Richard Lange Terraluna in pink gold, with its marvelous back. Credit to Lange Uhren GMBH
Richard Lange "Terraluna"
The study of celestial objects goes back to thousands of years and has always been one of the most important parts of the civilization. At first, the observations would be made with the naked eye, which later led the way to some artifacts to determine the time, the seasons to see when to crop the plants, etc..
In time, from Babylonians to ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, etc. civilizations, astronomy was developed. From the geocentric model where the earth was believed to be the center of the universe, to this day where we can look into billions of light years away and the subject keeps its intrigue almost as the curiosity of the first humans who gazed to the sky. Such curiosity led us to invent exceptional devices from the ancient Antikythera to James Webb. As intertwined the disciplines are, the watchmaking, or precision instruments I shall say, took a great interest in the subject.
Richard Lange Terraluna symbolizes the peak of A. Lange & Söhne’s interest to bring the sky onto the wrist (?), as precise and intriguing as possible.
Case as a Table Clock
Introduced in 2014, we can say that the Richard Lange Terraluna is one of the product of A. Lange & Söhne’s manifest on its complications decade, which was discussed extensively on A. Lange Story Episode 7 made in collaboration with WatchBox. As a highly complicated gem, the piece measures a whopping 45.5 x 16.5 mm – thus it is rather unfeasible as a wristwatch for a large percentage of watch enthusiasts, but tables are free, right?
The case is made in classic A. Lange & Söhne fashion, but this time with four-steps (instead of usual three) to accommodate the complex perpetual calendar mechanism and a protruding case back to house the depth of the movement. The lugs are short, and extensively curved to secure the watch on the wrist, as much as possible…
To match its complexity, the case is full of control buttons, accompanying the giant crown to wind the double barrels that provide 14 days of power reserve. The most important button for the perpetual calendar is placed at 9 o’clock, a recessed pusher to advance all the calendar indications simultaneously. A delightful innovation we’re accustomed from Lange since 2001 with Langematik Perpetual. The pusher at 2 o’clock however is there to decouple the time you see on the dial, from the world-timer indication on the back so you can adjust it individually, for example when crossing a time zone.
On the wrist, due to thick protruding case back, and the short & curved profile of the lugs, the watch sits rather right, but you must strap it hard and bury deep into your wrist to prevent any wobbling. I’d say it wears like a 14 mm when strapped tightly.
Dial from 1807
The Richard Lange collection is based on two pillars: To carry Richard Lange’s technical genius into modernity, and to offer it in the most legible way possible. When the first piece of the collection was introduced in 2006, we saw this clearly with the long central seconds hand, a clean dial inspired from the pocket watches of the brand, and an in-house balance system to honor Richard Lange’s patent in 1932 that led the way to Nivarox.
Starting then, the Richard Lange family housed some of the most eccentric pieces of A. Lange & Söhne. For example, the ReferenzUhr in 2007, Richard Lange Tourbillon Pour le Mérite in 2011, and in 2014, the Richard Lange Terraluna.
The dial’s inspiration comes from 1807, from a pocket watch Seyffert made, a court watchmaker and astronomer. This pocket watch, documented in Reinhard Meis’ brilliant books, laid the foundation of the complicated Richard Lange family pieces with its regulator, venn-diagram display.
207 years apart
The biggest sub-dial on the top showcases minutes, whereas the bottom two are the hacking-seconds (left) and hours. It is confusing somehow, as why the biggest sub-dial is reserved for minutes and not hours, or even seconds, though I think it has something to do with the fantastic engineering on the back, which we’ll get shortly.
On the top, we have the groß-datum of A. Lange & söhne. Following, adhering to the legibility mantra of the family, we have the day aperture at 8 and the month at 4 with leap year at 2 o’clock. The power-reserve indication is placed at the bottom of the dial, showcasing how many days left. Yes, you read that right, it is written “14” on the power reserve indication, as the huge double barrel of this mechanical marvel provides fourteen days running. Though I must warn you it takes quite a turn.
Richard Lange Terraluna in white gold. Differentiated with its blue hands.
Marvelous Caliber L096.1
As intriguing as its dial side, this gem puts it on a full show when you turn it over and there greets you the caliber L096.1. The movement code tells us that the development started in 2009, it is the sixth caliber of the year, and its first variant.
Marvelous caliber L096.1. Source Lange Uhren GMBH
The caliber L096.1 boasts 14 days of power reserve, a constant-force mechanism throughout its supply, instantaneous perpetual calendar mechanism, a hacking-seconds mechanism and A. Lange & Söhne’s first celestial complication, which is geniusly executed. Indeed, it justifies the thickness it brings! Among all, the orbital Moon-phase indication requires an in-depth explanation.
First, we must take the balance wheel as the sun. The orbital Moon-phase indication showcases the relative position of the Moon in relation to the earth and the sun. The fantastically detailed indication is made of three overlapping solid gold discs. In the middle, the earth is seen from the North-pole and rotates anti-clockwise in 24 hours periods. The large celestial disc around the earth, laser-etched with 2,160 stars indicates the Moonphases, and its position in relation to the earth. The full rotation is completed in 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 9.6 seconds; thus, as opposed to much simpler Moonphase indications, Richard Lange Terraluna is accurate to a day for 1,058 years. On the most-outer circle, we see the 24 hours scale, acting as a worldtimer, showcasing the time in the regions on the Northern Hemisphere.
Balance wheel as the sun, lighting up the Earth. The 24 hour scale is visible on the right. Source: Lange Uhren GMBH
Just an incredibly smart use of the space, and a brilliant conceptualization of such topic into a wristwatch.
Despite such complexity, the timekeeping is always at the paramount importance and to address this, A. Lange & Söhne devised a constant-force mechanism that would supply a uniform torque over the span of 2 weeks. In most watch movements, the mainspring is directly connected to the escapement. In return this causes irregularity in torque; because when the watch is fully wound, the torque is higher, and closing to zero, it is lower, hence affecting the accuracy.
According to A. Lange & Söhne:
The constant-force escapement or remontoir is a mechanism installed between the gear train driven by the twin mainspring barrel and the escapement. The device includes a remontoir spring which is mounted at its inner end on the fourth-wheel arbor and pretensioned with an x amount of energy. Every ten seconds, this pretensioned remontoir spring is retensioned by the energy from the mainspring barrel and then finally charged with an amount of energy of x + y. Within the next ten seconds, the remontoir spring discharges and provides a constant delivery of the same amount of energy y as torque to the escapement. This results in a sawtooth discharge curve at ten-second intervals, which, on average, remains constant.
The architecture and the craft supporting engineering is exceptional. On the constant force bridge, we see five inward angles, skeletonized to show the pivoting lever and the remontoire spring. The blued screws harmony with the gold chatons is delightful as usual, and further accentuates the color brought by the orbital Moonphase. The flat-polished escape wheel cap is ever present next to the hand-engraved balance cock and the swan’s neck regulator on top.
The caliber L096.1 is made of 787 individual parts, carries 80 jewels, and beats at a traditional 3Hz.
Buying / Selling Richard Lange Terraluna
I think we can all agree that the Richard Lange Terraluna is an exceptional piece of watchmaking, accomplishing every aspect of the craft we enjoy from engineering to creativity to hand work. It is modern, novel and something that one cannot find almost in any other manufacture’s portfolio. Its creativity truly deserves an applause.
On the other hand, such cocktail comes with a price and that is $247k as of 2022. The price is unfortunately not only monetary, but also its wearability. At 45.5 x 16.5 mm size, Terraluna is unsuitable for the most, and that surely hurts its market size tremendously. On top, A. Lange & Söhne did not announce a limitation on such an exquisite piece. Thinking that I saw one in almost every sales point, or boutique I set my foot from 2016 to 2020s, I think the production number is considerable for a piece like this one.
Since its introduction, the auction prices for the Terraluna has been around $110k, with a few outliers. Therefore, if you’re a fan of engineering and unique approaches in watchmaking, in the secondary market, the Richard Lange Terraluna is rather hard to beat!
I hope this was a valuable guide for whomever is looking for a Richard Lange Terraluna or just want to learn the details and history of these pieces. If you’d like to chat, sell or buy a Terraluna, please kindly reach out to me via [email protected]
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