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A. Lange & Söhne - Grand Complication, Live Report

We had the pleasure to be present at the European presentation of the Grand Complication, the most complicated wristwatch ever produced by A. Lange & Söhne. The event, held in Milan on October 16, was part of a road show that will include presentations in Tokyo and New York as well.

We first talked about the Grand Complication here, when it was introduced during the Salon International de l'Haute Horlogerie in Geneva last January. But yesterday we finally had the possibility to hear its sound and wear the fully working prototype (0/6) on our wrist. It was exciting.

The Grand Complication brings together seven of the most elaborate and rare complications of the horological art: chiming mechanism with grand and small strike, minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph with minute counter and flying seconds (seconde foudroyante) as well as a perpetual calendar with moon-phase display.

Lange's Director of Product Development, Anthony de Haas, was there to present the Grand Complication and disclose some "secrets" about it. As he said, this project opens a new era for Lange as it "has opened the gate to many new ideas and designs".

So many complications together require an almost perfect balance of the many hundred components of the mechanism. As de Haas explains, one of the biggest challenge during the development of the Grand Complication was to avoid any loss of amplitude when at midnight all indications of the perpetual calendar are switching and the grande sonnerie is striking simultaneously. Lange succeeded in this challenge making it even possible for the owner of the timepiece to operate the rattrapante mechanism at the same time.

At 12 o'clock the lever for activating/deactivating the chiming mechanism 
The assembly and fine-tuning of the 876 part will take about a year to complete. The most demanding test procedures are adopted to ensure the highest quality. For example, the chiming mechanism is monitored and recorded day and night, then  evaluated to check whether the mechanism has been chiming correctly every single quarter. If not, it has to be dismantled, adjusted, assembled and checked again until the result is flawless.

The hand-wound manufacture Calibre L1902

Despite of its exclusive price - almost two million Euros - Anthony de Haas mentioned that "the number of serious collectors interested in the watch is higher than the supply. But it has not been decided yet which of the potential buyers will eventually receive one". A. Lange & Söhne cannot produce more Grand Complications as it would tie up capacities needed for other new projects.

Below you find some live pictures, including one on the wrist, taken during the event.
Between 7 and 8 o'clock, the slide for actuating the minute repeater
 The beautifully enamelled dial
At 6 o'clock, the lever for selecting Grande or Petite Sonnerie and the correction push piece for the calendar
Thickness is 20.3 mm 

The 50 mm case might appear quite large but you need to keep in mind that this is a collector piece, not an ordinary every-day wristwatch. It would not be possible to further reduce its size, considering all the complications brought together in a single piece, without impacting reliability.

The Grand Complication, another demonstration of mastery in the horological art from A. Lange & Söhne.

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