A. Lange & Söhne Little Lange 1 - 111.035X - Most probably unique piece
When the clocks ticked over into 1998, the Lange 1 was already a bonafide trailblazer. Nevertheless, four years after its inauguration at the revival of the Lange name in 1994, A. Lange & Söhne was about to have a year that would cement the L1's modern legacy. It would be a year where the brand would commemorate the opening of a new manufacturing building with its first limited edition of the Lange 1, the Lange 1A 112.021. They would roll out a new experimental blue dial seen in a white metal reference last year into a yellow-gold case. To say it would be a significant year for Lange would be a humble statement. But perhaps one of the most momentous occasions during 1998 was the birth of the Little Lange 1.
At the standard 38.5mm width, the Lange 1 commands a deceivingly notable amount of wrist real estate, with its heavily set bezel and chunky lugs contributing hugely to the presence it commands. For some, its form is spot on, while for others with a penchant for restrained proportions, it could be seen as inconvenient. Lange wanted to suppress this potential apprehension, and with markets that generally have smaller wrists in mind, they released the Little Lange 1 at 36mm. Until 2006, the Little Lange 1 (LL1) wasn't a piece you could enter any boutique and acquire. It remained a scarce collection, only offered through certain boutiques worldwide. Post-2006, the Little Lange 1 returned to the range with an aesthetic more decisively directed towards the female market, but it's the pre-2006 examples that today command the most interest from collectors. A demand only perpetuated by no exact production numbers confirmed by the manufacturer – it's safe to assume that total numbers are extremely low. The earliest examples weren't explicitly aimed at the female market as the brand sought to offer proportionally reduced references of the Lange 1, resulting in models with silver and black dials and platinum, yellow gold, and white gold cases.
But as we have learnt today, not everything is as it seems in the history books. Very rarely, a unicorn such as this unique 111.035X reminds us that often the best pieces of history are the stories untold.
Custom orders are nothing new in the world of watchmaking. From the earliest sales of pocket watches to our favourite watch manufacturers today, made-to-order is a service typically out of sight from public view, only on a need-to-know basis, behind closed doors. By their very nature, custom creations are bespoke and symbolise the confidential relationship between the watch manufacturer and the soon-to-be owner, bringing us here and to this Little Lange 1 reference 111.035X. At least, that's how it started off life in 2000. That was before a client of Wempe, Germany requested the Little Lange 1 black dial, in all its stealthy, classically contrasted glory, be converted for something a touch more casual and arguably more dynamic. The desired dial was the rare early blue expression which carries distinctive nuance not often associated with Lange of the time. Although the dial had made its way to other references previously for the 101.028 (yellow gold) and 101.027 (white gold), these were both 38.5mm Lange 1 references. When it came to the smaller Little Lange 1, this dial only appeared serially on the 111.028, a yellow-gold cased reference. Therefore, this 111.035X makes it the only known Little Lange 1 with a blue dial and a white metal. Platinum, to be precise.
In 2013 this very piece appeared at auction with a letter from Lange confirming it was a custom order piece (Lange hadn't assigned it with the 'X' yet, something which has now been confirmed as of March 2023) with a winning bid of €30,000. For context, this came at a time when other Little Lange 1 pieces typically sold for approximately €10,000.
The 36.5mm wide platinum case is both compact and substantial, akin to its notched lugs that give the watch its industrial stance. Its central caseband is brushed, while the bezel and lugs are in high polish, delivering visual contrast that exemplifies that slight unique sheen only platinum can. Of course, a platinum-cased Lange isn't something to brush aside, but in the topic of this 035X, the combination of its dial is where the conversation leads. In some light it appears as a uniformed navy, while in others, the dial suggests a two-tone rendering due to two different treatments: vertical brushing and circular graining. The timekeeping dials are where the latter of treatments is present, occasionally giving off a darker, rich navy tone, leaving the remaining dial (or canvas, if you will) to deliver the uber-subtle brushing. White gold furniture from the Alpha hands to the mixture of diamond-shaped and Roman numerals, as well as the double date window framing ensure those all-important L1 hallmarks are as crisp as can be. When compared to other references with traditional dials such as silver, this individual execution of blue is undoubtedly striking and elevates the already present fascination of a platinum Little Lange 1 enormously.
Suppose the existence of this 111.035X alone wasn't adequate. In that case, the watch is complete with an all-mighty set including its box, outer box and sleeve, original manual, original platinum pin buckle, warranty papers, A. Lange & Söhne push pin for the date advancer on the case side, extract, service booklet, magazine, and VHS cassette from A. Lange & Söhne. In addition, the set is complete with the original letter from Lange Watches GmbH confirming the custom order, a letter dating from 2023 authenticating the initial letter and assigning the piece with a new 111.035X reference number.
The Lange calibre L.901.0 is powering this piece, a movement characterised by its ¾ plate produced in German silver. It features nine gold chatons, blued screws, 53 jewels, 72 hours of autonomy via its twin mainspring barrels and a highly decorated, hand-engraved balance cock with a swan neck regulator. Few watch movements possess identifiable qualities quite like a calibre produced by A. Lange & Söhne. With this L.901.0 visible through the display caseback, its beauty doesn't go unnoticed.
How It Wears
This is where we'd typically address the beautiful proportions of the Little Lange 1 and how with those slightly more slender lugs, the 36mm case truly offers a unisex wearing experience. Or how its more refined form is juxtaposed with the weighty platinum presence. But the wearability of this particular LL1 is a touch different, and it's all thanks to the original customer who requested a dial change. A conventional 111.035, with its sleek Darth black dial, is a laced-up, formal expression that conveys a sense of mightiness. But with its more approachable, calming, and dynamic blue dial hue, the feeling of this 111.035X is one of great importance – and best of all, due to the subdued visual nature of platinum and the relaxed tone of blue, the bulk of its significance is reserved exclusively for the wearer.
This special A. Lange & Söhne Little Lange 1 Custom Order - 111.035X recently underwent a manufacture service and has remained in unworn condition since. The watch is seen here fitted to a Mr Watchley Saffiano Mid-Grey leather strap.
If you desire to take a closer look at this precious timepiece, don't hesitate to contact us and make an appointment. We are based in Ghent, Belgium.
* Every watch is delivered in a Mr WATCHLEY Membrane Protection Box for a safe transportation in addition to its original set *
|Mr Watchley Saffiano Mid Grey
|Excellent - ALS serviced
|Sold in 2000
|Yes + Extract