A. Lange & Söhne - Rebirth of a Leader.
A. Lange & Söhne has a fascinating story.
For nearly a quarter of their 200-year history, they were nothing more than a fading memory as they didn't produce any watches. It's said their land was seized by the post-war Soviet Union administration. After the collapse of the Berlin wall, it inspired a third-generation Lange to resurrect the company.
This act ensured the legacy of his grand-fathers. Over time, A. Lange & Söhne took the watchmaking industry by storm with a series of watches that caught the attention of Richemont. The group managed to acquire the German watchmaker in a three-part deal involving Audemars Piguet group and Les Manufactures Horlogères SA (LMH).
Striving for the pinnacle of precision, the heart-warming story of A. Lange & Söhne has earned them a place in our luxury watchmaking series. Let's take a closer look at the person behind A. Lange & Söhne, the immensely talented Ferdinand Adolph Lange.
Ferdinand A. Lange - The Rising Star
Born into poverty, Ferdinand worked his way into Dresden Technical College. He chose to enrol as an apprentice for Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes, a watchmaker.
Ferdinand developed an unusual understanding of precision timekeeping which didn't go unnoticed by Gutkaes. He was able to nurture this potential and Ferdinand moved to Paris, the centre of watchmaking, in 1837.
He returned to Dresden after 4 years and reunited with Gutkaes who was tasked with making a clock for the Semper Opera House. The pair succeeded in making the famous 5-minute clock which still exists today!
Ferdinand was starting to experience great success but unfortunately, not everyone around him was. This reality was so profound, it encouraged him to start his own workshop.
Origins of A. Lange & Söhne
Ferdinand devised a business plan to bring prosperity to the residents living around the Ore Mountains. In 1845, he won funding from the council and made his plan real by hiring 15 apprentices from diverse backgrounds to teach them watchmaking.
His endeavour to bring prosperity to the residents of Ore Mountains reached new heights when their timepieces caught worldwide attention during an international trade show in London.
Trivia - Ferdinand's sons Richard and Emil Lange took over in 1873 and A. Lange & Söhne began.
WW2 and The Berlin Wall
The World Wars had greatly affected A. Lange & Söhne to the extent that they closed their doors. Why? Their land was nationalised and they were no longer able to operate.
This became a reality for 40 years. During those years, the whole landscape of Germany had changed. The Berlin Wall had literally divided the nation and played an important role in the history of A. Lange & Söhne.
Spanning 96 miles and lasting for 29 years, the Berlin wall separated East Germany from West Germany. After its collapse in 1989, a feeling of euphoria started to consume Germany with the belief that anything is possible.
A. Lange & Söhne Comeback
The effect of the wall being destroyed had encouraged Walter Lange to believe it was the perfect time to revive his great-grand father's company. The date he chose coincided with what would have been their 145th anniversary in 1990.
Despite starting from 0, A. Lange & Söhne were able to tap into watchmaking know-how to create their first watch in 1994.
By 2011, they had over 40 calibres and won over 150 awards for their precision which didn't go unnoticed as Richemont offered to buy them.
Richemont Purchase A. Lange & Söhne
Richemont saw the potential of A. Lange & Söhne and acquired them in 2000. However, it wasn't as simple as that because they were owned by different parties.
So, Richemont acquired Les Manufactures Horlogères SA (LMH) from Mannesmann AG.
LMH owned 60% of Jaeger-LeCoultre, 100% IWC and 90% of A. Lange & Söhne.
Trivia - Richemont purchased the remaining 40% of Jaeger-LeCoultre from the Audemars Piguet group for CHF 280m.
The combined cost of the acquisitions was CHF 3.8bn.
Even though A. Lange & Söhne is not a Swiss watchmaker, their expertise attracted the interest of the might Richemont who continue to increase their envious portfolio of luxury watchmakers.
In keeping with tradition, A. Lange & Söhne moved back to their original HQ in Glashütte on 7th December 2001.
To get an insight into the precision of their watches, the Lange & Söhne Terraluna is so precise that it won't need to be adjusted for 1,058 years!
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