The way I explain what a rattrapante is to non-watch people is simple. I say, ‘It’s like a mechanical stopwatch, but magic . . .just watch.’ Then, as the watch enthusiast, you have the pleasure of watching their mind explode in slow motion as one chronograph hand freezes an event in time, the other totally uninterrupted. You don’t need to know anything about horology to grapple with just how complex a mechanical problem that must be or enjoy the result, it’s self-evident. Split seconds is one of the three classic high complications, alongside the perpetual calendar and minute repeater. Despite having conquered the Double Split (splitting minutes and seconds), Triple Split (minutes, seconds, and hours), and Pour Le Mérite Tourbograph, Lange only released their first rattrapante-only chronograph just two years ago. And what a rattrapante it is.
The ref. 425.050 1815 Rattrapante takes that classic high complication and filters it through the lens of modern Lange. This means it fits in the 1815 Chronograph range, with a case that is 41mm and just (for a split seconds) 12.6mm tall. Yet, it’s not the proportions but their composition which stand out here. Lange chose to introduce the complication in Honeygold, a unique gold alloy reserved for special occasions or limited series. It’s harder than usual 18k, in fact harder than platinum, and paler in tone. Its composition is a closely guarded secret. This 1815 Rattrapante Honeygold is limited to just 100 examples. Lange must have liked what they’d created, as they were willing to give it the most revered name of their lore in calling it an ‘Hommage to F.A. Lange’.
The rattrapante mechanism is classically attained through two column wheels, one for the usual chronograph operation and a second for the splitting mechanism and its pincer. That’s the case here. But what is not standard is the dial layout, with seconds at 6 and a totalizer at 12. This is more pocket watch than wristwatch, and a deliberate design choice. In fact, there are innumerable design details worth noting. Like the fact that some hands are pink gold while others are white gold for clarity. Or that the traditional balance cock engravings here were treated with rhodium for visual contrast. Patek have had monopoly on the high-end rattrapante game for decades. In the 425.050, they may have finally met a worthy adversary.
This example is quoted in the original listing as ‘superb’ and I’d agree. The case shows only the very lightest of surface wear on its highly polished bezel. The rest, flawless. It comes with a full set from Phillips retail offering in London.
Find this 425.050 here from Phillips Perpetual for 199500 GBP.