More than just a statue

A look at the creation of the Walter Lange memorial

On 18 September 2020, A. Lange & Söhne and the city of Glashütte honoured Walter Lange with the unveiling of his memorial. The creative process lasted more than two years, at the end of which the citizen of honour, watchmaking pioneer and company founder was presented to the residents of and visitors to his home town as a life-size bronze statue.

It’s about coming together. On the newly designed church square in Glashütte, Walter Lange seems to be approaching people and holding out his hand to greet them. The life-size sculpture depicts the man in motion – the man who brought fine watchmaking to Glashütte for the second time thirty years ago. Sculptor Thomas Jastram has succeeded in vividly capturing Walter Lange’s dynamic posture and inviting gesture. Explaining his artistic approach, Jastram said: “It was important to me to go beyond the image and find a symbolism that grounds the entire idea.” Born in Rostock and now a resident of Hamburg, the artist won the design contest announced in 2018. Through his studies at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, Jastram developed a very personal relationship with Saxony.

Over a period of two years, Jastram worked on the memorial in close communication with people who knew Walter Lange well. Their memories of him and first-hand impressions of his personality were channelled into the design. Even at the clay model stage, the depiction was of a man who was open, warm-hearted and helpful to others.

“Behind his demeanour was a special blend of empathy, responsibility and entrepreneurship,” explains Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid. “This attitude was passed along in the Lange family from generation to generation. It was deeply entrenched in Walter Lange’s character.”

A positive plaster mould was made by casting the finished clay model; this mould was later separated into five parts. In the casting workshop in Dresden, a negative silicone mould was made for each part. A layer of wax several millimetres thick was then applied to these negative moulds, corresponding to the subsequent wall thickness of the bronze sculpture. A mixture of plaster, gravel and brick dust was poured into these wax moulds, and a system for pouring in the liquid bronze was installed.

The parts were then fired in the so-called lost-wax process, also known as cire perdue. In this process, the wax was melted out in the oven, leaving no residue; the liquid bronze was then poured into the negative spaces left behind in the moulds. Once the metal had set, the outer moulds were removed, and the inner casting moulds smashed to expose the bronze parts. These were then welded together to form the finished sculpture, and the bronze’s surface was patinated and waxed.

The bronze statue was then mounted on a 2.7-metre-long pedestal made of regionally sourced sandstone. On 18 September 2020, the Walter Lange monument was officially unveiled in front of Saint Wolfgang’s church in Glashütte. This is now a memorial site recalling the founder’s life’s work and his dedication to the watchmaking city. “It was always important to Walter Lange for the city of Glashütte to do well,” said Wilhelm Schmid. “He would have liked the fact that there is a place in the city where you can meet him in spirit.”