401.026 First Series A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph

There’s an old German proveb that goes ‘Das billige ist immer das teuerste’, or ‘The cheapest is always most expensive’. Germans invest in quality. You get the sense that a watchmaker on a bench at Lange wouldn’t be able cut a corner if they tried, that in their mind anything less than perfect mirror anglage will result in a surprisingly efficient execution from an undead Walter Lange in some strange Saxon Walking Dead-like horological nightmare. No, Lange get things right the first time. And then they do it again just to be sure (not joking about that, if you didn’t know each movement is built, checked, disassembled, inspected, built again, and checked again). This even extends to their design, where in my estimation, Lange never built a finer looking chronograph than the first series 1815.


The 1815 chrono is a distilled Datograph, lacking a date module which allows the case to be 2.3mm thinner. The new L951.0 calibre was otherwise the same marvel as in the Datograph. But this first series of the 1815 was something a bit more seductive than what we see today in the range. It flaunted a complex four-layer dial construction, sunken subdials contrasted agains a solid silver main plate with chapter ring and pulsations scale on elevated peripheral rings.


As hard as it is to believe, the 1815 Chrono was a slow seller out of the gate, and Lange believed a refresh was required to meet a more standard aesthetic. The second series did away the pulsations scale and contrasting subdials for sake of dial clarity. That’s all fine and well, but profoundly less romantic to my eye. The first series was produced from just 2004 until 2008, relatively short for a standard production Lange. Today, it’s quickly becoming a modern classic and more collected by the day. In the light of the recent explosion in Lange scholarship, collectors and enthusiasts alike are taking a closer look at the first series for its restrained charm, rarity, and obvious technical merit. I’ve called it the finest chronograph produced at scale in the last decade. I stand by it, although the 5170 right there.

This example has light wear visible in portions of the white gold case, but not much. It sold originally in Japan and, generally, those guys like to take care of their objects. It comes with a full set from a well-regarded London retailer.

Find this First Series 1815 Chronograph here from A Collected Man for 45000 GBP.