A Detailed Look at the Lange 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst

The 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is a 30-piece limited edition with a hand-engraved dial and gorgeously finished movement. Here's an up close look at the watch, complete with original photos, specs and the price.

Introduced just last year, the 1815 Tourbillon is the entry-level tourbillon wristwatch from A. Lange & Söhne, if there is such a thing. The 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst, on the other hand, is a beautifully elaborate limited edition, the latest in the Handwerkskunst series of watches that celebrates artisanal decoration.

Handwerkskunst 

Translating as “craftsmanship”, handwerkskunst is the moniker applied to limited editions that are decorated by hand. Most have intricate hand-engraving, like the Zeitwerk and Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, though last year’s Lange 1 Tourbillon was characterised by its black enamel dial. The fifth in the series, the 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is distinguished by two qualities: a hand-engraved, solid gold dial, and a movement featuring a more intricately shaped three-quarter plate.

The hand-crafted dial

The dial starts as a disc of 18k pink gold. A skilled engraver then carefully uses a burin to carefully engrave the dial with a technique known as tremblage, giving the surface a fine, granular finish. After the engraving is complete, the dial is plated with black rhodium, giving it a dark grey colour.

While the tremblage surface is recessed, the rest of the dial is raised, with the hour numerals, logo and minute track in relief. The black rhodium is then polished off the raised surfaces of the dial, returning them to the original pink gold colour and creating a warm contrast between the two tones.

The result is a dial that appears simple at a distance, but impressively intricate up close. Though done by hand, the tremblage engraving is satisfying consistent. The only drawback of this hand-engraving is the enlarged logo that is noticeably larger than that on the ordinary version of the 1815 Tourbillon. Because the letters of the logo have to be large enough for the engraving to be done around and in between, the size is inevitable.

A good movement made better

Mechanically the L102.1 movement inside the 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is identical to that in the regular version of the watch. It has the two key features the calibre: a zero-reset seconds hand as well as a hacking tourbillon cage. Both features are conceived to improve the precision of time-setting. When the crown is pulled, the seconds hand returns to 12 o’clock and stops, while the tourbillon cage is halted by a tiny arm. Once the time is set and the crown pushed back in, both the seconds hand and tourbillon cage continue on their way, ensuring the time is correctly synchronised.

The tiny lever to stop the tourbillon is visible above the tourbillon bridge

But that’s not what makes the movement special. To start with, the movement in the 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is decorated differently, with the German silver three-quarter plate bearing a frosted finish. And the bridge for the tourbillon is partially open-worked, as well as hand-engraved. All the lettering on the movement and case back is also hand-engraved, with the telltale serif font of the technique.

The hand-engraved lettering

A bit less than three-quarters but a lot more work

Lange’s signature three-quarter plate found in all its movements is always beautiful decorated, but can be criticised for having a simple outline. The movement in the 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst retains the three-quarter plate, but one with a far more beautiful and complex form.

A sizeable amount of the three-quarter plate has been removed to show the tourbillon in its entirety. This creates a plate with several gorgeously formed inwards and outward angles (sometimes the ordinary 1815 Tourbillon lacks), providing better view of the tourbillon, but more significantly, finishing that is more complex and time-consuming.

Beyond the new, circuitous outline, the three-quarter plate has also been open-worked to reveal the barrel, again providing an opportunity for more hand-finishing with the polished, bevelled edges.

Specs

The dimensions of the 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst are identical to the regular model, with a case diameter of 39.5 mm and height of 11.1 mm.

Pricing

Limited to one 30 pieces, the 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst is available only at Lange boutiques. It is priced at €156,000 before taxes. In Singapore it will cost S$273,000 including tax.

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Pre-SIHH 2016: Cartier Introduces Three Complicated, Jewelled Timepieces for Ladies

Cartier will introduce a trio of complicated watches for ladies at SIHH 2016, each bejewelled and bearing the familiar Cartier aesthetic but equipped with an in-house mechanical movement.

Cartier demonstrates its historical prowess as a jeweller, and more recent accomplishments as a watchmaker, with the trio of ladies’ watches that will make their debut at SIHH 2016. All three watches are entirely new – one even has a newly developed movement – but classically Cartier in style; they combine design, gem-setting and creative mechanical watchmaking. Panthère Mystérieuse Invented in the 19th century by a clockmaker turned magician, the mystery clock became a Cartier signature in the early 20th century when the firm presented the first of its lavish mystery timepieces made of gold, crystal and gemstones. In 2013 the mystery time display was miniaturised into wristwatch form, and also put into the new Clé de Cartier case recently. The mystery wristwatch remained something for the gentleman, until now.

The Panthère Mystérieuse combines the jeweller’s signature feline with a transparent, mystery time display. A motif first used by Cartier in 1914, the panther is found here languid and perched on top of the case, gazing at the transparent dial.

The crown is recessed into the case at 10 o’clock, giving the watch a sleek outline

Made of six parts to create the three-dimensional cat, the 39.5 mm case is white gold and covered in black lacquer. The watch is set with a total of 621 diamonds, with some sprinkled across the lacquered surfaces, and the rest covering the entire panther. As is tradition at Cartier, the panther’s eyes are made of two green emeralds. 

While elegant jewelled watches such as this are typically quartz, this is mechanical, equipped with the same calibre 9981 MC movement found in the men’s mystery watches. It’s hand-wound movement cleverly constructed so that most of its footprint is occupied by the twin sapphire discs that carry the hands, leaving them floating in midair.

The 9981 MC movement as seen in the Clé de Cartier mystery wristwatch for men

The Panthère Mystérieuse will cost €155,000 on an alligator strap, and €335,000 with a white gold bracelet entirely set with diamonds (bringing the total to over 15 carats). Panthères & Colibri The Panthères & Colibri is named after the dial motif that features a large, reclining panther, a smaller hidden panther cub, and a hummingbird (which translates as colibri in French). Made of a white gold disc, the dial is lacquered black, while the large panther is also white gold and set with diamonds. Both the baby panther and hummingbird are made of pink gold. And the case is also set with diamonds, bringing the total weight of diamonds to 5.7 carats.

But it’s not just fancy decoration, the three elements of the dial are not static. In fact, the hummingbird is an on-demand power reserve indicator, while the panther cub is an automaton that emerges when the power reserve display is activated.

Pressing and holding the the crown of the watch puts the movement into action. The hummingbird at two o’clock will fly upwards along the semicircular track, stopping to indicate the power reserve. Twelve o’clock indicates a fully wound movement, and one o’clock half empty. Simultaneously, the panther cub emerges from under the mother panther, staying out as long as the crown is depressed. Once the crown is released, everything goes back to their original positions.

The 9915 MC movement inside is an entirely new calibre, comprising a hand-wound movement with an complication mechanism on top for the power reserve functions. While an ordinary movement that indicates the time and date has about 100 components, this is made up of 367 components, illustrating its complexity. 

A set of planetary gears lie behind the power reserve indicating hummingbird, and the baby panther requires a Maltese cross gear. Both are linked by a large, toothed ring that spans the entire dial and is connected to the crown, ensuring both the hummingbird and baby panther spring into action at the same time. The Panthères & Colibri will cost €170,000 on an alligator strap, and €350,000 with a matching white gold bracelet covered in diamonds for a total of 24.5 carats. Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night First introduced as a men’s watch in 2014, the Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night has now evolved into a ladies’ wristwatch, powered by the same movement but featuring an elaborately decorated dial.

Heavily inspired by vintage Cartier comet clocks, the Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night shows the hours on the top half of the dial, while the minutes are shown by a conventional central hand. The lower half of the dial is a moon phase display, indicated by a large, ring-tipped hand.

Cartier comet clock, c. 1920

The day and night disc with a stylised Sun and Moon point to the hours, which are Roman numerals printed in silver powder lacquer that reveal their texture up close. The moon phase is set with diamonds, with the new moons on each end also set with blue sapphires.

The movement inside is the 9912 MC, a self-winding movement that’s the same calibre found in the men’s Day and Night wristwatch. Elegant as the dial is, the watch is slightly large for a ladies’ timepiece, measuring over 43 mm in diameter.

The Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night will cost €75,000.

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