A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Moonphase "Emil Lange"
If Rolex has the Stelline, so does Lange. 1815 or Emil Lange Moonphase… A delightful, romantic and playful rarity among extremely engineered, dense pieces from A. Lange & Söhne. Limited to 150 pieces in platinum (231.035) and 250 in pink gold (231.031), a whimsical jewel from 1999 – produced as a homage to Emil Lange’s 150th birth year.
Emil Lange is the second born of A. Lange & Söhne’s and Glashütte Watchmaking Industry’s founder Ferdinand Adolph Lange. He joins the company in 1871 along with his brother Richard Lange and this dynamic duo makes the brand a worldwide known powerhouse from Germany. Following his brother’s departure from the company, he run A. Lange & Söhne by himself after 1887. Emil Lange brought the manufacture to the highest international honors and international recognition – especially in the USA.
Under his management, A. Lange & Söhne hit the 30,000-pocket watch production mark since its foundation, stepped onto the marine-chronometer as well as highly complicated watches with imported movements from Switzerland. Emil Lange was awarded the cross of the Knight of the French Legion of Honor for his services as a juror at the Paris world fair and the presentation of the “Jahrhunderttourbillon” (tourbillon of the century). The model was auctioned in 1990 and sold for 1,500,000 Marks.
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Moonphase “Emil Lange” in platinum
Furthermore, Emil Lange was given the honorary title of “Kommerzienrat” (commercial councilor) by King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony for his success as businessman. In 1898, German Emperor Wilhelm II commissioned A. Lange & Söhne to make a pocket watch that would be presented to Sultan Abdul Hamid II during an official visit of the Ottoman Empire. The watch is in the collection of the Topkapı Palace. Another well known model is the reference 42500 – the Grand Complication from 1902.
It was only reasonable to celebrate such an influential figure’s 150th birth anniversary with an exceptional piece. In my opinion, Emil Lange Moonphase delivers everything just perfectly.
A. Lange & Söhne has always been an engineered brand. It is evident in Blümlein’s quotes as well as the tactile construction and details of each and every watch. The cases have always been three-body, blessed with different finish techniques to emphasize each level. Lugs are usually thick, notched at the base and screwed into the case rather than flowing through as Swiss do. From the first Saxonia which was nicknamed as the biscuit to later complicated models such as Datograph or Double Split which brought the hockey puck moniker to Lange watches, the Germanic feeling has always been evident. Except this one here.
Slender, polished profile. Courtesy of Paul Boutros
This watch is so not an A. Lange & Söhne; but at the same time is… Measuring at 35.9 mms and a slender 8 mms in thickness, with thin lugs; the flow between the case and lugs is easy going. Due to its size, especially in pink gold, Emil Lange feels much lighter on the wrist unlike almost any other Lange. Although the wrist presence is one of the brand’s main selling points, with such an under the radar piece, it is surely acceptable. Emil Lange’s case finish and construction are still thoroughly A. Lange & Söhne. Three body case with soldered lugs and polished case band (satin finished for the platinum) Emil Lange testifies that size does not matter – at least here.
The case back is individually numbered for both editions. The case numbers for the pink gold (231.031) version is between 124001 – 124250 and 124251 – 124400 for the platinum (231.035). Lug and buckle width are 19 and 16 mms, respectively.
The dial however is something else; which makes Emil Lange Moonphase a whole different story. It is as playful and captivating with nifty details that you cannot see in any other A. Lange & Söhne watch. Indeed, I call this period the experimentation era in the brand’s modern history. A broad look reveals that every special edition from the early days of the brand is completely different from their known offerings, which is why they’re so valuable to Lange collectors. 1815 Kalenderwoche, 1815 Cuvette, Langematik Anniversary…
The dial is a classic 1815 with railway minute track, three-dots on each 15-minute markers and classic hands. It is crafted from solid silver. Seven gold Appliques serve as the Big Dipper of the Ursa Major constellation and the round appliques around as the other stars. The 3-6-9 are represented as beautiful stars, covering the Big Dipper and the stunning, solid-gold Moonphase disc. Although a small and under the rader piece, Emil Lange Moonphase’s quirky details with incredible attention to detail attracts many curious eyes around.
With the lowered sub-dials, it strongly bases itself on the 1815 Up/Down introduced in 1997 – which incidently uses the same movement base.
From Reinhard Meis’ Book “Great Timepieces from Saxony”. Courtesy of Lange Uhren GmbH
Even though some people dislike the “12” at the top, I think it wonderfully breaks the dot and star indexes, bring a beautiful contrast to romantic appearance and forms a great focal point. Emil Lange does not have extremely angled indices nor forced symmetry. It is random; yet extremely pleasurable to observe.
Emil Lange Moonphase operates on the caliber L943.1 which is based on the workhorse caliber L941.1 of the 1815 time only collection. It beats at 3Hz, delivers 45 hours of power reserve and houses a 1,058-year accurate Moonphase indication.
The finish is exceptional as expected from A. Lange & Söhne. Please note that this was a $13k watch back in 1999 and evaluate the quality. The superb striping, gold chatons to follow the gear train, hand-engraved balance cock and the delightful color harmony is something to behold. The depth of the stripe combined with the German Silver’s warm hue reveals an incredible beauty. And when such beauty blends with character, it becomes bigger than the sum of its parts as happened here. Just beautiful.
Buying an Emil Lange Moonphase
Without a single doubt, Emil Lange Moonphase is one of the most beautiful and unique offerings of A. Lange & Söhne. If you like the pleasure of owning something truly special, this is a watch to have from the brand. With its vintage charm and quirk details, I do not know any other watch since 1994 that I can name by its side.
As mentioned above, the launch price was $13k in 1999. Since Lange produced 400 of these beauties, they come up pretty often both at auctions and the pre-owned dealers. The prices at the secondary market has been safely moving around $35 – 40k for the last couple of years; which makes this piece a very trustable purchase.
1815 Moonphase "Honey Gold"
The update to 35,9 mm and increasingly popular Emil Lange Moonphase arrived in 2010 as part of the 165th Anniversary of F.A. Lange collection.
The reference 212.050 is fashioned in the exclusive honey gold and measures a modern 37,5 mm in diameter. Case finish / structure is typical A. Lange & Söhne, constructed on three-steps with alternating finishing techniques and notched lugs.
The most striking element of the silver dial is without a doubt the specially coated blue Moonphase indication. The contrast is arresting, and it pops just right under different light and angles. Moreover, blue hands accompany the harmony just right. The guilloché is done with a CNC machine.
The beating heart of the 1815 Moonphase reference 212.050 is the caliber L943.2 which is mechanically identical to its predecessor Emil Lange’s. The mechanism offers 45 hours of power reserve, beats at 3Hz and carries a Moonphase mechanism that is accurate to 1000 years. However, the difference lies in a more flamboyant finish.
Caliber L943.2’s The three-quarter plate is adorned with radial finish rather than the usual stripes, which is in complete harmony with the more striking guilloché and the blue coating on the front. The engraving and the frosting on the movement reminds us A. Lange & Söhne’s pocket watches from the 19th century – a great nod to Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s own watches. The rest is as usual – stunning with chatons, blued screws and hand-engraving.
When introduced in 2010, the price for the reference 212.050 was a rather reasonable $24,5k. In time, with the help of the growing popularity of Emil Lange pieces, 1815 Moonphase started to appreciate in value, too. As of 2021, the piece commonly trades around $35 – 40k; and in my opinion, very much deserves that.
As always, thank you for your time and support.
I hope this was a valuable guide for whomever is looking for an 1815 Moonphase model or just want to learn the details and history of these pieces. If you’d like to chat, sell or buy an 1815 Moonphase, please kindly reach out to me via [email protected]
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