A unique opportunity

A. Lange & Söhne celebrates the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago

A historic date – 9 November marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Iron Curtain had previously divided Berlin and Germany into East and West for 28 years. The fall of the Wall not only paved the way to Germany’s reunification but also helped to revive Lange’s watchmaking tradition in Glashütte.

In 1845, inspired by the ambition to craft precise pocket watches, the Dresden watchmaker Ferdinand Adolph Lange established the first watch manufactory in Glashütte. A. Lange & Söhne timepieces quickly gained global acclaim. It was the start of a century-long success story that ended abruptly after the Second World War with the expropriation of the family-owned enterprise.

The turning point as a new beginning

The forced interruption resulting from the cold war and the division of Germany lasted 40 years until Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s great-grandson Walter Lange seized the historic opportunity – shortly after Germany was reunified – to revive his family’s tradition in its fourth generation. This was an emotional event for the 66-year-old trained watchmaker, who had stayed in touch with the people of his home town through annual trips to Glashütte and had never given up hope that his dream to continue the family heritage would come true one day.

In 2000 Walter Lange recalled the autumn of 1989: “One of the most important and likely most memorable days of my life was 9 November, the day on which the Wall fell down [...] I never dreamed that I would live to witness such scenes and later experience reunification. My thoughts immediately turned to the people of my home town Glashütte.”

Precisely 145 years after his great-grandfather started the business, Walter Lange’s long-nurtured dream finally came true: he re-registered the brand on 7 December 1990. Walter Lange described his feelings in his biography: “Of course, when we began in 1989, I had no other goal in mind than to revive the grand tradition of A. Lange & Söhne in Glashütte. But I was also just as concerned for the people of Glashütte who participate in this tradition and who deserve an intact and competitive watch industry that can offer them work and a livelihood.”

On 24 October 1994, after four years of intensive development work, Walter Lange and his business partner Günter Blümlein acquainted the world with the first four models of the new era, among them the LANGE 1, at the Dresden Royal Palace. With the combination of traditional watchmaking artistry and technical innovations, the collection defined new standards and marked the beginning of a new era.

Today, in Lange boutiques around the world, a small piece of the Berlin Wall – a part of the “Experience Library” – recalls the historic event that paved the way for the revival of A. Lange & Söhne.