Committed to the next generation of watchmakers

The in-house training and professional development centre at A Lange & Söhne now carries the name of its Glashütte-based founder and visionary watchmaking pioneer Walter Lange.

It’s been 25 years since A. Lange & Söhne restarted its apprenticeships for young watchmaking talent. This milestone anniversary called for a special tribute as part of the celebrations: the naming of the in-house training centre after Walter Lange. The Walter Lange Training and Further Education Centre pays homage to not just the life work of the Saxony manufactory’s founder, but also his extraordinary commitment to promoting young talent and securing the future of watchmaking in the region.

This year, A. Lange & Söhne proudly looks back on an important milestone in the company’s recent history: 25 years of watchmaking training in the manufactory. From its humble beginnings in 1997, with just two apprentice watchmakers, the training centre has flourished into an internationally renowned centre of excellence for precision watchmaking over the last quarter of a century. Since relaunching its apprenticeship business on 25 August 1997, a total of 244 trainees, 228 of them watchmakers, have successfully completed their training.

Thanks to the pleasant work environment, the long-term career prospects and the diverse and varied scope of tasks, the majority of these trainees stayed true to the company after completing their apprenticeships and now contribute to the continued success of 
A. Lange & Söhne. In each of the years 2014, 2018 and 2022, one graduate from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK – Industrie- und Handelskammer) was named Germany’s best watchmaker trainee. The manufactory, which has already been awarded the distinction of “Excellent Training Company” five times by the IHK, has also undergone major development over the years: It now also offers apprenticeships in the fields of tool mechanics, cutting mechanics, office management with a focus on personnel and financial accounting, and IT specialists for system integration. State-of-the-art facilities at the training centre ensure the best working conditions and an excellent learning atmosphere. The current apprenticeship year includes twelve apprentices, who are being trained in the secrets of a craft, which is as rich in tradition as it is contemporary, established by Ferdinand Adolph Lange over 175 years ago in Glashütte.

Walter Lange – a role model and protagonist for the watchmakers of tomorrow

Walter Lange, whose fifth death anniversary was commemorated in January 2022, was passionate about promoting young talent. Following Germany’s reunification, the great-grandson of Ferdinand Adolph Lange revived his family’s legacy and brought the art of precision watchmaking back to Glashütte. Together with his partner Günter Blümlein, he managed to breathe new life into the legendary brand founded in 1845 – re-establishing it after a 40-year-long involuntary hiatus and successfully taking on the powerful competition from Swiss watchmakers. His bold vision of the modern watch crafted in Glashütte with perfection and technical finesse paved the way for other renowned manufacturers to move to the city in the Müglitz valley, putting Glashütte once again on the map for German precision watchmaking. Walter Lange described the period of setting up the business in the following words: “I was already retired when the Berlin Wall fell. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to rebuild the legacy of my ancestors. For me, it was about reviving the name A. Lange & Söhne. Most of all, I wanted to give the people of Glashütte new hope.” For his exemplary service to Saxony’s watchmaking industry, Walter Lange was made an honorary citizen of the town of Glashütte and awarded the Order of Merit of the state of Saxony as well as the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Investment in the future of craftsmanship

In order to ensure its success in the future, the company began training young people as early as 1997 in the craft that represents high value and sustainability. After all, it was clear early on that success and growth can only be ensured in the long term by excellent specialist training. Walter Lange impressed his apprentices with his expertise, his passion for the craft, and his open and warm personality. His advice to the next generation of watchmakers: “Try and make the most of your talent, and never stop in your quest to improve things.” This was also his motto in life.

Burkhard Geyer, one of the first two apprentices, who completed their training at 
A. Lange & Söhne, fondly remembers the many interactions with Walter Lange: “He enjoyed spending time with the apprentices and often looked over their shoulder and chatted with them as they worked on the watchmaking bench or lathe.” It was Walter Lange’s way of following the progress made by not only the young talent but also the processes in the manufactory, the work on new watch models, the construction of new buildings and many more such company-related topics.

Walter Lange remained committed to the company until the very end. The patron and initiator of the training and further education centre of the company he founded, continued to maintain close ties as a brand ambassador and consultant long after he stepped down from his leadership role. He saw himself as “the bridge to the past.” Equally, he saw the next generation of watchmaking talent, who receive their training in-house, as the bridge to the future.

“Walter Lange lives on in the culture of our company,” says Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid. “We’re now paying tribute to his outstanding and exemplary work by renaming our watchmaking school the Walter Lange Training and Further Education Centre. It’s our way of keeping the legacy and vision of this remarkable Glashütte native alive.”