Whether you’d describe yourself as a fan of German watchmaking or not, if you’re even hallway horologically minded you’ll likely have heard of A. Lange & Söhne. And if you have, you may wonder, are A Lange & Söhne watches a good investment?
There aren’t many brands over which I get all giddy, but Lange (as its aficionados often dub it) is probably top of the tree for me, and every single element of their output is something worth talking about.
But admitted favoritism aside, is this high-end, exclusively precious-metaled Richemont-owned brand actually worth the stratospheric amounts the watches command?
In a word, yes.
A True Powerhouse
A. Lange & Söhne is the brainchild of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, a man many would rightly regard as the father of German watchmaking. The company is based in Glashütte, and once more occupies the original building, which had stood dormant during the years of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
Glashütte is a funny little town of winding streets and near-silent hillsides. It is perhaps an ideal cradle of craftsmanship, with little to distract the mind from the ticking task at hand.
When Lange first arrived in the town at the behest of the king of Saxony he inherited a population of unemployed silver miners – victims of their own efficiency. He trained them in the cottage industry of watchmaking before breaking away from the school he helped found, to start his own eponymous company.
Lange quickly established a reputation as one of the best watchmakers on the planet, but for most of the 20th century the name was forgotten, thanks to the separation of East and West Germany. Glashütte existed behind the wall, its reputation and the skills of her people dwindling as the weight of the Russian regime took its toll.
Continuity is key
But a new dawn lay in wait. In 1991, Walter Lange, the direct descendent of Ferdinand Adolph, returned to Glashütte and resurrected the brand. It is this moment in the brand’s history that, despite Richemont’s acquisition some years later, creates a legacy that will endure.
The GDR screwed with a lot of history. None of the brands in Glashütte can claim to be continuously operational in the way Vacheron Constantin or Patek Philippe can, and so they occupy a different chapter of the past. But the presence of actual Lange family members bookending the dark times of Soviet occupation gives this brand a sense of solidity, of robustness, of destiny.
Beyond the more bankable heritage that Lange can boast in the faces of its somewhat faceless German peers, the products are simply superb. Excellent examples of classic German watchmaking, the gold and platinum cases add an intrinsic value that doesn’t easily go out of style making A. Lange & Söhne watches a good investment. Although Lange watches appear bulky in photo-shoots, the diameters are surprisingly restrained, and the watches wear very comfortably on most wrists, ensuring that they will never be too far from the trends of the day, whether we find ourselves in another macro- or micro-era.
A fine German watch is a nice way to diversify your collection, and something worth considering even if you’ve never looked beyond Switzerland for your investments. They do things the right way in Glashütte; they build things to last making A. Lange & Söhne watches a good investment. Besides, the Germans know a thing or two about engineering after all. I mean, you wouldn’t drive a Swiss car, would you?
About the Author: Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.
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