A.Lange & Sohne

Born in Dresden on 18 February 1815, Adolph Lange began his training as an apprentice watchmaker under J.C. Friedrich Gutkaes aged 15, whilst still attending Dresden polytechnic school. He completed his apprenticeship in 1835 with honours and worked for Gutkaes for 2 years before travelling Europe in order to perfect his skills. Upon his return to Dresden in 1841, Lange became a co-owner of Gutkaes' manufactory and the two went on to build the famous five minute clock in Dresden's Semper Opera. Then in 1845, in light of social and economic trouble, Lange set out for the town of Glashutte, where on 7 December he established its precision watchmaking industry.

His vision for the town soon became apparent as Lange appointed 15 of its inhabitants to be trained as watchmakers. In the following years, from his workshop in Glashutte, Lange pioneered a host of innovative designs and techniques. Amongst his developments were the use of three-quarter plates in his movements and the use of millimetres as opposed to lignes. Adolph Lange's reputation continued to growth as did that of his watches and he went on to become the major of Glashutte, serving for 18 years before his death in 1875, aged 60. The town, which owed much to Lange and his vision, later erected a monument in his memory.

Adolph's two sons, Richard and Emil inherited the company, known as A.Lange & Sohne since their introduction in 1868, which had become highly respected. In the years that followed, the brothers guided the company from strength to strength as Germany's economy bloomed. The reputation of the company's watch had grown to such an extent that in 1898 Kaiser William II order a pocket watch as a gift for Sultan Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire.

During the decades of the brothers' leadership, A.Lange & Sohne achieved global fame as manufacturers of exquisite timepieces, with both Ruchard and Emil receiving personal recognition for their achievements. In 1902, Emil was made a knight of the French Legion of Honour and Richard's renown as a scientist saw him gain 27 patents and utility model grants before his death, including the hugely significant development of balance spring alloys.

The thriving market for exquisite timepieces did not last, as World War I brought with it hard times for all watch manufacturers including A.Lange & Sohne, although their production of marine chronometers helped the company survive where others did not. In 1919, Emil Lange passed control of the company to his sons. Though the company's reputation helped it through the hard years that followed, the outbreak of World War II meant that the industry was once again in trouble and on 8 May 1945 the company's workshops were hit by Russian bombers. In 1948 the company was expropriated by the communist regime.

In 1990, after the reuniting of Germany, Walter Lange, the great grandson of Adolph Lange, returned to Glashutte with the vision of restoring glory to the famous watchmaking name and town. Four years later the first watches of the new era were presented. A.Lange & Sohne has since returned to fame as one of the greatest watch manufacturers, not only of Germany, but of the world.

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