An in-depth look at the 1815 Chronograph “Boutique Edition”
As a big metal music and watchmaking fan, I often find myself forming analogies between two disciplines. Think of the chronograph line of A. Lange & Söhne as a metal genre… Which groups would you assign to the collections? the Datograph, Double Split, 1815 Chronograph…
Datograph must be the Black Sabbath. It requires a certain level of maturity to be understood. It is the first in line and the one that set the bar and character for others to follow. Then the Double Split. Technical Excellence that leaves many in awe but heavy, not easy to wear; or in this case, listen. Judas Priest perhaps? And then there is something with a similar soul, but a completely different sound. It is more mainstream, easy to digest; and certainly not less charming. 1815 Chronograph is perhaps Iron Maiden? If so, 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition here is certainly the re-birth of the brand – therefore the collection. It is the Book of Souls... Just like the album, 1815 Chronograph “Boutique Edition” harmonizes the best parts of years of experience.
1815 Chronograph was born out of a need, which is explained here in-depth. The Datograph was too assertive, pricey and to some, bulky. Despite its excellence, A. Lange & Söhne was still young, therefore it was not easily accepted. The brand tried to counter the weight / price problem with the introduction of the Dufourgraph in 2003. The 1815 Chronograph collection followed in 2004 in white and pink gold. A couple of pure, wearable, irresistibly charming pieces…
Then, they were discontinued only after four years and followed the second generation in 2010. The new generation was designed according to the new face of A. Lange & Söhne: More modern, cleaner, and less cluttered. It was the start of a new era for the brand, and this obviously had a reflection on watches. Alas, such touches did not delay the inevitable end as its patriarch and the second generation of the collection was also discontinued in 2014.
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However, it was a sign of something new. Happily, for us enthusiasts and collectors, it was the proof of A. Lange & Söhne’s development and the ability to read reception. It was the birth of the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition.
the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition signals that it is a modernized masterpiece right from its white gold case. Measuring at a modern and wearable 39.5 mm in diameter and 11 mm in thickness with intricate details such as the stepped bezel, the piece is an absolute joy to wear. Please note that the Datograph Up/Down measures at a rather big and hefty 41 mm in diameter and 13.1 mm in thickness; making the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition a superbly valuable alternative.
The case is constructed in the traditional A. Lange & Söhne fashion. With three-steps as the case back, case band and the bezel with alternating finish. Such an application brings more of an industrial look & feel to the pieces and the 1815 Chronograph is no exception. Where it gets more delightful is the stepped, domed bezel, as mentioned. It is possible to trace this mark in several of 1815 collection pieces from the same year such as 1815 Up/Down. Stepped bezel creates a more refined appearance, matching the 1815 collection’s rather romantic and light soul.
1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition measures 48.4 mm from lug to lug. As you can observe from the photo above, lugs slightly curved downwards to hug the wrist better. The lug profile is a defining detail of any A. Lange & Söhne watch. Here, you can see that they are notched at the base and polished which creates a delightful contrast with the brushed band. In short, the case is delightfully faceted, ever present and matches tremendously to the, again, multi-faceted and layered dial.
1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition demands your attention with its color at first glance. In 2015, it was something that A. Lange & Söhne had never utilized. Blue markers over a silver dial. It is as sober, easy-going, and charming as it gets. It is an 1815 collection piece, therefore traditional. As Iron Maiden would say it is surely Caught Somewhere in Time, albeit; offers a modern charisma that few others can come close to.
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Making our way from the domed bezel to the dial… 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition brought back one of the signatures and dearly missed elements of the collection: Pulsometer. It sits on the inclined periphery of the dial, delivers that vintage puff, and constitutes the outline of the dial.
Moving further, a rail-way minute track with beat-matching hashmarks welcome you. Each 5-minute is marked with a thick dot and each 15-minute is marked with three-dots; a traditional element which was inspired by Saxon porcelain patterns from the 19th century. After this organized crowd, we have the Arabic numerals, another 1815 collection feat. Blue of the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition is the most striking here. Just delightful.
The third layer holds the hours, minutes, and chronograph seconds pinions as well as the only text on the dial Flyback Chronograph. Compared to previous text used in Lange watches, the text here is extremely thin, modern, simple. The hours, minutes hands are made of rhodium-plated white gold whereas the chronograph hands are blued steel. The monochrome look is in perfect harmony with the rest of the dial.
On the deepest layer, 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition showcases its sub-registers with concentric circles. With such finishing, the sub-dials stand out from the rest of the dial. Instantaneous jumping minute counter carries 30 marks to match the measurement, whereas the running seconds on the left has beat matching hash-marks. The “3” and “9” are eaten, though it does not bother me. On the contrary, the size of the sub-registers is just optimal, legible, and balanced. The sub-dials are placed below the center due to movement specifications, which is going to be explained in a moment.
The blue is intense, so is the temptation.
Overall, the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition does two things extremely well: It retains the signature hallmarks which made the collection great in the first place – such as the pulsometer, multi-layered dial, etc… Moreover, it brings all these elements into modernity with small tweaks such as the thinner font, bigger and more relaxed sub-dials and more negative space in general. 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition offers serenity. As Aurel Bacs used it for the steel Lange 1 earlier, it is yoga on the wrist.
No wonder that the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition led the way for the third generation of its collection only a couple of years later.
Any A. Lange & Söhne watch has more than the dial in its arsenal. Here, the name is L951.5 and it is magnificent.
Caliber L951 series is responsible for many’s venture in watchmaking. And here it is, in its full glory, behind the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition.
It is a traditionally constructed, horizontal-clutch, column-wheel chronograph with a modest beat rate of 2.5Hz and a strong power reserve of 60 hours. However, its strength is not in its innovation, no. It is in aesthetics and craft.
The Caliber L951.5 of the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition is the updated version of the Datograph’s legendary L951.1. Therefore, except a few technical updates and better profiling of some levers and the lack of the big date pusher, the view is identical. Which means, breathtaking.
It is the harmony between the German Silver bridges on top, steel, sometimes polished, sometimes brushed levers through the depths and finally the engraved balance cock with a big wheel at the bottom. Everything is so meticulously thought out, it delivers a sense of visual coherence that a very, very few others can match. Indeed, there are better ones such as Vacheron Constantin’s 3500/260 (the absolute best chronograph movement I have ever seen) or Patek Philippe’s CHR 29‑535 PS; but when it comes to simple chronograph, this wears the crown – to my liking.
I mentioned that the caliber l951.5 of the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition is a traditionally operating chronograph. But how?
The brain of the chronograph is the column wheel. If you look closer, you’re going to see that the clutch lever, operating lever and zero-reset lever are connected to it. However, the heart of the chronograph, which supplies the action we see on the dial side, is the part with running-seconds wheel, clutch lever, and chronograph seconds’ wheel.
1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition starts with a push to thebutton at 2 o’clock. The operating lever pulls the column wheel one step and the clutch lever’s tail falls in between the pillars of the columns.Therefore, the clutch lever moves horizontally, and connects the chronograph seconds’wheel with the already running seconds’ wheel.
Even though there are many, many safety precautions, and fine adjustments in between for smooth operation such as breaking the column wheel’s or chronograph wheel’s spin, in its simplest form, this is what happens when you push the button at 2 o’clock. Stopping the chronograph works with the same principle in reverse order.
The flyback however, as written on the dial of the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition requires a bit more complexity and more interaction.
The two essential parts of the 1815 Chronograph flyback feature are the two-armed heart lever and the clutch lever. Upon pressing the button at 4 o’clock, the zero-reset lever is pressed downwards, and a pin transfers this motion to the heart lever. The heart lever holds a pin that is in permanent contact with the claw shaped flyback lever. Therefore, when the heart lever is pressed downwards, it presses the flyback lever to the left; thus, the flyback lever presses the clutch wheel and detaches it from the chronograph seconds wheel, breaks it and stops the whole mechanism as long as it is pushed.
Indeed, 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition works like almost every other chronograph. From the technical side, it does not offer as much as Patek Philippe’s or even further, Agenhor’s… However, it just has that visual stimulus that none other has – for me. The macros above speak for themselves. It is the harmonious dance between numerous levers, wheels, colors graced with various finishing techniques. That depth is just a sprinkle on top, without sacrificing from wearability.
Buying an 1815 Chronograph “Boutique Edition”
In 2015, A. Lange & Söhne priced the 1815 Chronograph “Boutique Edition” at $51.5k. As of May 2021, the price is about $61k. An understandable appreciation.
To my knowledge, the 1815 Chronograph Boutique Edition appeared at auctions only once so far, in 2018 Christie’s. There, the piece sold for $51,5k including premium. At the time, the watch was readily available almost every time you looked for at the pre-owned market for about $40-45k. However, a lot has changed since.
With the recent surge in early A. Lange & Söhne pieces and especially chronographs, it is a rare opportunity to find an 1815 Chronograph “Boutique Edition” below $50k. Good thing is, it makes complete sense in a market where a 5711 priced at $120k. Even though not everything is horological virtue on watch collecting; if you’re in the circle of people who love watchmaking because of watchmaking; 1815 Chronograph, no matter the generation, is a watch to enjoy and it deserves its place.
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