This is really our first issue for the year, dominated as it is with 2021 watches. As such, this is not the place to look for trends and lengthy diatribes (if you enjoy those, we still stock them but they have more to do with watches in general, not just novelties). Having said that, you have found one of a couple of pieces that are a bit different. The Summer issue completes a rather unusual troika relating to one specific brand: A .Lange & Söhne. If you are a regular reader (or if you are reading this online), you will have noticed that we brought you conversations with Wilhelm Schmid and Anthony de Haas - CEO and Head of Product Development, respectively - within the last 12 months. Ordinarily we would have stopped right there because we do care a little bit about balance in our coverage. When Watches & Wonders rolled around, we were set to avoid full A. Lange & Söhne interview pieces...until the manufacture offered us half-an-hour with Tino Bobe, the Head of Manufacturing at the German brand.
The last time we featured Bobe, it was 2019 right after the SIHH fair, and that alone might have justified our decision to do the interview. If you know anything about A. Lange & Söhne, and have followed the brand for a few years, you will have realised that senior management tends to stick around for the long haul here. This is remarkable, with Schmid having the shortest tenure of the top executives, at just over 10 years. We talked with both Schmid and de Haas about this but we really wanted to get into it with Bobe, who is a 20-year veteran with the firm. Only Arnd Einhorn, the head of communications, has been with A. Lange & Söhne longer (by perhaps a year, Bobe reckons).
Bobe is also a veteran of Glashütte, being a local, and that adds to his stature. According to him, he spent 40 years in the little Saxony town proper, and now lives just 10km outside with his family. What with home and work having taken on new dynamics, it is worth hearing the perspective of a person with an unusual situation in the first place. Bobe does not disappoint. While he echoes Schmid and de Haas’ comments about putting the safety of the workforce first, he also inadvertently reveals his passion for teamwork and his colleagues. Although we asked him directly about the work-from-home situation at the manufacture, his most distinctive answer came in relation to how the new movement for the Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar took shape.
To make that watch, the teams of de Haas and Bobe not only looked at the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar, they also decided to study the Lange 1 Daymatic. “In the end we also integrated our people in the movement assembly department, combining their expertise with those of the movement designers, to do a more complete analysis.” This is why the manufacture elected to begin work on the new perpetual calendar by using the Daymatic as the base, not the tourbillon perpetual calendar.
Such collaboration is key to watchmaking in general, and the pandemic situation has challenged that, as Bobe reveals. Nevertheless, business continues even as the world progresses through the peaks and troughs of COVID-19. Obviously, this interview was conducted digitally, for example. Happily, we were still able to see each other, otherwise one of Bobe little jokes would have missed its mark. With that, we invite you into the mind of Bobe, and a fuller explanation of the new perpetual calendar as well as the Little Lange 1 Moonphase.
How has the pandemic shaped working reality in watchmaking?
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