An overlooked gem: the Lange 1 Soirée
Since its introduction in 1994, the time only Lange 1 came in tens of different combinations, be it the case, the dial, or the bracelet. I must admit that almost all of these editions are irresistibly charming, be it the menacing Darth, or the mythical .027x… Most of the combinations, however, were monochromatic – perhaps a bit strong to some, overly Teutonic and serious as intended. Though we know that A. Lange & Söhne is not against playfulness, or romanticism e.g., Emil Lange Moonphase. And this one here is the brand’s gift to the ones searching for the same soft, romantic soul on the seductive Lange 1 collection: Lange 1 Soirée with mother of pearl dial.
Most dials in A. Lange & Söhne catalogue are made of solid silver. Yet, even prior to the introduction of the Lange 1 Soirée, A. Lange & Söhne utilized various materials and patterns for dials, such as the solid gold guilloche dial of the reference 112.021, the enamel on the Langematik Anniversary, or the unique, solid pink gold dial of the Tourbillon Pour le Mérite. These are all extremely charming and collectible pieces. However, I must admit that none come close to the Lange 1 Soirée’s ever-changing nature. This watch draws you in like none other.
A. Lange & Söhne introduced the Lange 1 Soirée in 2001 with white gold case and a full mother of pearl dial. The sparkling Lange 1 Soirée edition came in two variations: Reference 110.029 with leather strap and the reference 160.029 with an integrated, white gold bracelet made by Wellendorff. In 2001, the price for the leather strap version was €18,700 and €29,100 for the bracelet version – a drastic difference for the bracelet, which kind of substantiates the premium paid for original Lange bracelets today.
Lange 1 Soirée does not differentiate from its parent collection in terms of design but shows a small difference in terms of size. The collection measures at just perfect 38,5 mm in diameter, however 10,4 mm (instead of the regular 9,8 mm) in thickness due to the thin layer of mother of pearl coated over the solid silver dial. The design is as we know it – full of delightful details. Lange 1 Soirée is a delight with its satin finished case band contrasting against the polished bezel and the back, and its curved, generously beveled, and notched lugs.
Lange 1 Soirée mainly comes in two different dials: Plain or guilloche mother of pearl. Combined with different colors, case metals, the Soirée name was given to six different references, excluding the later Little Lange 1 variants. Albeit classified as “ladies watches” it is nonsense as any Soirée is a brilliant companion for whomever for formal and jeans-type events alike.
Mother of pearl is found within the shells of the oysters as an extra thin layer. Such beauty is developed in order to protect the inside of the shells from outside effects, parasites in particular. The iridescent effect, which makes the Lange 1 Soirée pieces particularly irresistible, is caused by the way light reflects on the layers of mother of pearl. In one way, each mother of pearl layer is unique, like nature’s handwriting.
Creating a dial with a mother of pearl is certainly demanding. It starts with the selection of the shells, depending on the required hue. According to a friend, the best shells come in white. Following, the shells go through a polishing process to reveal their true beauty. From there, the shells are cut via a CNC machine according to specifications. The rest is placed at the artists’ hands to carve motifs, ink the numerals, etc…
Comparing two plain and guilloche Lange 1 Soirée pieces, I must admit that my choice lies with the guilloche version. These are more subtle, more restrained but still there. Guilloché brings just the depth that the thin layer of mother of pearl needs, carrying the references 110.030, 110.031 to another level. Non-lumed hands are just a cherry on top.
Every Lange 1 Soirée was born after such a rigorous process, and you know what? Worth it! The Lange 1 Soirée is a watch that one cannot get bored of. With every tilt of the wrist, with every shadow laying upon the piece, or sunlight changing its direction, you discover a new watch glancing at you. Sometimes it is a soothing white mirror reflecting the trees on your walking route, sometimes it is a rainbow. The applied indices on the mother of pearl minute chapter and the printing on the second, logo and power reserve chapters feel like they’re floating in serenity, emphasizing the depth of the guilloche dial even more.
I must admit that the Lange 1 collection was the perfect choice for the mother of pearl dial with its spacious design that allows the MOP and guilloche to breathe and showcase its beauty from every possible angle. Please find the reference, dial color breakdown below:
- 110.029, white gold, plain mother of pearl (MOP)
- 110.030, white gold, guilloche
- 110.031, pink gold, guilloche
- 110.041, platinum, plain with dark tint
- 110.049, white gold, plain with blue tint made for Dubail and limited to 25 pieces
Apart from the Lange 1 Soirée, A. Lange & Söhne utilized the MOP material in many other references from different collections such as the Cabaret, Arkade, Saxonia and even with the 1815 Chronograph. Though very charming pieces, especially the 1815 Chronograph, none of the pieces can walk on the fine line of versatility as the Lange 1 does. The others seem too ostentatious – whereas the Lange 1 Soirée with guilloche sits just on the right place. It is playful and subtle on your demand.
The Lange 1 Soirée carries the caliber L901.4 instead of the caliber L901.0 as we know from all other Lange 1 editions. Since the mother of pearl layer adds a certain thickness, the base caliber’s pinions are adjusted to accompany – hence the new caliber reference. Lange 1 Soirée comes close to four days of power reserve (officially three) with its double barrels and beats at 3Hz, featuring a hacking-seconds mechanism for precise time-setting.
Finished with the usual A. Lange & Söhne care, even though the caliber L901.4 does not shine as much as the front side of the Lange 1 Soirée, it is a delight to look at, put under the loupe, and get lost in time. From the gold chatons to hand-engraved balance cock, blued screws and polished escape-wheel cap, whatever makes an A. Lange & Söhne caliber is there in great harmony. In the end, the caliber L901.0 is the Lange caliber.
Buying a Lange 1 Soirée
The last 2 years has shown a great upward trajectory for the whole watch market. A. Lange & Söhne, especially the early references, got a piece of the action too. Naturally, the face of the brand – Lange 1 collection carries the flag among the non-special edition collections. To be honest, it was a long time coming. It is great that such special pieces are now enjoyed by many more people than 5 years ago. On the other hand, such appreciation prevents many new incomers from reaching out to some special pieces like the Darth, 101.028, etc…
Considering the drastic increase in many other early Lange 1 references (the Darth for example trades around $55k whereas it was $30k not long ago), I sincerely think that the Lange 1 Soirée is still one of the few very special, attainable and under the radar versions. Considering the rather short production years, as well as the difficulty of creating these pieces, I think the Soirée is an undervalued gem as of September 2021.
If you’d like to add a Lange 1 Soirée to your collection or sell one, please kindly email firstname.lastname@example.org