A. Lange & Söhne Watch Moves Earth And Sky
Posted: March 27, 2014
A. Lange & Söhne's Richard Lange Perpetual Calendar Terraluna stood out as a masterpiece among the dozens of new watches at January's Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva, the annual event where a small group of elite brands debut their latest creations. The Terraluna—featuring an orbital moon phase display, perpetual calendar, 14-day power reserve, constant force escapement, and the brand's characteristic oversize date—was not handcrafted in Switzerland's hallowed halls, but rather in Glashütte, Germany, a town with its own significant watchmaking heritage that has been resurrected in recent years.
The Terraluna instantly distinguishes itself with an unusual regulator dial with three intersecting subdials separately displaying hours, minutes and seconds. The calendar displays, revealed through apertures on the dial, all change instantaneously using an unprecedented cam system that builds energy throughout the day and releases it at midnight.
A perpetual calendar is one of watchmaking's premier complications as it automatically accounts for varying-length months and even leap years to allow it run without adjustment (provided it's kept running) until the year 2100. The Terraluna's leap year indicator is located in a small aperture to the right of the larger minutes ring. "That's my favorite indication," says Anthony de Haas, director of product development for A. Lange & Söhne. "It's a very expensive indication. Without it, you would have an annual calendar, which is far cheaper."
Expensive is not an understatement: the Terraluna sells for $229,200 in pink gold and $230,400 in white gold.
But there's much more to the Terraluna than initially meets the eye. Turn the watch over, and you discover the stunning orbital moon display for which the watch is named. The system employs three discs—representing earth, moon, and sky—that show the position of the moon relative to the earth and the sun, which is symbolized by the movement's golden balance wheel. The earth disc completes its counterclockwise rotation every 24 hours, while a scale around the perimeter of the display allows you to read times around the globe. The celestial disc—studded with 2,016 laser-cut stars—also turns counterclockwise, orbiting the earth once per lunar month (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 3 seconds). An aperture in the celestial disc reveals the moon phase disc below, which also takes a lunar month to completes its clockwise revolution. The inventive system is so accurate that 1,058 years will pass before the display needs to be corrected by a single day.
While the Terraluna is not a limited edition watch, production effectively will be limited by the company's capacity to build them.
To read more about German watchmaking, see Beyond Switzerland in the April issue of Cigar Aficionado, on newsstands now.
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