A. Lange & Söhne Time Zone
The Collector’s Guide – Updated Feb 2023
After only 10 years of the brand’s initial launch in 1994, it would not be wrong to say that A. Lange & Söhne became a cult around the world, especially among the seasoned connoisseurs, mainly in Italy, Germany, the US, Japan, Singapore… On the other hand, by then there was already a growing appetite towards rather bigger pieces. Combining the mentioned aspects, it was only logical to launch a watch that would strengthen the notion that A. Lange & Söhne is now a worldwide brand and its testament arrived in 2005 – Lange 1 Time Zone.
- Introduced in 2005
- Available in platinum, gold
- Measures 41.9 mm in diameter and 11 in thickness
- Offers tens of special editions thanks to the easily customizable city ring
- Received an aesthetic and mechanical update in 2020
- Not a Worldtimer
The second it was introduced the night of 24/10/1994 in the still partly destroyed Dresden Castle, Lange 1 took the watchmaking world by storm. It was daring, original, traditional in a sense but perhaps most importantly stunningly beautiful. Its eccentric lines made Lange 1 the face of A. Lange & Söhne in no time – its most recognizable object of desire.
Lange 1 was built to be a collection. Its first special edition variant arrived in 1998 – the splendid Lange 1A with a solid gold dial and the first expansion of the collection took place in 1999 with Lange 1 Tourbillon. In the meantime, this truly iconic design came in many facets, each one is more delightful than the other.
The Lange 1 Time Zone, possibly due to its customization opportunities provided by its city ring, is the model with the highest number of variants. To my knowledge, since its introduction in 2005 to its update in 2020, the collection was offered in more than 20 different editions with different case, dial color, city ring and bracelet variations. However, all models are offered with the same case and movement designs.
Lange 1 Time Zone measures 41.9 mms in diameter and a slender 11 mms in thickness. This is 3.4 mms wider and 1.2 mms thicker than the standard Lange 1. The width is a result of the city ring and the thickness is the second time zone mechanism. It is proportionate and sits beautifully on the wrist as its original.
Its case is a classic A. Lange & Söhne – constructed on three steps with alternate finishing techniques. While the case back ring and the bezel are polished, the case band is brushed (pink gold case models prior to ~2018 is the exception) which delivers a strong and a much necessary contrast. The distinctive part of any A. Lange & Söhne case, the notched lugs are ever present with superb details with sharp angles with delightful curves.
To accompany the larger diameter, the lugs are extra curved (compared to Lange 1) , which tremendously helps to balance the watch on the wrist.
The delightful case details of the Lange 1 Time Zone 25th Anniversary. Courtesy of Watchbox.
The crown is at great size and very easy to operate. The operating pushers rest at the left-hand side of the watch. The pusher at 11 o’clock advances the outsized date whereas the lower one changes the city ring, thus, the second time zone. Each pusher is individually beveled, polished and brushed and seamlessly integrated to the overall case design. The city ring pusher’s operation is examined in the dial section below.
For the strap, Lange 1 Time Zone’s distance between lugs is 22 mms and buckle is 16 mms.
The Dial – 9 Hands 1 Beauty
For any Lange 1 variation, there is only one strict rule: You do not mess with the harmony of the sub-dials, power reserve indicator and outsize date. It is a design that is so strictly calculated and formed, with the base being the rule of thirds, even the smallest change in proportions causes significant distortion. Lange 1 Time Zone however, even though it has many added features and texts on the dial, somehow manages to keep the spirit and delivers the needed information masterfully. Alas, understandably, to some, it feels forced, and overly done.
Lange 1 Time Zone is not a world timer – it is a two Time Zone watch with 9 hands which are immediately attention grabbing and looking somehow scattered through the dial. The dial at 9 o’clock, or the bigger dial, is the home time that runs independently from the city ring. The smaller sub-dial at 5 o’clock is the second time zone dial connected to the city chosen in the ring. Each dial has its own day/night indicator which is placed at the 12 o’clock for the home time and 8 o’clock for the second timezone.
The city ring is operated via the pusher at 8 o’clock. Each push advances the ring, hence, the second time zone by one step (hour). 24 cities = adjustable for 24 different time zones. The day/night indicator becomes particularly useful if you are dealing with a time zone that is substantially different from yours. However, the day/night indication’s arrangement is a bit odd and confusing; because the nighttime (the blue part of the circle) is shown through different axes for home time and second time zone dials. The nighttime in the circles shows between 6PM and 6AM.
I am not fond of the hanging day/night indications. Though functional, the placement of the day/night indications could’ve been much better, as demonstrated with the Lange 1 Time Zone 2020 updates. Such sub-dial design is somehow present in almost all Lange pieces launched in the 2000s (Langematik Perpetual, Datograph Perpetual) but later updated.
You should note that the time zone differences between the cities are not adjustable. Which means, if a region does not adhere to the same winter or summer times as it was intended with Lange 1 Time Zone, then the watch becomes obsolete – other than the joy it delivers through its beautiful dial. Though there is a solution: If the two zones do not display the correct difference, simply hold the city ring pusher down and you can adjust the home time (bigger sub-dial) independently.
Also, expect a very stiff city ring pusher compared to all other Lange watches – perhaps except the Odysseus.
Apart from the small seconds placement in the Lange 1 Time Zone (left) all the sub-dials’ and outsized date indication’s placements are (almost) identical to the original Lange 1. This is because, as said, no one (not even Zohan) can mess with the original.
All in all, it comes down to taste. Many collectors find the original Lange 1 quite dull, notably after getting used to Lange 1 Time Zone. Yet; many also cannot wrap their minds around the time zone version as it slightly distorts the original appearance, and perhaps tweaks a bit too much – which Grand and Little Lange 1 also suffer…
The reference 116.039 – only Lange 1 Time Zone with lumed hands.
In my view, Lange 1 Time Zone is a great transformation of the original Lange 1. It is not as reserved nor subtle; it is a bit sporty but also supremely elegant and can carry different applications much better than its inspiration. Take the lumed hands. I am not a fan of the white gold Lange 1 with lumed hands (191.039) at all. However, they suit the Lange 1 Time Zone just right because the overall appearance supports such tweaks much better.
Lange 1 Time Zone - 2020 Update
In 2020, after 15 years of production and plentiful variants, Lange 1 Time Zone received its much-awaited update. The new model comes with a new caliber as well as a tidier and more streamlined indication arrangement while keeping the core design elements such as the city ring, font, size of indices etc. the same.
New Lange 1 Time Zone came in yellow, pink and white gold cases with champagne, argenté and black dials respectively. Though the black dial version created the biggest fuss, in my book, Lange 1 Time Zone is pink gold. It is just such an unbeatable combo.
The new Lange 1 Time Zone reference 136.029
The striking purity of the new Lange 1 Time Zone is immediately apparent. Hanging day/night indications are moved around the periphery of the central pinions. The result is a much cleaner and elegant look. Moreover, they are now much more legible and do not require further attention as the old versions do. The indications rotate once in 24 hours, and just as the old version, the colored section shows between 6PM and 6AM.
The second addition is a much more user-friendly feature: the daylight-saving time indication. The red dot underneath the city pointer in the second time zone dial tells you whether the selected city is applying the daylight-saving regimen or not. Albeit, not the most necessary feature, it is a well thought out update. Now you just have to pray for the EU to not drop the daylight-saving policy.
Overall, the new Lange 1 Time Zone is as beautiful as ever. It has a much more balanced display and it is easier to read information. Its updates are also in line with the recent indication updates of the brand, e.g. Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon.
Another difference is the prints. Perhaps inspired from the Lange 1 update in 2015 where the watch became much more pure thanks to thinner fonts, we see the same application here. Such a tweak tremendously contributes to the serenity of the watch and takes-off the crowd a bit. The dots between the cities are colored in grey rather than black; which further strengthens the subtle appearance.
Caliber L031.1 vs L141.1
You know, part of the joy of having a Lange is the opportunity to unstrap the watch once in a while and just admire that movement, preferably under the sun from different angles. Or as many of us do, while waiting during the traffic lights… Lange 1 Time Zone’s caliber L031.1 delivers exactly this, and perhaps even overachieves it.
As one might infer from the rather small balance wheel and its placement, the caliber L031.1 is based on the original Lange 1’s L901. And just like its inspiration, the movement nicely fills the case back (albeit the updated L141.1 is much better at this) and offers the breathtaking view we all got used to from the brand. It is pure Saxon watchmaking artistry with blue-screwed gold chatons, German Silver three-quarter plate, flat polished swan’s neck adjuster and escape wheel cap – albeit with one extra: It has not one, but two hand-engraved bridges.
Both the caliber L031.1 and the new L141.1 beat at 3Hz and offers 72 hours of power reserve. The caliber L031.1 consists of 417 intricate parts. For reference, the base caliber L901.0 is made of 365 parts. The difference comes from the added second time zone mechanism and its pusher; which some of its parts are visible above the striped three-quarter plate. A. Lange & Söhne has an excellent technical drawing of the mechanism along with an explanation:
When the button at 8 o’clock is pressed, the corrector button transfers the motion to the four-toothed corrector star – which is rigidly connected to the corrector wheel (hence the need for a strong push). The wheel engages the gear rim of the city ring and advances the ring by one step with each push. In return, this motion of the ring is transferred to the city correction pinion and then the time zone correction wheel. Via the lower protruding teeth of the city correction pinion, this pinion and the wheel are only briefly engaged for the duration of the switching procedure, after which they are uncoupled again. Via the day/night indicator wheel and an intermediate wheel the rotary motion of the correction wheel switches the twelve-toothed hour-wheel pipe by one tooth, causing the zone-time hour hand to advance by one hour.
The new Lange 1 Time Zone’s caliber L141.1 is based on the Grand Lange 1’s L095.1 – on the contrary to its advertisement as newly made from the ground-up. It is understandable why brands or perhaps many blogs tend to overstate such things. Because the movement part tends to be the biggest expense of a watch, especially for A. Lange & Söhne. However, Lange is a brand that does not need such exaggerations to justify the price and it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. On the other hand, thanks to this update, the new caliber L141.1 fills the caseback much better than the previous version as it is now 4 mms wider than the caliber L031.1.
Lange 1 Time Zone movement from 2020
Grand Lange 1 movement from 2010s
Lange 1 Time Zone Variants
Below, please find the numerous Lange 1 Time Zone references from 2005 to date including special editions:
- 116.021 – Yellow gold case / champagne dial (2005 – 2017)
- 116.021M – Leon Martens Maastricht edition – Pink gold case / silver dial (10 pieces limited edition with Maastricht for GMT +1 and an engraved three-quarter plate for the 100th year of the retailer)
- 116.025 – Platinum case / rhodium dial (2005 – 2019)
- 116.025B – Sincere Edition – Platinum case / rhodium dial (2005 – 60 pieces with Singapore on the city ring)
- 116.025M – Platinum case / rhodium dial (2007 – 10 pieces for Leon Martens of Maastricht)
- 116.026 – Buenos Aires Edition – White gold case / white dial with blued hands (2010 – 100 pieces)
- 116.031B – Lange 1 Time Zone Sincere Edition – Pink gold case / black dial (2005 – 30 pieces limited edition)
A few of my favorite special editions:
- 116.032 – Pink gold case / silver dial (2005 – 2019)
- 116.033 – Pink gold case / grey dial (2009 – 2013)
- 116.039 – White gold case / silver dial with lumed hands (2012 – 2019)
- 116.050 – Lange 1 Time Zone Dresden Edition – Honey gold case / silver dial with blue highlights (2016 – 100 pieces)
- 116.066 – Lange 1 Time Zone 25th Anniversary Edition – White gold case / white dial with blued hands and markers (2019 – 25 pieces)
- 136.021 – Lange 1 Time Zone updated version – Yellow gold case / champagne dial (2020 – Boutique edition limited to 100 pieces)
- 136.029 – White gold case / black dial (2020)
- 136.032 – Pink gold case / silver dial (2020)
Other than these models, as the main sponsor of the event Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, A. Lange & Söhne gifts a unique Lange 1 Time Zone to the best of show car owner every year since 2012 with Como on the city ring instead of Berlin as well as an engraved hunter caseback.
Apart from the models above, there are also the versions with bracelets as well as diamond fitted bezels. Indeed, thanks to its city ring, Lange 1 Time Zone is an easily customizable model and the good thing is, the watch can handle many tweaks on the dial, hands, date color! A splendid design.
Buying a Lange 1 Time Zone
When introduced in 2005, Lange 1 Time Zone’s MSRP was $30k in gold and $41k in platinum. As a general practice within the industry, the prices skyrocketed in the following years and when discontinued, the original version’s price was more than $50k for gold models and $65k for the platinum.
Luckily, the secondary market exists, and you do not have to pay such prices. As much as the private dealers try to inflate its market for some reason, a gold Lange 1 Time Zone tend to surface at one of the auctions every year couple of times and usually goes in between $30-35k depending on the condition, set and metal – sometimes even lower. On the other hand, the platinum versions tend to sell a notch above $40k.
Lange 1 Time Zone 25th Anniversary with all blue details. Courtesy of WatchBox.
Special editions, as they were abundantly produced, do not command a sizable premium, and can be a bit north of mid $30k at auctions or dealers. One exception I could put here is the 25th Anniversary variant, which we sold a year ago, was well above its peers.
The updated Lange 1 Time Zone is priced at $52k. I think this version is going to do better than the previous edition in the secondary market as it is more balanced and highly differentiated between models both with case material and dial colors.
In the last couple of years, we witnessed a strong attention towards A. Lange & Söhne in the pre-owned market. Relying on this interest, and in line with the global inflation, the brand jacked up the prices considerably, with another 15% hike is awaited this March. However, as the special pieces such as Lumens, Handwerkskunst, etc. making headlines, there tend to be under the radar pieces and Lange 1 Time Zone (especially the current gen) is surely one of them.
The second generation examples, depending on the metal, can be found at high $40s, which stands at a good value against the ever increasing MSRPs.
Lange 1 Time Zone is a very versatile and a well-made piece that you’d enjoy in whichever occasion and find yourself staring at it just to admire its beauty instead of reading the time.
Thank you for your time.
I hope this was a valuable guide for whomever is looking for a Lange 1 Time Zone or just want to learn the details and history of these pieces. If you’d like to chat, sell or buy a Lange 1 Time Zone, please kindly reach out to me via [email protected]
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