The Lange 1 Time Zone is one of the most quintessential timepieces from modern-day A. Lange & Söhne. It is the only Lange 1 watch that is travel-themed, and the most specialised travel watch that the brand offers. Since its debut in 2005 – about ten years after the brand’s renaissance – numerous variations of the model have been added, including a Honey Gold variant and a 25th anniversary special edition. It wasn’t until 2020 that the Lange 1 Time Zone was given a timely update. While the core design of the watch was retained, other bits were streamlined. Importantly, the movement has been refreshed and given a functional upgrade in the form of a daylight savings indicator.
A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Time Zone in Platinum
When the new Lange 1 Time Zone was first announced, three variations were made available: pink gold, white gold, and yellow gold (limited edition, boutique-only). The obvious omission was a platinum edition, an omission that’s finally been addressed this month with the release of the Lange 1 Time Zone in platinum. Here, we bring you the details and our honest opinion of the watch, dressed in the noblest of precious metals.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ – this is the mantra that the good folks at A. Lange & Söhne live by. One of the most unchanging aspects of the Lange 1 Time Zone has to be the case. Measuring 41.9 mm x 10.9 mm, the case size of the watch has remained a constant since its introduction almost two decades ago. The design and finish of the platinum case is standard contemporary Lange: simple, robust, with a polished bezel and brushed case band. There are two pushers on the left flank of the case, one at 10 o’clock to correct the outsize date display, one at 8 o’clock to advance the city ring by one time zone eastward and the hour hand in the small sub-dial by one hour.
Much like its predecessor, the new Lange 1 Time Zone in platinum features a rhodium-coloured dial that closely matches the hue of the case. Combined with rhodium-plated appliques and hands, you get an almost monochrome situation here. The term ‘stealth-wealth’ comes to mind as the watch looks understated yet immensely classy. Dial colour aside, everything else remains unchanged. You still have the iconic city ring that has led so many to (wrongly) believe that the Time Zone is a world timer. The Time Zone is more accurately described as a travel time – or even a dual time – watch. The smaller sub-dial at 4 o’clock position displays the second time zone, with an arrowhead pointing to the reference city. There is even a slit carved into the pointer that will indicate if daylight savings time (DST) is observed in the city. If it’s red, DST is observed and you’ll have to add an hour to the displayed time during summer; if it’s white, DST is not observed and standard time applies. This discreetly integrated function was not available in the old Lange 1 Time Zone and is a welcomed addition to the current edition. To distinguish between night and day, day/night indicators in the form of a rotating disc are in the centre of each sub-dial. When the hour hand is hovering over the unmarked area, daytime (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) is indicated. Conversely, when the hour hand advances into the blue-marked zone, nighttime (6 p.m. to 6 a.m.) is indicated.
Driving the Lange 1 Time Zone is the 448-part, 38-jewel manufacture Calibre L141.1. Much like the Calibre L031.1 for the old Time Zone, the Calibre L141.1 beats at a stately 3 Hz frequency and has a power reserve of 72 hours that’s indicated by a power reserve display on the dial. The three-day autonomy of the Calibre L141.1, however, is powered off of just one mainspring barrel, as opposed to two in its predecessor. This technical upgrade is further reflected by the removal of the ‘DOPPELFEDERHAUS’ script on the dial of the current model that is present in the old model.
As is true for all contemporary Lange movements, the Calibre L141.1 is finished and decorated to an exceptional level. The untreated German silver three-quarter plate features a host of decorative hallmarks such as screwed gold chatons, heat-blued screws, and Glashütte ribbing. But unlike the majority of Lange movements, this one has not one, but two hand-engraved cocks – one for the balance, and another for the intermediate wheel. Such meticulous finissage is made possible only because of Lange’s double assembly policy where every movement is assembled, disassembled and re-assembled.
The Competitive Landscape
Travel-time watches in general are a dime a dozen today. Ones that are as intuitive to use and as spectacularly crafted as the Lange 1 Time Zone are much rarer. It is quite atypical for a non-world timer to fully display the city names that represent each of the 24 time zones. On the Lange 1 Time Zone, it’s become a signature, bringing design sophistication, intuitiveness and a bit of confusion from those that aren’t familiar with the watch (no, it’s not a world timer). The new platinum version of the Lange 1 Time Zone is by far the ‘coldest’, most understated and most elegant iteration of the model. It enters the permanent collection of A. Lange & Söhne, meaning it’s not a limited edition piece. Price is only available upon request.
Perhaps the most approximate alternative to the Lange 1 Time Zone that is available in the market currently is the Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite, coincidentally also from the very same watchmaking village in Saxony. And just like the Lange 1 Time Zone, the Senator Cosmopolite comes with a date display, second time zone display, power reserve display, and a day/night indicator. A key difference in which the time zone function in the Senator Cosmopolite is designed is that it takes into account an impressive 35 time zones, including the 24 time zones that deviate Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT) by full hours, eight time zones that deviate GMT by half hours, and the rest that deviate GMT by 3/4 hours. It bears mentioning that the Senator Cosmopolite is a fair bit larger at 44 x 14 mm. While well-finished, it is the Lange that is more extensively decorated. All that said, at around EUR20,000 for the stainless steel variant, the Senator Cosmopolite represents bang for buck and should be seriously considered by anyone in the market for a travel-time watch.
If you insist on a city ring (because it just looks cool), it may be easier to search for a watch with world time function. The Chopard L.U.C Time Traveler One is perfect in this case as it also comes with a date display like the Lange 1 Time Zone. At 42.00 x 12.09 mm, the Chopard is similar in size to the Lange. The particular example in the photograph below is crafted in ceramized titanium, making it far lighter than the platinum Lange 1 Time Zone. The Time Traveler One is also self-winding and beats at a higher 4 Hz frequency. Much like the Senator Cosmopolite, the Time Traveler One is outdone by the Lange 1 Time Zone in the finishing department. But at a price of around USD15,500 for the titanium model, there can be no complaints.
Since its inception, the Lange 1 Time Zone has become the gold standard for haute horlogerie travel-time watches. The watch is designed to be elegant yet at the same time has just enough going on to satiate the inner watch geek in us. Be it past or present, the platinum is by far the most sober iteration of Lange 1 Time Zone variants. Immensely charming, practical and versatile, it is no surprise that the Lange 1 Time Zone continues to be one of the most popular Lange 1 models in production.