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Keeping watch of time
THE Zeitwerk was to be the new face of A Lange & Sohne when it was unveiled in 2009. Eight years later, it looks like the Zeitwerk is more the brand's chiming model.
The new Zeitwerk Decimal Strike is Lange's latest and third model in six years. And it comes with an acoustic time indication in a limited edition of 100 in a honey gold case - Lange's exclusive metal reserved for its key releases.
The Zeitwerk is Lange's first mechanical watch with a digital display format. The hours and minutes on the watch are indicated by jumping numerals - Zeitwerk's defining feature - which require lots of energy to execute.
But the mechanisms Lange built into the timepiece, which has a large 44mm case, provides more than sufficient energy to do the work. Lange soon realised the Zeitwerk's "mechanical design concept offers ideal prerequisites for the integration of a striking train".
Lange describes how the realisation came about when it introduced the Zeitwerk Striking Time in 2011, just two years after the Zeitwerk was launched. "When the numeral discs are advanced, a sizeable force vector is unleashed, so after the switching cycle, enough energy remains for other purposes. The reserves are now used by the chiming mechanism to tension the springs that actuate the two hammers."
The Zeitwerk Striking Time, released in white gold and a limited edition 100 watches in platinum, is the world's first mechanical wristwatch with a jumping numerals display and a visible chiming mechanism. The full hour is indicated with a reverberant low-pitched tone, each quarter-hour with a clear high-pitched tone.
Four years later came the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater, the first time that a mechanical watch brings together a jumping hour display with a decimal minute repeater. The acoustic time indication consists of a low-pitched tone for each elapsed hour, a double tone for each elapsed 10-minute period and a high-pitched tone for each elapsed minute. Thus, the time sounded corresponds exactly to the time as displayed.
Available only in platinum, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater features an elaborate pusher system instead of the usual slide. The watch also has a safety feature: The crown can't be pulled while the striking mechanism is active. Otherwise, a considerable amount of energy is wasted and the numeral is delayed till the chiming sequence ends. With the safety feature, the acoustic time indication is always in sync with the time displayed.
One other thing is the red mark on the power reserve indicator. If it appears, the striking mechanism can't be activated because the remaining power reserve is less that 12 hours. The underlying power reserve is 36 hours.
The Zeitwerk Decimal Strike, released this year, sounds the time as it appears on the digital display - in hours and 10-minute intervals. This is unlike classical chiming timepieces, which emulate analogue watches by striking hours and quarter-hours.
Two differently tuned gongs in the watch indicate the full hours as well as the 10-minute intervals between one hour and the next. The two hammers, visible on the dial side, are polished steel and, like the hammer bridge, decorated with a tremblage engraving.
The hammer on the left strikes the low-pitched gong once every hour. The right-hand hammer sounds a higher-pitched tone every 10 minutes - every time a new 10-minute interval begins.
The striking mechanism can be turned off by pressing the button at 4 o'clock. It also happens when the crown is pulled to set the time.