A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite”

2017 GPHG Mechanical Exception Category Finalist

With its compendium of classical complications, the Tourbograph Perpetual "Pour le Mérite" by A. Lange & Söhne represents a masterclass of Saxon watchmaking, and the brand's crowning piece of 2017.

In 2013, A. Lange & Söhne won the last ever Aiguille award in the Grande Complication category with its 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar, and those celebrations were compounded later that same evening when it was also awarded the Public Prize too. This year the company are contesting the renamed Mechanical Exception category with a piece which shares many of the features and functions of its award-winning forebear, but with an entirely different approach to how they went about it, and with added horologic goodness.

On the dial side the chronograph, calendar and moonphase information is displayed across three dual purpose subdials, with blue indicators for the chronograph and rhodiumed gold for the day, date, month and leap year, to optimise legibility, and the split seconds rattrapante is done in gold. Dominating the bottom of the dial the sixty-second tourbillon is a magnet for the eyes as it rotates gracefully around beneath its black polished bridge.

The "Pour le Mérite" title denotes a movement which employs the constant force of the chain and fusée to regulate the delivery of energy throughout the mainspring's reserve. With the chain alone comprising 636 nano components, and the supreme level of manufacturing and finishing skills which have been applied to every element, the new Calibre L133.1 is an extraordinary, elaborate and complex piece of workmanship.

Perfecting this movement was itself a huge undertaking, as the challenge of harmoniously and efficiently integrating its chronograph, rattrapante and perpetual calendar whilst accommodating a large tourbillon, all without compromising the precision or energy consumption, required ingenious design and indefatigable manual dexterity, which happily the Glashütte manufacture have at its disposal.

Its numbers are not surprisingly impressive too, as its perpetual calendar will require no physical adjustment until the year 2100, and the moonphase depicted on a deep blue disc of white gold needing no attention for 122.6 years.

Showcasing A. Lange at its very best, the Tourbograph Perpetual "Pour le Mérite" is a formidable opponent to all of its rivals in the GPHG 2017 Mechanical Exception category, and in my opinion it will take something very special to deny it the honours, but this is a super-heated category, with Minute Repeaters from Audemars Piguet and L.U.C. Chopard, and a true Grande Complication from Vacheron Constantin , so there are no foregone conclusions here.


The Watch Press prediction

The Tourbograph Perpetual "Pour le Mérite" will be there at the final reckoning as the jury close in on their decision, that's for sure. It's a very likely winner here, but I'm not sure that Vacheron have not stolen the show with its heavenly horologic tour de force. I'll probably end up slapping my forehead, feeling stupid on awards night, but I'm going to say "No".


The pertinents

CASE: Platinum
BUCKLE: Folding clasp
MOVEMENT: Hand winding mechanical with chain and fusée. Power reserve: 36 h, 21'600 vph
FUNCTIONS: Hours, Minutes, Date, Day, Month, Year, Moonphase, Tourbillon, Chronograph, Split Second Chronograph, Perpetual Calendar, Special Escapement
SIZE: ø 43 mm
THICKNESS: 16.6 mm