Unlike its predecessors with pure white enamel dials, the newest addition to A. Lange & Söhne's über-classical Richard Lange Pour Le Mérite lineup comes in a 40.5-mm white-gold case fitted with a sleek black and silver dial, a tweak that lowers the price tag significantly from the previous platinum and rose gold versions launched in 2009.
The Richard Lange Pour Le Mérite (for merit) collection—which echoes the name of the military and civilian honor established by King Frederick II of Prussia in 1740—is a paean to high-precision timekeeping. The elegant watches are distinguished by a historic regulating system called a fusée and chain mechanism borrowed from pocket watches. The German watch brand, which was reconstituted after the fall of the Berlin Wall, was the first to incorporate it into a wristwatch with the Tourbillon Pour Le Mérite in 1994.
The system uses a tiny chain—measuring a mere .25 mm thick and 156 mm long, consisting of 636 links—that guarantees constant torque as it delivers energy from the mainspring to the wheel train via a conical gear called a fusée. During winding, the fusée rotates in one direction to wrap the chain around the cone, and then in the other direction as it unwinds the chain from the smallest to the widest circumference to ensure constant force and avoid loss of precision as the energy in the movement is depleted. Engineers developed a blocking system to prevent stress on the chain when fully wound and unwound, and a planetary gearing mechanism—consisting of 38 pieces installed inside the tiny 8.6-mm-diameter fusée—maintains a consistent flow of power from the fusée to the movement during winding.
The exquisitely finished calibre L044.1, visible through the sapphire crystal case back, bears all the Lange hallmarks—from a German silver three-quarter plate embellished with striping to the gold chatons to the hand-engraved balance cock, escape-wheel, and fourth-wheel cock—ensuring each piece is unique, as each artisan imparts personal flourishes.
On the wrist, all the elaborate detailing of the technical movement is concealed under a glossy black dial with slim, white Roman numeral indexes. Small red Arabic numbers add hits of color at the 15-, 30-, 45-, and 60-minute markers.
Lange will produce 218 pieces of the white-gold edition with black dial ($82,500), available exclusively through its 218 dealers worldwide rather than its own boutiques.