Zeitwerk Minute Repeater

A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Minute Repeater

A Technical Look – Updated Feb. 2023

From its foundation in 1845 by Ferdinand Adolph Lange, till the 20th century, Glashütte Watch Industry produced and innovated upon a vast array of complications and parts from chronograph to dead-beat seconds to escapement systems; except one: Sonnerie and Minute Repeater systems. Including the famous Grand Complication Nr.42500 calibre from 1902, Lange as well as other brands from the region supplied highly complicated movements from Vallée de Joux, Le Sentier or Le Brassus who already had decades of experience and proven track record to craft the best repeaters, ever.


Fast forward 168 years, A. Lange & Söhne became the first company from Glashütte to craft an in-house grand and petite sonnerie wristwatch. Albeit a replica of the aforementioned pocket watch, it was a tremendous learning for the brand and a signal for what was actually coming. In 2015, A. Lange & Söhne unveiled the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater – an exceptional combination of the highest order of the watchmaking craft with one of the most ingenious creations of the modern era.

A Lange & Söhne grand complication pocket watch

A Grand Complication A. Lange & Söhne pocket watch from 1902. Courtesy of Christie’s

Before I go on to the watch, I would like to express why I deem it to be a watch to talk about and why it is important other than the watch being the first serially produced minute repeater of the region; hence, Lange.


A. Lange & Söhne is a young manufacturé. When the brand was re-born in 1990, it received great help from its sister companies, IWC and JLC as well as Renaud & Papi on design, movement design and human resources to bring the know-how. Founded with such entrepreneurial spirit, it was only a couple years after when they unveiled the legendary Datograph in 1999. But, they did not leave it as it is and they kept improving its movement with minor tweaks. Constructing upon the learnings from L951.1, they built the Double Split in 2004, an unprecedented marvel.


What is important here; we are witnessing a manufacturé’s constant improvement while differentiating themselves in a better way with the goal of creating its own legacy. Set on this; Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is another spot-on example on how the brand keeps learning, trying to do what is undone before and builds its own history and I respect this.


The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is the world’s first minute repeater with jumping hours / minutes numerals. When I asked Tony De Haas on, why haven’t you make a classical minute repeater in an 1815 version the reply I got was the very summary of Lange; everybody has been doing that, why would we?. Indeed it is true, minute repeaters with classic hands and sliders are around for more than a century; so this, a fresh take on the highest echelon of complications is nothing short of remarkable.


The model measures 44.2 mm in diameter and 14.1 mm in thickness. It is a hefty and sometimes uncomfortable watch on the wrist- but, houses quite a magnificence to atone its lack of contentment. The case structure as well as finish is the same with the Zeitwerk Striking Time – only difference being the repeater pusher at 10 o’clock. As opposed to Zeitwerk Striking Time models, gongs are placed alongside the German silver time bridge, thus the black polished hammers face inwards.

A Lange Söhne "Zeitwerk Minute Repeater" blue

The new, 30 limited Zeitwerk Minute Repeater in white gold with the ever popular blue dial. Courtesy of Lange Uhren GmbH

The mantra of the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is; you hear what you see. To make it concrete; for example the time is 7:52 and we read it as seven-fifty-two. In a regular minute repeater, we would hear seven strikes for hours, three double strikes for three quarters, and additional seven strikes. Zeitwerk Minute Repeater however, is a decimal minute repeater. When activated, it strikes seven for hours, five double strikes 10 minutes, then two to complete- hence gives a much better and easier perceivable voice to time.

The Repeater Mechanism

The repeater mechanism sings you the time. In order for it to sing it to you, first it needs to read the time. In Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, each disc is coupled with its respective snail. The job of the snails is to mechanically encode the time. Connected to snails, the racks read through the code and transfer it to hammers. Now, let’s take a look at the parts. Please note that the following information is from A. Lange & Söhne’s fantastic supplement for the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, with a few commentary in between.

First, let’s understand how a conventional repeater works.


In conventional repeaters, the striking mechanism operates as a separate part of the movement. If you’d remember the repeater pocket watches, you can recall the separate mainspring and gear train to operate the repeater. The spring is tensioned with a slide, which upon release triggers the repeating sequence. The striking mechanism reads the time via three stepped snails for the hours, quarter hours and minutes. The minute and the quarter snails are attached to the cannon pinion, and rotate about their axes once an hour. The quarter snail counts, and the 14-step minute snail arms count the intervening minutes. The twelve stepped hour snail is connected to a separate arbor. The watchmaker needs to be extremely precise on adjusting the tolerances between these elements, where the time is going to be sampled and then transferred to the hammers.

Zeitwerk Minute Repeater Mechanism

Courtesy of Lange Uhren GmbH

In the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, the hours are sampled directly by the hour ring. The ones and tens minute snails are attached to two separate arbors. The nine steps of the minute snail and the five step of the tens minute snail are uniformly distributed. Thus the strike time always corresponds to the displayed time.


The striking mechanism is powered by the mainspring. When the repeating is activated by the pusher, the ratchet wheel decouples from the winding train. This allows the ratchet wheel to drive the striking mechanism, without wasting energy for the winding train during the repeater sequence.

A Lange Söhne "Zeitwerk Minute Repeater" mechanism

Courtesy of Lange Uhren GmbH

Zeitwerk Minute Repeater further distinguishes itself with intricate safety mechanisms to protect the watch from non-caressing hands. During the repeating sequence, jumping mechanism is deactivated. Further, the crown also disengages. Thus during the repeating sequence, the watch cannot be operated manually, which protects the delicate repeating system.


The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater also blocks the repeating mechanism when the power reserve goes below the red dot marker. This is to make sure that the mainspring always have the needed energy to complete the full sequence, as well as the jump if needed.  One can say that the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is one of the safest grand complications ever devised.

Zeitwerk Minute Repeater L043.5 mechanism

The balance (left), the remontoire (middle with blue spring) and a part of the repeater governor (right) of L043.5. Courtesy of Lange Uhren GmbH

The caliber L043.5 of the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is made of 771 individual components, beats at a traditional 2.5Hz and boasts 36 hours of power reserve.


To my knowledge, there are two specially trained watchmakers in the Zeitwerk Department who assemble the Minute Repeaters. One of them is a great musician and has an amazing ear. Since the adjustment of the repeater mechanism is extremely important and demanding; perhaps he was chosen just because of this – next to his exceptional watchmaking talent. The assembly of a Zeitwerk Minute Repeater takes over a month and they are in charge of the whole process – from start to finish, not that common today!


Ironically, Zeitwerk Minute Repeater does all these exceptional things; albeit it lacks a lot in the area that it was intended to be in the first place. Unfortunately, the watch suffers from the sound and chiming sequence perspectives. Moreover, there are unexpected and uneven pauses between notes. Indeed, the watch is utterly exceptional; but there is room for improvement. Lange constantly emphasizes perfection; sadly, the sound of the repeater is a bit afar from it.

Concluding Thoughts

When introduced in 2015, as the brand’s first serially produced minute repeater, the reference 147.025 came with a hefty price tag of $467,000 USD. On one point, how can you argue, simply because there’s nothing like it in the whole watchmaking scape. Alas, despite all its magnificence, at retail, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater could not attract the clientele it desired, and few started to surface in the pre-owned market.

Zeitwerk Minute Repeater Blue

Courtesy of Lange Uhren GmbH

When introduced in 2015, as the brand’s first serially produced minute repeater, the reference 147.025 came with a hefty price tag of $467,000 USD. On one point, how can you argue, simply because there’s nothing like it in the whole watchmaking scape. Alas, despite all its magnificence, at retail, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater could not attract the clientele it desired, and few started to surface in the pre-owned market.


Lange’s high-end has almost (with few early examples, or special pieces such as Handwerkskunst or Lumen) always suffered. Yet, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is on another level. As of February 2023, this marvel of watchmaking can be had just around $300,000 USD – that is 1/3 less than its retail price.


Perhaps to blow the fading fire of the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater or to use the left over movements, Lange introduced a second edition in white gold case with blue dial in 2021 as a limited edition of 30 pieces. So far, none has surfaced, yet I’d suspect that it is going to share a more or less similar faith.


All said, I think the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is an absolute catch in the pre-owned market. It stands alone in the ocean of watchmaking with its ingenious concept and execution. It is something that you’d expect from an extremely adventurous independent brand, and that says a lot about this marvel.


Thank you.

I hope this was a valuable guide for whomever is looking for a Zeitwerk Minute Repeater or just want to learn the details and history of these pieces. If you’d like to chat, sell or buy a Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, please kindly reach out to me via [email protected]


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