Let's start this hands-on review firstly by saying that the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk is not your typical watch. The Zeitwerk, is an exceptional mechanical watch fitted with a digital display unlike any other watch out there. Its superb craftsmanship, clean lines and iconic design has captivated watchlifestylers around the globe since the day it was launched 6 years ago back in 2009. Now, if you are a fan of A. Lange & Söhne timepieces but you still have not purchased your first Lange, the Zeitwerk is the perfect watch to finally take the plunge. While many watchlifestylers feel that most Lange timepieces are too dressy, the Zeitwerk brings a fresh look for those seeking a less elegant and somewhat sportier looking Lange. Thanks to the hours and minutes indicated with jumping numerals and the time bridge dominating the dial, the look of the Zeitwerk is simply perfection. Fitted with a robust case measuring 41.9 mm in diameter and a thickness of 12.6 mm, the Zeitwerk feels and looks more massive than its actual dimensions. The Zeitwerk is available in platinum —200-piece limited edition ref. 140.025—, in 18K white gold with black dial as ref. 140.029 and in 18K rose gold with silver dial as ref. 140.032
Many attempts have been made to develop the perfect mechanical digital watch. But none of the different approaches yielded an easily legible and dependable timepiece. So Lange’s master watchmakers had to explore totally new avenues. The simplest and so far best-known approach relied on creeping displays with continuously rotating numeral discs. However, the legibility of such watches was seriously compromised due to tiny numerals, often displayed at an angle, and the very fine minute disc scale. Conversely, in the jumping numerals mechanism, the minute numerals are arranged on two separate discs, which allows them to be generously formatted. As far back as the 19th century, digital displays were integrated in pocket watches, for example according to the Pallweber or Dürrstein principles. Because of technical constraints, the time was displayed vertically, with the minutes beneath the hours in a rather odd configuration. But the greatest weakness of this design was its susceptibility to wear: the considerable forces involved in the switching action caused noticeable scoring. Lange’s patented jumping numerals mechanism overcomes these weaknesses. As usual in digital watches, it displays the time from left to right. The long term functional integrity of the design is assured by a fly governor that absorbs the surplus energy after every switching cycle. Its silver dial with time bridge, running seconds at 6 and power reserve at 12 o'clock is simply amazing.
The patented jumping numerals mechanism always delivers a precise reading of the time. It consists of a large hour ring that occupies the entire diameter of the movement and of two minute discs, one for the tens and one for the units. All numerals are identical in size and arranged for natural left-to-right reading. The satin brushed finish on the time bridge is spectacular and shows a nice grain on it.
While the case features highly polished lugs and bezel, the case band is satin brushed finished. The winding crown is off-centered and located at the 2 o'clock position making the watch extremely comfortable when wearing it. With the crown located at this position, its almost impossible for the crown to ever dig into your wrist considering the heavy weight of this watch at 163.4 grams.
The watch is fitted on an elegant matte black alligator strap with Lange pin buckle. The buckle is nice and soft and features large square scales and hand stitching matching the strap.
Powered by the in-house Lange calibre L043.1 composed of 415 parts and 68 jewels —2 in screwed gold chatons—, the manual wound movement provides a power reserve of 36 hours when fully wound. A patented constant-force escapement is integrated between the barrel wheel and the balance. Within the span of each minute, this mechanism only gives the mainspring a tiny moment in which it can unfold its full power. A blink of the eye suffices to advance the numeral discs and at the same time to retension a small remontoir spring. During the following 60 seconds, the remontoir spring passes the energy it has just received to the escapement group and thus sustains the oscillation of the balance. The exceptionally finished movement is visible via the display case back.
On the wrist, this is a watch the definitely wears bigger than its actual size and with remarkable presence. This is one of those watches that when you are reviewing it and you put it on, you hardly want to take it off your wrist. The A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk is one of our three favorite Langes and a timepiece that can adorn anyone's wrist while sparking watch conversations anywhere you go. If you ask us if this watch is worth the money, all we can say is "bet your bottom dollar that it is."
Sticker Price $83,200 USD. For more info on A. Lange & Söhne click here.