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Saturday, March 2, 2024

A. Lange & Söhne Product Growth Director Anthony de Haas Speaks Frankly

With out giving an excessive amount of away, we will say that Anthony de Haas is one in all our favorite interview topics. Not solely is he a charismatic persona and, consequently, at all times an incredible interview, he’s additionally disarmingly sincere about his work and A. Lange & Söhne normally. This isn’t to say that different spokespeople similar to Wilhelm Schmid and Tino Bobe are much less forthcoming, however de Haas simply has a sure vibe. Or it may be all right down to de Haas being Dutch.

Now, de Haas is hardly a stranger to us, and to you, being one in all solely three individuals who converse on the document for A. Lange & Söhne (all of whom have obliged us with face- time within the final 5 years or so). As such, you might be forgiven for considering we’d have little to debate with de Haas. Nothing might be farther from the reality although as a result of this watchmaking legend is a well-liked and far sought-after interview topic. The rationale – there are a lot of however this one works as an indicative illustration – is that de Haas provides nice quotes and is a hurricane of knowledge. Getting swept away by a deluge of knowledge is an actual risk each time one engages de Haas.

On the event of this newest assembly, WOW Thailand editor Ruckdee Chotjinda is with us as a result of we’re visiting the A. Lange & Söhne manufacture in Glashütte. The dialog occurred in a nondescript convention room with journalists from our area; additionally current are representatives from Robb Report Malaysia and QP Thailand. For probably the most half, the questions and solutions offered listed here are from Ruckdee and this author, though interjections did happen however have been excluded for the sake of brevity. The second query, on double-assembly, got here from the Robb Report journalist.

Learn Extra: An Unique Interview With A. Lange & Söhne Manufacturing Director Tino Bobe On The Way forward for Luxurious Watchmaking

On that observe, de Haas’ first reply is offered largely unedited, simply so you’ll be able to see how garrulous he may be, even when confronted with the best of questions (mine, because it occurs, which is uncommon for me). Each the query and the reply have been edited for readability, language, a good size, however are in any other case unaltered. In case you’re questioning, de Haas’ reply unfolded over 10 minutes, which took up all of my time for the interview, however he graciously carried on for properly over the time the group was initially assigned. We actually have sufficient materials for fairly a private piece on de Haas, however sadly, neither time nor area is on our aspect. Little question we’ll get the possibility once more!

Congratulations once more on the Odysseus Chronograph, which Tino Bobe confirmed us at Watches and Wonders Geneva this yr. Everybody needs to know why you made this as a restricted version, and solely a restricted version, which is a primary for A. Lange & Söhne…

Yeah, now we thought it’s a really, very, very sophisticated chronograph (so) frankly, we mentioned, you understand what, let’s begin with a restricted version in (metal), after which we’ll see. Allow us to first ship these hundred items, then we’ll see. Making the world mad with (a declare that) “it’s out there in all places…” after we know that we battle a bit of bit (with manufacturing)…now we have lengthy ready lists for the metal Odysseus, the usual one. And now we have titanium and white gold (variations of the usual time-only Odysseus); we had been actually overwhelmed by the success…by the demand for the Odysseus.

Once we launched the watch in October, 2019 it was very polarizing and that was good. However by December already we needed to have a manufacturing assembly as a result of, you understand, we don’t make dials, we’re not dial makers; the bracelets, we don’t make (this) in home. So, we needed to order further items (of every thing that we required suppliers for) and we did. Then all of us went into (COVID-19) lockdown and all these issues obtained delayed and we by no means had been in a position to meet up with the backlog…

On the watchmaking (motion) aspect, in-house, we had one other downside, and possibly additionally it is as a result of we had been caught off-guard (concerning the demand for the Odysseus): the watchmakers who work on the calibre (L155.1) are the identical ones who work on the Lange 1 (calibre L121.1). It’s the similar stage of qualification wanted to make both, so now now we have an issue as a result of is the Odysseus extra essential than the Lange 1? No! So, poor Tino and his staff (must handle this)…you’ll be able to’t say to a watchmaker this week you make Odysseus and the week after you’re employed on the Lange 1. It doesn’t work like that; for a watchmaker, it’s annoying [de Haas himself is a trained watchmaker – Ed] however we are literally about to do (one thing like this).

Learn Extra: A. Lange & Sohne Lange 1 Time Zone: WOW Editor’s Choose

Alternatively, there may be additionally planning – I’ve planning and growth (beneath me) and you might (recommend) that I postpone growth however that messes up my entire programme. We’ve (for instance, one other complication deliberate for the Odysseus) and this takes between two to 3 years. If I postpone this, then one thing else will get delayed, and all of it begins to eat into the life cycle of the collections (so there are numerous wheels turning and there’s a lot at stake).

In the meanwhile (returning to the matter of the Odysseus Chronograph), now we have two watchmakers in coaching to make the calibre L156.1 [this is the Odysseus Chronograph calibre – Ed]. I say they’re in coaching however they aren’t absolute newbies – they had been beforehand engaged on the Triple Break up. However the Odysseus Chronograph is so totally different to all of the chronographs now we have made earlier than. I imply, sure there’s a vertical clutch right here however, as a watchmaker, after I hear ‘vertical clutch’ I consider one thing made industrially. We needed to make one thing fully totally different, and that’s the problem we gave ourselves. (The 2 new guys) are excited to be engaged on the Odysseus Chronograph and if they begin in November, possibly the primary items will probably be delivered by (early 2024).

Don’t additionally underestimate complexity. For one thing just like the zero-reset (perform of the Langematik Perpetual and 1815 Tourbillon)…I get questions on why we wouldn’t have a zero-reset throughout the collections as a result of it’s so genius… We may do it, within the common Lange 1 for instance, however then the value of the watch would explode…it might be EU10,000 costlier (or extra) as a result of the zero-reset is nearly like a chronograph mechanism itself. You may have extra elements, and so that you want extra space.

So (again to the Odysseus Chronograph), as a result of it’s so totally different and so difficult for us, we make numerous laboratory exams for it. We check the start-stop chronograph motion 50,000 occasions, after which one other 50,000 occasions after letting the chronograph run 10 minutes (all of which is completed by a machine, there isn’t a one who is sitting there to begin and cease and restart the chronograph). We’re German right here, and we wish a bit of German high quality management! For this reason we mentioned simply 100 items, though – on the primary day of Watches and Wonders Geneva – our gross sales guys requested why we don’t make 250 items. We all know that there are possibly 500 folks we may promote the Odysseus Chronograph to [and probably much more than this – Ed] however (once more, due to the complexity of doing one thing so difficult for the primary time) we mentioned allow us to first make and ship these 100 items. How briskly – comparatively – we will even make these watches is one thing we don’t know. We have no idea if we may make one watch in a single yr, or two years… Promoting the watches is one factor, making them is one other factor.

Growing (one thing just like the Odysseus Chronograph), that’s what you [meaning journalists and collectors – Ed] won’t ever see as a result of we’re making one thing fully new. Possibly, these two watchmakers who will work on the Odysseus Chronograph will say “Oh, that is simple; I can do one a month,” however we simply don’t know earlier than we begin. We want a dependable plan that tells us how a lot time we have to truly ship. Look (backside line), we’re not enjoying video games right here…it’s not like now we have 50 prepared already, however we’re ready a bit of bit as a result of it’s attention-grabbing…

Sorry, it is a very lengthy reply to a comparatively quick query, however I’m dangerous at quick solutions.

Inform us extra about double-assembly, which is a signature at A. Lange & Söhne.

You already know, second meeting is, on the planet of issues, a quite common factor. I used to work at Audemars Piguet in Switzerland [close to 20 years ago now because de Haas celebrates his 20th anniversary at A. Lange & Sohne in 2024 – Ed]. We did the identical factor. Within the means of the primary meeting, you would possibly get oil everywhere in the motion, and also you don’t need to promote one thing in that state. So you’re taking it aside and clear it; that’s what we do right here too. The particular factor now we have at A. Lange & Sohne is German silver and this materials is a bit delicate. When you contact it, it is going to oxidise – however after all no watchmaker will ever contact any part with (naked) fingers. By no means, whether or not right here or Patek Philippe or Seiko [component manufacturing is another matter though, no matter where you go, and contact with bare skin might happen – Ed].

So, you didn’t see our CNC machines as a result of it’s all the identical stuff as they’ve in Switzerland, and you’ve got most likely seen extra producers than me. However there may be one machine now we have that nobody else has, and if I had been to provide the (A. Lange & Söhne) tour that may be the one machine I’d present. It’s a washer for the German silver elements. We developed this with the technical college right here in Dresden. So when, for instance, you make a base plate or a gear practice bridge, the machine does first one aspect after which the opposite. In between, the elements all go into the specifically made washer. That, to me, is de facto attention-grabbing (and totally different right here at A. Lange & Söhne).

Double-assembly (the place we do a primary meeting of each calibre after which take all of them aside and do every thing once more) has been commonplace at A. Lange & Söhne for the reason that begin. It’s simply how we work. Now, we tried to just do single meeting, with the Saxonia, as soon as and it was a catastrophe. You suppose we’d save time however we didn’t; we wasted time!

On that observe, A. Lange & Sohne doesn’t do every thing in-house, so how do you resolve what issues you’ll do?

We don’t make dials and instances (as talked about earlier), however there are exceptions. We do make our personal enamel dials, which was an enormous challenge for us and we even obtained assist from Vacheron Constantin after we encountered points. You already know, in Glashütte, there are possibly eight or 9 watchmaking manufacturers, and nil dialmakers. This implies a dialmaker gained’t have sufficient enterprise right here to outlive. Are you able to now think about the form of funding it takes to begin and run a dialmaker? It isn’t one thing we need to contact, usually.

Equally, we make some sophisticated instances ourselves, however the remainder we depart to the good casemakers that now we have in (Richemont) over in Switzerland. You’ll have heard that we don’t make our personal screws, and it’s true. We all know how you can make them, and we do make these elements for prototypes. We ship the specs to specialists who’ve 40 occasions the variety of machines that now we have (or can have). It is sensible for such a specialist to supply these elements.

Alternatively, you understand we make hair springs, and this we need to do. Certain now we have the capability to supply for others, and we do, however I choose to experiment with that capability. You already know the remontoir system we use within the Zeitwerk? There’s a second hairspring there, and you need to know we by no means would have discovered this resolution… even had the concept of a remontoir system within the Zeitwerk, if we didn’t have hairspring manufacturing capability.

This text first appeared on WOW’s Legacy 2024 subject.

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