Wilhelm Schmid, CEO of A. Lange & Söhne, talks to us about the brand’s digital transformation, the Zeitwerk and Odysseus models and more
As its name suggests, the ZEITWERK HONEYGOLD “Lumen” brings three distinctive elements of A. Lange & Söhne’s craftsmanship into one watch? Would you say this is the ultimate Lange model?
With its well-thought-out digital display, the ZEITWERK sets itself apart from the multitude of mechanical analogue watches. Our latest “Lumen” edition in honey gold takes the revolutionary technology and design concept of the series to the next level. It is a unique timepiece, but I wouldn’t describe it – or any other of our models – as “ultimate” because it would indicate that there is no more to come.
The new ZEITWERK jumping hours watch doubles its power reserve compared to the previous calibre. Other than this what else has changed?
In the second generation of the ZEITWERK movement – the new calibre L043.9 – we have also integrated a pusher for correcting the hour indication. This may sound simple but required a considerable design effort. In order to enable the correction independently of the switching cycles of the time display, a clutch uncouples the hour ring from the jumping numerals mechanism each time the pusher is pressed.
While gold has always been a mainstay for the brand, you tested the waters with the ODYSSEUS. How was it received? Do you intend to expand the steel sports watch portfolio?
The ODYSSEUS has turned out to be a great success. Its development was driven by Lange owners who told us that they love our watches so much that they didn’t want to take them off when going on vacation or during sports activities. Both, the stainless-steel and the white-gold versions have met these expectations fully and completely. The ODYSSEUS is our sixth watch family, which means that it could be expanded in various directions regarding use of material, technical features or new designs.
What effect has the pandemic had on Lange, and how has the brand been managing the disruptions?
After analyzing the new situation, we decided to present all the watches that were planned to be launched in 2020 and 2021, and we did. Nevertheless, our company has changed more in the past two years than in many years before. 2020 was, above all, a milestone in digital transformation. And the advantages of digitalization will for sure last beyond the pandemic. Nevertheless, A. Lange & Söhne has not changed in its essence during this time. The craftsmanship that shapes our way of thinking and working cannot be completed by working from home.
Where does the Middle East market figure in the global scheme of things for the brand?
I’m happy to say that A. Lange & Söhne enjoys the highest degree of recognition and appeal in the Middle East. The number of knowledgeable connoisseurs and collectors who appreciate the exceptional craftsmanship and technological sophistication of our timepieces is continuously growing. The significance we attach to the market is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that we chose Dubai as one of only two cities in the world where we have opened a second boutique and one of the first handpicked venues where Lange friends were able to admire the ZEITWERK HONEYGOLD “Lumen” with their own eyes.
You have helmed the brand for over a decade now. Where do you see Lange in the world of watches 10 years from now?
Over the past decade, we have sharpened the profiles of our five – meanwhile six – watch families, we increased the proportion of complicated timepieces and expanded our global network of own boutiques. As it is our ambition to never stand still, we will continue the positive developments in the years to come.