401.026 First Series A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph
If you’ve ever wondered to yourself just how gorgeous a distilled Datograph could be, this is your answer. Lange broke all standards of watchmaking in 1999 with the aesthetically moving and impressively engineered calibre L951.1 Datograph, entirely manufactured on German soil. In the wake of that momentous release, a subset of collectors clamoured for a paired-back version with a thinner case, accomplished through removing the bulky date mechanism. Hence, the 2004-released 1815 chronograph was borne.
But this first series of the 1815 was something a bit more seductive than what we see today in the range. The first series 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. The second series did away the pulsations scale and contrasting subidals for sake of dial clarity, but the charm of their relationship to the L951.0 chronograph has always left the second series looking, ironically, cold and clinical to me. The first generation was unashamed to be a little bit quirky, and that idiosyncrasy is unlikely to return from zee Germans. The first series was updated 2008, leaving just a four year production run. 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. 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, obvious rarity, and technical merit.
The L951.0 which underpinned this entire effort remains very much of the Datograph, minus the ‘dato’ portion. The only significant difference is the remove of the sizable date mechanism which allowed for a 10.8mm rise in this 39mm case, a return to classic proportions from the realm of heft. It still boasts a flyback, jumping minute recorder, horizontal clutch, column wheel, and finishing which is amongst or above the apex of anything anywhere. Many, including myself, have called the Datograph the most beautiful chronograph produced at scale. That’s true enough, it got there first in 1999. But, if I’m being honest with myself, the focused sparseness of the first 1815 Chrono is equally deserving of that accolade.
This example in a lovely state. The white gold case shows only the very lightest signs of ever having been on a wrist, and that is all I can say. A perfect secondary market candidate. It comes with its full set from a well-regarded Dutch retailer.
Find this 1815 Chrono here from Vintage Times Amsterdam for 103800 USD.