Day 2 started on a sombre note. As I was walking into the fair for my first appointment of the day, another journalist tells me Walter Lange, aged 92, has passed on. He saw his family’s watchmaking business being destroyed during the Second World War and resurrected the brand -- A. Lange & Söhne -- in the 90s, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Without Lange, we wouldn’t have the Lange 1 or the Datograph which are often considered icons of modern horology. However, it’s the resurrection of A. Lange & Söhne that was Lange's most incredible act. The watch industry's survived two world wars and bounced back from the quartz crisis. Lange's perseverence and tenacity both lent to this ethos and drew from it. A. Lange & Söhne continues to create unique creations to behold in 2017, because in true Walter Lange fashion, the show must go on.
A. Lange & Söhne Turbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite”
Although not the most accessible of pieces from Lange this year, this piece is a good representation of A. Lange & Söhne's watchmaking art. Yes, this thing is chunky but for a damn good reason. It offers five complications which include a fusée-and-chain transmission (the chain itself consists of 636 parts), a tourbillon, a chronograph with ratrapante function and, on top of that (quite literally) a perpetual calendar. It might be hard to see from this picture, but the tourbillon at the 6 o’clock sits a little deeper in the case due to the additional thickness added on by the perpetual calendar mechanism. Hence, the tourbillon bridge is curved to accommodate this. Through great effort, the craftsmen have also managed to apply their traditional black polish, for the first time, on a curved surface.
Ulysse Nardin Classico Manufacture Enamel
Ulysse Nardin novelties are unsually unveiled in March during Baselworld. This year marks the company's SIHH debut. And what a show they put on. There's a reggata watch that offers a countdown function where the second hand actually goes anti-clockwise until the timer is up, and then goes clockwise when the chronograph starts. But since we don’t have many Regatta fans in this part of town, we’ll skip that. Then there's the InnoVision II, the second concept watch from the brand to pack in 10 brilliant watchmaking innovations that will eventually trickle down to the regular collection (a story for later). For now, here’s a really cool Classico that offers an incredible translucent blue grand feu enamel dial with a gilloche plate underneath.
Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of itsd best-selling Altiplano, Piaget offered up this vintage-inspired beauty. Although I say vintage-inspired, the Altiplano really is a timeless watch. To demonstrate this, Piaget brought out the first Altiplano ever made and, if not for its much smaller case size, would fit right into the contemporary Altiplano collection. The 60th anniversary issue reprises the very brilliant crosshairs on the dial in a 43mm white gold case, as seen above. The 43mm was a tad too big for my wrist, but its smaller sibling in 38mm really hits the spot for an elegant watch.