A. Lange & Söhne’s short 21-year history has been one of immense success – offering truly cutting edge horological developments and design classics by the caseload. In fact, I would venture to say nobody, in Germany or Switzerland, has done as much for watchmaking over the last two decades as Lange. Still, auction results have been tepid. This will change, I’m sure of that. And what will help change things at a macro level are micro-level moments of success, likely driven by early production rarities. Take, for example, when the only known Double-Split in stainless steel came up at Christie’s. It sold for $501,000! Okay, that was a unique piece, but other early watches like the Pour le Mérite tourbillon are also performing well at auction and in the second hand market.
But both the Double-Split and Pour le Mérite tourbillon are serious complications, so on some level, a big price is warranted. The watch that is perhaps the best bellwether of collectible Langes is the Lange 1, the iconic 38.5 mm, time-plus-outsized-date-with-power-reserve model that remains the backbone of the entire collection. Steel Lange 1’s were produced in extremely limited quantities during the early days of the company – pre-Richemont – with most being produced in 1996 and ’97, and sold in Italy at Pisa. Some claim just 20 pieces were made, though by my math, less than half of that number has actually surfaced. The last one to sell at Christie’s brought down $154,000, with a silvered dial and blue hands seen here.
Now if you ask your average Lange connoisseur what a Steel L1 looks like, he’ll say, “silver dial, painted numerals, blued hands.” And he’d be right, because that’s how the majority of the steel watches we’ve seen have been made. But there exists another dial available on the steel Lange 1 – that of just a basic, black watch. You see one above. Oh, and for the first time, one will be available at a public auction!
Yes, that’s right. You will have a crack at taking home one of the absolute rarest Langes in the world – a steel Lange 1, with black dial. The general consenus is that three black dial Lange 1’s exist in the world, though as far as I know, that is conjecture. Lange does not confirm such things.
Needless to say, this Lange 1 is one of the coolest modern watches in the world, and one of the rarest. It is a little known configuration of a modern icon, and following the trend of steel Patek time only’s bringing six figures, this watch is surely something that will get a lot of people going.
How much, exactly? Well, Christie’s has put a mega-estimate on this mega-rare watch: $200,000 to $400,000. Just to be clear, even though silver dial L1’s have hit 150k and above, we seldom see estimates of six figures to begin. Here see clear confidence that this very special watch will bring a special result. This Steel Lange 1 with black dial will be offered by Christie’s in New York on June 7th.
Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, this is the very same black Lange 1 photographed by Gary over at Quill & Pad. Check this link out for some beautiful high-res imagery.