Born in 1994: Lisa and the LANGE 1

More than 200 watchmakers, female and male, work in various assembly departments of the Lange manufactory. Lisa is one of them. The young woman, who will turn 25 this year, is assembling a watch that is as old as she is: the LANGE 1.

The first Lange collection of the new era was presented on 24 October 1994. The debut included the LANGE 1, which has since then symbolised the company’s success like no other watch. Its asymmetric dial design with the prominent outsize date was polarising at first, but ultimately became stylishly pioneering. “The LANGE 1 that I am assembling today hardly differs in looks from the first model,” Lisa explains. “Its movement, however, has changed fundamentally.” In 2015 the original calibre L901.0 was replaced with the newly developed calibre L121.1. “From the dial side, this is virtually unnoticeable,” Lisa adds.

The design of the watch evolved only in terms of minor details. Its dial shows a slightly reworked font, and the bezel is somewhat narrower. The internal life of the LANGE 1 has changed even more. The precisely jumping display of the outsize date now switches exactly at midnight. The escapement features a cam-poised balance with a freely oscillating balance spring crafted in-house. And the seconds hand stops exactly at 12 o’clock when the 72-hour power reserve has expired. All wheels are located beneath the three-quarter plate, which, as Lisa notes, “is more difficult to assemble but suits the traditional shape of the plate better.”

Despite this challenge, Lisa especially enjoys the moment she integrates the three-quarter plate during the second assembly pass. “It fascinates me to see how the plate visually changes when the Glashütte ribbing is applied. Then you can really tell what makes Lange watches unique.” For Lisa, one of the most difficult challenges of her job is to prevent the decorated and polished surfaces from becoming scratched during the assembly phase.

Sometimes, while at work, the young professional considers the similarities and differences between people and mechanical watches. “Power reserve is one example: the LANGE 1 has to be rewound every 72 hours. We also have to make sure that we regularly recharge our own batteries,” Lisa says, having contemplated this comparison. She recharges her own batteries by pursuing sports activities and spending time with friends. “And the date display reminds me to stay in the here and now. That’s important in my work and helps me avoid mistakes.”

Today, many people find it difficult to stay concentrated for hours on end. Her friends are amazed at Lisa’s perseverance. “We practiced that from the moment we started training,” she recalls. “Initially, I had problems staying fully concentrated throughout the whole day, but in the meantime, I’ve become quite good at it.” She takes short breaks that act as her active “mini breaks”, which offer her the opportunity to exercise and relax her back, neck and eye muscles together with her colleagues for a few minutes. Briefly sitting upright and gazing outdoors helps too. The watchmakers’ benches in the bright atelier room face the large window fronts. A steep rock face surrounded by woodland is located just a few metres away. Occasionally, deer forage amid the trees. She has also spotted climbers.

A tour of Lisa’s department and of the other watchmaker ateliers quickly reveals that many young people work here. “In our working environment, the stereotype of the elderly white-haired watchmaker doesn’t apply at all,” says Lisa with a smile. In fact, of the more than 200 watchmakers who work in the manufactory, 30 percent are younger than 30, like Lisa.

The young woman from the nearby city of Bautzen, Germany, started training as a watchmaker when she was 19. “I wanted to learn an artisanal craft because I like working with my hands.” As a child, she was a fan of bricolage, and specialised in art as a bachelor’s degree. It was more by coincidence that she visited the A. Lange & Söhne information centre at a vocational recruitment event and tried her hand at working with watch parts on the spot. After three years of in-house training, she was assigned to the LANGE 1 assembly department. “For me, that was a great stroke of luck because this timepiece is really my favourite watch: it has the typical face that immediately comes to mind when the name Lange is mentioned.”