In 2017, many things are sensationalised and often embellished. From our own social media accounts to the marketing of the world’s biggest brands, we live in a world where life is made to seem far more glorious than perhaps it actually is. However, for A. Lange & Söhne, they remain well and truly about the watch, which ultimately gives them the upper hand.
Anthony de Haas, the Director of Product Development for A. Lange & Sohne, is proud of this fact but does acknowledge that it poses a little bit of challenge given the state of marketing in the digital age.
“At A. Lange & Söhne we say the watch is a star,” said de Haas. “It’s in the centre, the watch is the hero and that’s the point, so the marketing has been a difficult task over here to communicate. Sounds very boring, but it’s quite a challenging thing because you’ve quickly landed in technical things and that’s not very sexy, to be honest.”
Despite it not being “very sexy”, de Haas really stresses how the attention to detail in Lange and Söhne’s production is vastly more important to the brand, and by extension to watchmaking as a whole, than a glamorous and bedazzled façade.
‘That’s the fascination which people have for little fine mechanisms,” said de Haas. “It is fascinating. What we prefer to do is to make interesting mechanisms. We have (digital watches), but (they’re) purely mechanical. It’s nothing with batteries, nothing like that. But if you turn a watch around, you see the mechanism and if you take a spyglass and maybe with a bit of knowledge, you may understand what is happening there. You see it moving, that is fascination. So it’s not only engineering and building, it’s also hand craftsmanship. All the watches are lavishly finished by hand. It doesn’t make the watch run better but it’s so much nicer. This is a piece of art.”
The A. Lange & Söhne brand has itself quite a tumultuous history, having emerged through the darkest times in the Western world’s modern history after being founded in 1845. “Just after the Second World War – because we are the former Eastern Germany – the company got disowned,” said de Haas, “and Walter Lange had to flee to the West. The company was lost; it was completely gone. During the Russian occupation of Eastern Germany for two years, there was no Lange & Söhne. After the fall of the wall, Walter Lange” – who unfortunately very recently passed away at 92 years old – “was 65 years old, and at that age normal people go to retirement. Instead, he re-founded the Lange & Söhne company. And that was the beginning of the new era.”
That new era is something that all of us are now familiar with, of course. Despite constantly perpetuating innovation with every new release – most recently with the stunning Lange 1 Moon Phase – Lange & Söhne never compromise the brand or their heritage which, according to de Haas, is crucial.
“I think that’s a very important point in luxury business,” said de Haas. “Brands should of course try to create iconic products for the brand, but they should also stick to the DNA. And that’s the responsible thing because watchery is DNA. People will buy a Lange and they do not only buy a watch. They identify themselves with the brand, they say: This is my watch, this is my brand, I love it. This is me.”
All in all, it’s A. Lange & Söhne’s understated luxury that continues to appeal to connoisseurs and consumers alike. It’s elegant and exclusive, but passes on the flashy and sexy façade. That’s not what this brand is about – they don’t need that. As de Haas so eloquently put it, “money talks, but wealth whispers.”