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

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With out giving an excessive amount of away, we are able to say that Anthony de Haas is one among our favorite interview topics. Not solely is he a charismatic persona and, consequently, at all times an ideal interview, he’s additionally disarmingly trustworthy about his work and A. Lange & Söhne on the whole. 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 could be all right down to de Haas being Dutch.

Now, de Haas is hardly a stranger to us, and to you, being one among solely three individuals who converse on the report for A. Lange & Söhne (all of whom have obliged us with face- time within the final 5 years or so). As such, you could possibly be forgiven for considering we might 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 explanation – there are numerous however this one works as an indicative illustration – is that de Haas provides nice quotes and is a hurricane of data. Getting swept away by a deluge of data is an actual chance 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 be aware, de Haas’ first reply is offered largely unedited, simply so you possibly can see how garrulous he may be, even when confronted with the only of questions (mine, because it occurs, which is uncommon for me). Each the query and the reply have been edited for readability, language, an excellent size, however are in any other case unaltered. In case you might be questioning, de Haas’ reply unfolded over 10 minutes, which took up all of my time for the interview, however he graciously carried on for nicely over the time the group was initially assigned. We truthfully have sufficient materials for fairly a private piece on de Haas, however sadly, neither time nor house is on our facet. Little doubt we are going to 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 desires 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 difficult chronograph (so) frankly, we mentioned, you recognize 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 obtainable in all places…” once we know that we battle a bit of bit (with manufacturing)…we now have lengthy ready lists for the metal Odysseus, the usual one. And we now 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 recognize, 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 all the pieces that we required suppliers for) and we did. Then all of us went into (COVID-19) lockdown and all these issues bought delayed and we by no means had been capable of meet up with the backlog…

On the watchmaking (motion) facet, in-house, we had one other drawback, and perhaps it’s also 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 we now have an issue as a result of is the Odysseus extra vital than the Lange 1? No! So, poor Tino and his workforce (need to handle this)…you possibly can’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

However, there may be additionally planning – I’ve planning and improvement (beneath me) and you could possibly (recommend) that I postpone improvement however that messes up my complete programme. We’ve got (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 a variety of wheels turning and there’s a lot at stake).

In the meanwhile (returning to the matter of the Odysseus Chronograph), we now 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 don’t seem to be absolute inexperienced persons – they had been beforehand engaged on the Triple Cut up. However the Odysseus Chronograph is so totally different to all of the chronographs we now 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 wished 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, perhaps the primary items will probably be delivered by (early 2024).

Don’t additionally underestimate complexity. For one thing just like the zero-reset (operate of the Langematik Perpetual and 1815 Tourbillon)…I get questions on why we shouldn’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 could be EU10,000 dearer (or extra) as a result of the zero-reset is nearly like a chronograph mechanism itself. You could have extra components, 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 a variety of laboratory exams for it. We check the start-stop chronograph motion 50,000 instances, after which one other 50,000 instances after letting the chronograph run 10 minutes (all of which is completed by a machine, there isn’t any one that is sitting there to begin and cease and restart the chronograph). We’re German right here, and we want 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 perhaps 500 individuals 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 are able to 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.

Creating (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 straightforward; I can do one a month,” however we simply don’t know earlier than we begin. We’d like a dependable plan that tells us how a lot time we have to really ship. Look (backside line), we’re not taking part in video games right here…it’s not like we now have 50 prepared already, however we’re ready a bit of bit as a result of it’s fascinating…

Sorry, this can be a very lengthy reply to a comparatively brief query, however I’m unhealthy at brief 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 strategy of the primary meeting, you may get oil everywhere in the motion, and also you don’t wish 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 we now have at A. Lange & Sohne is German silver and this materials is a bit delicate. Should you contact it, it should 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 we now have that nobody else has, and if I had been to offer the (A. Lange & Söhne) tour that will be the one machine I might present. It’s a washer for the German silver components. We developed this with the technical college right here in Dresden. So when, for instance, you make a base plate or a gear prepare bridge, the machine does first one facet after which the opposite. In between, the components all go into the specifically made washer. That, to me, is actually fascinating (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 all the pieces once more) has been customary at A. Lange & Söhne because the 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 assume we might save time however we didn’t; we wasted time!

On that be aware, A. Lange & Sohne doesn’t do all the pieces in-house, so how do you determine what issues you’ll do?

We don’t make dials and circumstances (as talked about earlier), however there are exceptions. We do make our personal enamel dials, which was an enormous venture for us and we even bought help from Vacheron Constantin once we encountered points. You already know, in Glashütte, there are perhaps eight or 9 watchmaking manufacturers, and 0 dialmakers. This implies a dialmaker received’t have sufficient enterprise right here to outlive. Are you able to now think about the type of funding it takes to begin and run a dialmaker? It’s not one thing we wish to contact, typically.

Equally, we make some difficult circumstances ourselves, however the remainder we go away to the good casemakers that we now have in (Richemont) over in Switzerland. You could have heard that we don’t make our personal screws, and it’s true. We all know the best way to make them, and we do make these components for prototypes. We ship the specs to specialists who’ve 40 instances the variety of machines that we now have (or can have). It is sensible for such a specialist to provide these parts.

However, you recognize we make hair springs, and this we wish to do. Certain we now have the capability to provide for others, and we do, however I favor to experiment with that capability. You already know the remontoir system we use within the Zeitwerk? There’s a second hairspring there, and it’s essential to know we by no means would have discovered this answer… even had the thought 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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