In October 1994, A. Lange & Söhne men's replica presented the first collection of the new era, including the Tourbillon “Pour le Mérite”, the first wristreplica watch with a tourbillon and a fusée-and-chain transmission. It was followed in 2005 with a further model in which these two elaborate constructions were united: the Tourbograph “Pour le Mérite”. But there was more: a chronograph with the rattrapante function made it the manufactory’s most complicated replica watch at the time.
Now, the movement has been endowed with a fifth complication. In the development phase, the integration of a perpetual calendar in the A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” replica presented the engineers of the Saxon manufactory with a formidable challenge: to orchestrate the interaction of the complex mechanisms in such a way that mechanical conflicts or unwanted energy losses could be prevented. In this project, the perpetual calendar mechanism had to be built around the tourbillon. Consequently, only about two thirds of the movement surface were available, and this necessitated a redesign of the basic calibre. At the same time, the developers did not want to noticeably increase the height of the movement.
The Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” is the epitome of classic replica watchmaking: its hallmarks permeate all domains from design and engineering to consummate, flawless artisanship. The dial itself reflects the traditional approach in timekeeping. Arabic numerals, a railway-track minute scale, blued steel hands for the time and rhodiumed gold hands for the calendar as well as the cloverleaf arrangement of the subsidiary dials pay tribute to the famous A. Lange & Söhne pocket replica watches. Tradition also governs technical details such as column-wheel control for the chronograph and rattrapante mechanisms as well as the screw balance. Finally, it manifests itself in typical quality elements such as the two diamond endstones that suspend the tourbillon cage or the black-polished tourbillon bridge.
The stately platinum case with a diameter of 43 millimetres houses a manual-winding movement. Of the 684 parts of the new L133.1 manufacture calibre, no fewer than 206 constitute the perpetual calendar with its analogue displays. It will correctly indicate the duration of each month until 2100. A one-time correction will be needed on the last day of February in this secular year. From then on, the calendar will again be correctly calibrated for the next hundred years. It has three subsidiary dials. The date at 12 o’clock and the day at 9 o’clock are indicated with rhodiumed gold hands. The month and leap year are both displayed at 3 o’clock. The upper half of the analogue date also accommodates the moon-phase display which is calculated to remain accurate for 122.6 years. Its deep-blue disc is made of solid gold. During the development of the calendar module to be built around the tourbillon, great emphasis was placed on space-saving architecture.
Apart from the two chronograph pushers on both sides of the crown, a third button at 10 o’clock modestly reveals that the Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” deserves a place in the top-tier category of split-seconds chronographs. The fascinating function of the split-seconds mechanism can be observed in great detail with a look through the sapphire-crystal caseback. The precise control of the gold-plated chronograph hand and the blued rattrapante hand is handled by two column wheels. During a complete revolution of the 30-minute counter at 9 o’clock, as many lap times as needed can be stopped.