Story of a german miracle

The A. Lange & Söhne adventure started in 1845, in Glasshütte, with Ferdinand Adolf Lange at the helm. However, nothing seemed to indicate that this son of a gunsmith, born in 1815 in Dresden and sent to a foster family at an early age, would create his own horology manufacture.

But the said foster family sent him for an apprenticeship to Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes – a famous clockmaker of the time. In the course of his training, he went to Polytechnique school and learnt French as well as English by himself. Thus, in 1837, he left his home for Paris and was hired by the famous stopwatch maker Josef Thaddäus Winnerl. In 1841, he went to Switzerland and England to polish his knowledge and experience. During that time, he filled up his famous notebook with complicated  calculations, movement sketches... Following the end of this training, he came back to Germany and was hired by Gutkaes. He married his daughter in 1842 and became co-owner of his stepfather’s company.

Ferdinand A. Lange, a talented clockmaker with sound human values, was touched by how poor his regions was. Therefore, as early as 1843, he negotiated a loan with the then royal Saxon minister to build a watch manufacture in Glashütte and to train 15 young people to become watchmakers. Consequently, the “'industrie de haute horlogerie saxonne” was founded in 1845. In 1868, it would become A. Lange & Söhne when Ferdinand Adolf Lange made his son, Richard, an associate.

When Ferdinand Adolf Lange died in 1875, Glasshütte’s area became prosperous, especially thanks to the A. Lange & Söhne manufacture, crowned with multiple achievements and awards. Indeed, A. Lange & Söhne created a host of innovations which transformed the watchmaking industry. Thus, watches made by the brand became some of the most sought after in Europe.

But the First World War brought this prosperous period to an end and the brand just made it through thanks to its stopwatch products manufactured for the navy. However, the manufacture was destroyed in the course of the Second World War and its owners were expropriated by the new communist regime. Walter Lange, great grandson of Ferdinand Adolf Lange, had to flee to Western Germany to escape forced labour.

Following the German reunification in 1990, Walter Lange came back to Glasshütte where – helped by the IWC director Günter Blümlein – he founded the Lange Uhren GmbH company on December 7th. This marked the 145th anniversary of the arrival of his great grandfather in Glasshütte. After this rebirth, the first watch created by the manufacture finally came out in 1994. During that year, only 165 watches were produced in the workshops of the new manufacture.

Then, Walter Lange joined the “Les Manufactures Horlogères” group – bought by Richemont in 2000. A. Lange & Söhne may be the smallest manufacture of the group, but the horology masterpieces it produces (entirely made in its workshops), put it amongst the most prestigious watchmaking companies of our time.