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The Generation Gap: A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Review

by Robin Lim on March 21, 2014

The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 has been around with us for two decades, since its inception in 1994. Over the years, it was updated twice, once in 2005 and the latest in 2014. Deployant had the rare opportunity to get our hands on all the three generations of the 1815, and today we will find out if the latest version is better than its predecessors.

The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 has always been one of my favourite dress watches of all time. It is simple, subtle, and it exudes a sense of elegance and class at the same time. The finishing of this watch, as per all A. Lange and Sohne’s timepieces, is of the highest quality too. But I digressed too much.

Can you tell the difference between the three generations of the 1815?

Can you tell the difference between the three generations of the 1815?

At the first glance, it is really difficult to tell the difference between the three generations of the 1815. However, upon closer inspection, the subtle differences began to show.

One of the greatest difference between these three watches would be its case size. The original version (in Yellow Gold, as per featured in the pictures above) is the smallest at 36mm. Its successor, which was launched in 2005, is the largest at 40mm in size (in White Gold, as shown in the pictures above). The latest version (in Pink Gold) sits in between its predecessors at 38.5mm. The case size of the latest version is neither too big nor too small by today’s standards. Certainly a great plus point over here.

The three generations of the 1815. The latest variant of the 1815 is on the left (in Pink Gold), while the original variant of the 1815 is on the right (in Yellow Gold).

The three generations of the 1815. The latest variant of the 1815 is on the left (in Pink Gold), while the original variant of the 1815 is on the right (in Yellow Gold).
It is interesting to note that the original 1815 above is in yellow gold, but has, over the years taken a patina which looked more like it was red gold.

Like the Lange 1 and the Grand Lange 1, the change in the case size of the watch resulted in the change of the dial size in similar proportions as well. The dial size of the latest version of the 1815 is significantly smaller. We found that out when we lined up the minute hand at the beginning of the “A” from the “A. Lange & Söhne” emblem that was printed on the dial. As shown in the picture, the latest one lined up on the 51 minute mark, while its immediate predecessor lined up beyond the 51 minute mark. Also, there is a difference in the position of the “Made in Germany” emblem on the dial itself. In the latest version, it is situated between the arabic numerals and the railway-track minute scale. As for its predecessors, it is situated between the railway-track minute scale and the bezel itself.

Read also:   Throwback Sundays: Six Watch Recommendations for a Dapper Gentleman, from Our Archives

On the subject of bezels and casing, the latest 1815 features a “Step Bezel” as well. It gives the latest variant a slightly more refined and sophisticated finish, rather than the simple rounded-edge bezel that its predecessors had.

3-1815-back

Caseback shot of the three 1815s. Out of the three generations of the 1815, only the original variant uses a different movement.

In terms of the movements used, the latest version of the 1815 shares the same L051.1 caliber as its immediate predecessor. Only the original version used a different movement, the L941.1 caliber. It came as a surprise to me, as I thought that Lange would use a different movement for the newer 1815. Because of the same movement used, and that the case size is different, the end result would be a thinner metal portion on the caseback for the latest version of the 1815. It looks slightly more aesthetically pleasing, in my opinion. Perhaps it is the work of proportions?

The difference between the escapement on the L941.1 caliber (on the left) and the L051.1 caliber (on the right).

The difference between the escapement on the L941.1 caliber (on the left) and the L051.1 caliber (on the right).

Another interesting difference that we have noted between the L941.1 caliber (used on the original 1815) and the L051.1 caliber (used on the subsequent 1815s) is the escapement. In the older caliber, a collet carrying two pins is present. By adjusting the collet position, the two pins can be moved to adjust the length of the hairspring is present. The escapement will beat faster with a shorter hairspring, and vice versa. On the L051.1 caliber, however, Lange pre-calculates the length required.

The L941.1 Caliber that was used in the original 1815.

The L941.1 Caliber that was used in the original 1815.

It is very difficult to make something that is already exceptional even better. This is the case with the A. Lange & Söhne’s 1815. I thought that it was already a really splendid watch, in terms of its design and finishing. But the Lange team managed to make it even slightly better, with the new bezel design and a smaller case size. The only disappointment is the fact that the latest version of the 1815 would be sharing the same movement as its predecessor, which is something that Lange would not have usually done. On the other hand, some people may have the “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality, and believe that this is alright to use the L051.1 caliber once again. Well, it is up to each individual to decide if Lange should have done otherwise. But one thing is for sure. This is still an exceptional dress watch, and it is definitely an improvement from its predecessors, albeit slightly.

The latest iteration of the 1815. Note the gold assay markings now include a mark saying "AU750", while the first version only had the St. Bernard head and a scale with 750 on it.

The latest iteration of the 1815. Note the gold assay markings now include a mark saying “AU750”, while the first version only had the St. Bernard head and a scale with 750 on it.

The latest version of the 1815 is available in Pink Gold, Yellow Gold, and White Gold with matching leather straps. For more details and pricing information, do contact your local A. Lange & Söhne boutique or Authorised Dealers to find out more.

Read also:   Review: A. Lange & Söhne 1815 ‘Homage to Walter Lange’
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3 Comments
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  • James Tan
    January 1, 2016 at 2:13 am

    I see. Thanks for the interesting insight on the early L1s!

    Happy New Year to you and the rest of the team, Peter! Have a great 2016 ahead!

  • James Tan
    December 31, 2015 at 10:00 am

    This is an excellent comparison! Kudos to you guys!

    Have you guys also considered doing the same generations comparison with the Lange 1s? Especially since the early Lange 1’s came equipped with overcoil hairsprings.

    • December 31, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Thanks James for your comment and for the suggestion to do a Generation Gap article on the Lange 1. I am not sure if we can locate one of the original L1 with overcoils, very few were made, and they were almost always changed to flat springs at the factory during service. The reason is that the balance wheel on the L901.0 is quite small, actually the early Langes shared a wheel train, and the overcoil became more a problem (it can snag on itself) than an advantage.

      The new Lange 1 with the L121 movement has a larger balance but is also using a flat hairspring, though now free sprung and made in Glashutte.

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