“We strive for watchmaking beauty and technical perfection.” This quote by Günter Blümlein, former executive director of Lange Uhren GmbH, sums up the brand values of A. Lange & Söhne. The German watchmaker is known around the world for its exclusive, high-quality wristwatches that are on par with the likes of Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. A. Lange & Söhne timepieces feature complications like perpetual calendars, minute repeaters, and rattrapante chronographs. Their luxurious classic designs offer decentralized hands and mechanical digital displays.
A. Lange & Söhne timepieces are produced in very limited numbers, which positively influences the price performance of popular models. One example is the first generation Lange 1 that we’re focusing on in this article. Our Lange 1 Buyer’s Guide will give you a general overview of the different models available and their prices.
The First A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 References
Lange & Söhne introduced the Lange 1 in 1994. Together with theSaxonia, Arkade, and Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite”, the Lange 1 was part of the first collection of this company that was founded in 1990 and then known as Lange Uhren GmbH.
The Lange 1 and its characteristic decentralized hands have become representative of the company’s watches over the years. A few of the line’s rarer timepieces, such as the first Lange 1 references from 1994, have noticeably increased in value.
The yellow gold Lange 1 references 101.001 and 101.002 were initially priced at 27,000 German marks, or roughly 16,500 USD. Today, they sell used for around 24,000 USD, which is a significant increase in value. On Chrono24, the last three years alone have seen the price for both of these references increase by nearly 3,000 USD.
Newer models that are also in demand, such as the yellow gold ref. 101.021, cost only slightly more than first-generation watches in never-worn condition. Pre-owned newer models generally sell for around 2,400 USD less. The ref. 101.021 has experienced some notable price fluctuations recently: It cost around 20,000 USD in September 2019 and then fell to 18,500 USD one year later before recovering to nearly 21,500 USD.
The platinum ref. 101.005 is another first-generation Lange 1 that has experienced impressive price appreciation. This timepiece initially sold for 39,000 German marks in 1994 (around 24,000 USD). After being priced at just over 26,000 USD for years, this platinum timepiece saw major jump in value at the end of 2020. Today, it sells used for about 59,500 USD.
The platinum Lange 1 ref. 191.025 from the brand’s current collection costs around 47,500 USD on Chrono24 in mint condition. Its price also increased by a few thousand dollars at the end of 2020.
The solid gold or platinum case backs of the first-generation Lange 1 are one of the most prominent features distinguishing these watches from newer references. The back is fixed to the 38.5-mm case by six screws. The manual-winding, meticulously designed in-house L901.0 caliber ticks away inside this timepiece, providing it with a power reserve of 72 hours. The current L121.1 caliber also offers a 72-hour power reserve, and can be admired through a sapphire crystal case back.
A Rare Sight: The Stainless Steel Lange 1
In the late 1990s, A. Lange & Söhne produced a very limited number of stainless steel Lange 1s. Although the watchmaker never disclosed the exact number, it’s estimated that there are less than 30 of these timepieces in existence. They are so rare, in fact, that they are known to sell at auction for 125,000 USD and above. In 2019, the most expensive stainless steel Lange 1 to date, in “new old stock” condition, sold at Phillips auction house for 343,750 USD. Interested in becoming one of the very few to own this rare Lange 1? Then be sure to keep an eye out for the ref. 101.026.
Precious Honey Gold
In late 2015, A. Lange & Söhne presented the 18-karat honey gold Lange 1 ref. 101.050. Limited to 20 pieces, it’s made of a proprietary alloy with a hue that falls between yellow and rose gold. Honey gold is also harder, making it more resistant to scratches and dings than conventional 18-karat alloys. Its screw-down, transparent case back lets you gaze upon the in-house caliber L901.0, the original movement that is also found in first-generation Lange 1s. Since 2015, A. Lange & Söhne have been using the caliber L121.1 in their standard models.
The caliber L901.0 in the honey gold reference 101.050 is hand-engraved with a unique frosted finish. Another one-of-a-kind touch is its intricate, granular dial, which sets in apart from the fine, matte appearance of most other Lange 1s.
The honey gold Lange 1 had an official list price of around 75,000 USD when it was first introduced by A. Lange & Söhne in 2015. A watch has since sold at Dr. Crott Auctioneers in 2019 for nearly 125,000 USD (104,000 euros).
If you’re in the market for a watch with stable performance, your search will likely take you to Rolex or Patek Philippe, but A. Lange & Söhne have quietly proven that they also offer well-performing timepieces. The success of their very rare, unique, first-generation Lange 1 watches offers further evidence that supply and demand determine price.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that not every Lange 1 makes a top investment. Current references can be purchased in new condition for a few thousand dollars below the official list price. Some models have also experienced jumps in price followed by sharp drops. Thus, not every Lange 1 is a guaranteed profit-maker. Rarity and demand are what ultimately determine price and performance. You can be certain, however, that every A. Lange & Söhne timepiece delivers the finest in watchmaking beauty and technical perfection. So, it may be worth putting investments aside and letting passion drive your next watch purchase.