News: Lange and the moon phase – some noteworthy facts about the brand’s moon display

Since its revival in 1994 Lange has created a dozen movements with moon phase display, from the simple to the complex. Most of its moon phases are accurate to a day in over a century, but for one calibre that figure is over a 1000 years.

Lange just put out a press release outlining the brand’s moon phase complication, which displays the lunar month of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3 seconds. One notable and little publicised fact stood out: the rich blue colour of the moon phase disc is due to the coating on the disc that only reflects the blue portion of the visible light spectrum. More widely known is the fact that the brand’s moon phase displays are accurate to a day in 122.6 years, like that of the recently launched 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar, a similar level of accurary to thaat of other high-end brands like Patek Philippe. 

Interestingly, the press release did not mention the cal. L943.1 of the 1815 Moon Phase, in both the Emil Lange and honey gold Homage to FA Lange editions, is accurate to a day in over 1000 years. Enjoy the beautifully shot photos of Lange moon phase watches alongside objects from the Mathematics and Physics Salon of the Zwinger museum in Dresden. – SJX

1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar on lunar map, Wilhelm Gotthelf Lohrmann, Leipzig, 1824
1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar and a lunar globe, Ernst Fischer, Dresden, 1875
Lange 1 Moonphase and moon medallion, Eduard Lehr, Archenhold Observatory, Treptow, 1900
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Recommended reading: Philosopher Peter Singer chastises buyers of fine watchmaking

Peter Singer, a well known ethical philosopher now resident at Princeton, recently published an essay titled “Why pay more?”, which specifically deals with the phenomenon of expensive timepieces. 

The Swatch Sistem 51 – something Mr Singer would surely approve of

Though it is obvious he thoroughly disproves of those who buy expensive watches, his argument is slightly more nuanced than that. Specifically, public officials who shouldn’t be able to afford pricey timepieces are named, as are those who look down on wearers of cheap watches. He even pokes gentle fun at the grandest of all watchmakers: “A full-page ad for Patek Philippe has Thierry Stern, the president of the company, saying that he listens to the chime of every watch with a minute repeater that his company makes, as his father and grandfather did before him. That’s all very nice, but since the days of Stern’s grandfather, we have made progress in time-keeping. Why reject the improvements that human ingenuity has provided to us?” In the narrow boundaries of the article Mr Singer makes sense. He regards high-end watchmaking as something to be shown off, rather than a craft to be appreciated, more of an indulgence, than an art. The $100 Swatch Sistem51 launched at Baselworld this year would surely be his cup of tea. Most of those reading this blog would disagree with him, but his column is worth a read nevertheless. Read the rest of it at Project Syndicate. – SJX

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News: Christophe Claret X-TREM-1 Pinball for Only Watch 2013

Christophe Claret has created a unique X-TREM-1 Pinball for the upcoming Only Watch charity auction. With the time indicated by metal balls in tubes, the orange and blue X-TREM-1 Pinball is meant to evoke a pinball machine.

The Christophe Claret X-TREM-1 indicates the time via two metal balls which travel up mesh tubes on the side of the case, indicating the hours on the left and minutes on the right.  Both balls are cleverly propelled by magnets inside the watch case, meaning neither ball has any mechanical connection to the watch movement. Once each ball reaches the top of the tube, it jumps back to zero, in other words a retrograde mechanism.  And the pusher at 12 o’clock on the case marked “Tilt” is for rapid time adjustment; additionally there are two crowns on the back, one for time setting and the other for winding.

Two other notable movement features are the curved, titanium main plate and the inclined flying tourbillon at six o’clock, which rotates on ceramic ball bearings. Interestingly, the movement has two barrels, one for the time display and another for the tourbillon. On a full wind it will run for 50 hours. Though it appears extremely large in photos, the X-TREM-1 measures a moderate 40.8 mm by  56.8 mm, while standing 15 mm high. Because the case is lightweight – it made of blue anodised aluminum and white gold – as well as curved, it sits very well on the wrist. The X-Trem-1 typically retails for about CHF280,000, and is one of the Christophe Claret’s signature exotic complications, though the brand is now trying to make itself more accessible with the recently launched Kantharos. This, along with the rest of the Only Watch timepieces, will be sold at the end of September to benefit research in Duchenne muscular dystrophy.  – SJX

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