mainly because of the presence of the perpetual calendar on top of the development. The case is the same as a large portion of the watches delivered by A. Lange & Söhne, with an adjusted bezel, strong drags and brushed casebands. It is attached to a black strap with deployant buckle in platinum.

Conclusion

What to say about this watch expect that it is one more masterpiece from A. Lange & Söhne. By and by, this watch is mega, and taking all things together aspects: innovation, complications, rationality of the association of the fusée-and-chain with a tourbillon, completing (essentially amazing), beauty, relative discretion… I realize some brought up a certain exuberance, a lack of immaculateness in this watch, much the same as the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon , because it stacks as much complications as possible in a single watch. I don’t blame them. In any case, the duplicate sent by A. Lange & Sôhne is a demonstration of its undeniable ability. Hardly any manufactures might have created this watch (really few… maybe a handful).

What pundits could be made to the Tourbograph Perpetual? Its cost maybe? At 480,000 Euro, it is in fact a grail. However, it doesn’t sound like inappropriate, considering the watch you’ll get – and regardless, just 50 will be made. Its diameter? Indeed, it is without a doubt a large watch, all in all too large for my tastes. However, when you consider everything Lange achieved to embed in this watch, the 43mm diameter and the 16.6mm thickness are absurd. These complaints are insignificant to such an extent that we won’t even notification them. There’s just something single to do now, contemplate…


Specifications of the A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour le Mérite

  • Case: 43mm diamater x 16.6mm height – 950 platinum – sapphire crystal on both sides
  • Movement: Lange manufacture caliber L133.1 – manually twisted – 3Hz recurrence – 36 Hours power save – fusée-and-chain transmission, tourbillon – 684 parts (chain considered one part) – chain parts: 636
  • Functions: Hours, Minutes, One-Minute tourbillon, chronograph with rattrapante work; perpetual calendar with date, day, month, leap year; moon-phase display
  • Strap: Hand-sewed alligator leather strap, black – Deployant buckle in platinum
  • Reference: 706.025 – Limited to 50 pieces