Try Your Hand At Making A Masterpiece At The A. Lange & Söhne Connoisseur’s Akademie

Watch aficionados were given a treat recently when A. Lange & Söhne’s Connoisseur’s Akademie landed in Kuala Lumpur. The travelling watchmaking masterclass gave the timepiece’s ardent collectors, retailers and VIPs the opportunity to immerse themselves into the art and craft of watchmaking, led by Flying Watchmaker David Weber.

“There’s a reason why our timepieces cost what they do, and this is an opportunity for our customers to appreciate their Lange timepieces even more,” says Weber, a second-generation Lange watchmaker who grew up in Hong Kong when his father was a service watchmaker there. 

He emphasises the renowned Lange tradition of twofold or double assembly—meticulously assembling every timepiece twice regardless of its movement’s simplicity. First the timepiece is assembled for precision and accuracy of placement. Then, it is disassembled with every single part perfectly cleaned, decorated and polished before reassembling every component again.

“There are a number of reasons for this,” Weber says. “One is due to Ferdinand A. Lange’s pioneering three-quarter plate that enhances the movement’s precision by stabilising the entire wheel train beneath a single bridge. The flipside is that this makes assembly incredibly challenging, with several mounts and removals by the watchmaker to ensure each individual arbor gets the precise endshake.

“Another reason is that all plates and bridges at Lange are made from pure, untreated German silver, which makes it an incredibly sensitive material,” Weber continues. “Its surface is highly susceptible to touch and even a fingerprint will cause oxidisation.” 

This was put to the test at the A. Lange & Söhne Connoisseur’s Akademie pop-up, where journalists tried their hands at flat polishing gold chatons. Although the premise of this sounded easy, its execution proved no mean feat. 

First, the chatons had to be dismounted from the undecorated silver mainplate. Unscrewing the minute blue screws already proved a challenge despite being equipped with a loupe and the finest tweezer and screwdriver. The slightest turn and screws, mere specks, were already pinging off main plates, with several precious minutes locating them. In the case of yours truly, a mere smudge on the mainplate meant that the silver was already oxidising without anyone noticing until it was too late.

Polishing the gold chaton, too, took time and patience involving three polishing paper stages. The first tier was to polish off more visible scratches, while the final stage promised a mirror finish with a very light figure 8 movement—the operative word being ‘promised’. The results, even from the most accomplished of journalists, were far from the standards expected of master watchmakers at A. Lange & Söhne. 

 “There are definitely no shortcuts,” Weber says diplomatically while viewing our handiwork. “Good job,” he tells the best of us in the kindest of tones. “Now, you’ll have to disassemble and reassemble all over again!”

A. Lange & Sohne

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