How A. Lange & Söhne brings its timepieces to life on a much larger scale
A watch, 50 times larger than the original: Lange precision watchmaking literally makes a big impression with the five-metre-tall giant watches. With exact XXL replicas of the timepieces, the Saxon manufactory gives Lange connoisseurs a deep insight into the world of watch mechanics, while also showing all other enthusiasts the technical and aesthetic subtleties of their craftsmanship. Used as showpieces at trade fairs and events, these imposing works of art reflect the manufactory’s strive for technical masterpieces of craftsmanship, inspiring wonder and admiration. They are a reminder of the quest for perfection and the highest quality associated with the A. Lange & Söhne brand.
A colossal task: designing, manufacturing and transporting the giant watch
An A. Lange & Söhne watch is immediately recognisable – whether it’s on a wrist or a larger-than-life sculpture on a trade fair stand. The hallmarks include distinctive case shapes and lugs, alternating polished and satin-finished surfaces, and recognisable dial designs, appliques, and hands. But, just like its smaller counterpart, the back of the larger model is just as stunning as the front, as viewers can gaze upon the visible movement featuring many shiny details.
Realising these style-defining characteristics – including the finissage down to the smallest detail – on a scale of 50:1 with the same quest for perfection is a literally gigantic task, even for the specialists at A. Lange & Söhne, who take around nine months to develop and manufacture the piece. Some of the challenges included scaling and dimensioning all external and internal components, selecting materials, manufacturing and logistics. Particularly difficult here proved to be the consideration of the weight and statics of the sculptural masterpiece. Take, for example, a tiny part weighing one gram, this would become 125 kilograms when magnified 50 times. If you were to rebuild the entire watch on this scale and make all the parts from the same materials as the wristwatch model, the total weight would be around three tons.
Influenced by Walter Lange’s credo to never stand still, nothing seems impossible for the Lange team. When implementing such an ambitious project, they are constantly faced with the challenges of producing a large model in line with the demands of precision watchmaking. For example, lighter materials such as aluminium and titanium are used to reduce weight. Large components are constructed with a wooden core and a metal shell in a sandwich structure. Special materials are used for other parts like the rubies and bearing jewels in the movement. And special tools for manufacturing and finissage were made too.
Twice is better
Lange watchmakers always work towards a single goal: building watches that perfectly meet their own requirements and the requirements of their customers. In doing so, they do not question the effort involved, only the result. All procedures and processes are designed to push the boundaries of what is possible. This also means that at A. Lange & Söhne every movement is assembled twice – regardless of whether it is a wristwatch or a giant watch.
As with the wristwatch counterparts, hours of work and a great deal of dexterity are required to assemble the carefully fine-tuned parts of the movement, which – depending on the model – boasts an impressive diameter of around 1.5 meters. It is then completely disassembled again and all parts are decorated and polished at a scale of 1:50. Only after the plates have been adorned with the characteristic Glashütte ribbing and the last chaton has been gold-plated and mirror-polished is the movement put together a second and final time.
The art of watchmaking made virtual
While the giant watches, thanks to their imposing size, represent the fascinating details of Lange’s watchmaking and craftsmanship in real space, the Holo Watch depicts a virtual version. Innovative technology is used to create an immersive experience, in which the selected watch models are projected in 3D. The detailed digital timepieces slowly rotate 360 degrees around their vertical axis and invite you on a journey of discovery, where they can be viewed extensively from every angle.
On request, technical and aesthetic features, such as the chiming of a minute repeater or the time display in different time zones, can be shown at an exciting size in 3D. A voyage of discovery into the depths of the movement is also possible. Here, the viewer can admire the precise interaction of the many components, as well as the finissage of each individual component, completed to the highest standards. The presentation even reveals a few details that are otherwise not visible through the sapphire-crystal caseback of the wristwatch.
Bridging the gap between high-tech and traditional craftsmanship, the Holo Watch creates an artistic experience in which the visitor can be immersed in an interactive digital version of precision watchmaking. The manufactory will also be able to use this to present new products to customers all over the world at the same time and offer them a virtual seat in the front row. The manufactory can also invite visitors on a journey of discovery into the world of A. Lange & Söhne at events held jointly with its partners, like the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and the Concours of Elegance Hampton Court.
The giant watch in figures
- Scale: 50:1
- Volume: 503=125,000x a wristwatch
- Height: 5 metres
- Diameter: 2.15-2.22 metres*
- Movement diameter: 1.50-1.65 metres*
- Weight: 700-900 kg*
The holo watch in figures
- Height: 1.95 or 3 metres *
- Display size: 135 x 81 cm or 250 x 150 cm *
- Weight: 475 or 1,100 kg *
*depending on model