Just last year we had the pleasure of wearing the 1815 Flyback Chronograph from Lange, however, we had reservations about the dial and said that it lacked a little something in comparison to its predecessor. This year shortly after Concorso d’Eleganza, held each year at Villa d’Este, Lake Como, Lange introduced an updated version of the 1815 Flyback and this time it has not only excited fans of the brand but also those who are yet to make their first Lange purchase. The new 1815 Flyback with Black dial and pulsation scale has set pulses racing (no pun intended) and many, us included, will venture as far as to say it is perhaps the perfect Lange. With that in mind, we decided to spend a couple of weeks with it to see if it is a Lange worthy of this accolade.
It was way back in 1999 that Lange stunned the world of watchmaking with their Datograph and the thing is, not only was it a fully in-house developed chronograph, (which I may add not many attempted to develop in their adolescent years), but it also featured a flyback function. And to add to this, a big date window and power reserve indicator. The 1815 Flyback chronograph is essentially a Datograph minus the large date window and power reserve that admittedly affords for a much cleaner dial.
The 1815 Flyback was originally launched in 2004, and garnered quite a bit of attention, despite the fact this was also the same year the DS Flyback was released too. While it didn’t create the hysteria that surrounded the Datograph, what Lange offered was the same great chronograph movement that could be found in the Datograph, in a smaller package, with purer chronograph aesthetics and a more wearable case design. With the omission of the big date, this afforded a much smaller movement, which Lange housed in a case that only measured a mere 10.8 mm thick in comparison to the 13.1 mm of the Datograph.
The first 1815 Flyback actually featured a black dial with white subsidiary dials and a pulse-o-metre scale, which in my opinion looked pretty darn cool and was perhaps more nostalgic of early 20th century chronographs. However, when Lange updated this model in 2010 (now discontinued) the dial was a much sparser affair, with the omission of the pulsation scale, the dial was perhaps a little more sterile. Fast forward to 2017 and Lange have made an update that will whet the appetite of any WIS.
This updated 1815 Flyback Chronograph re-incorporates the charm that was missing from the 2010 model: a pulsation scale but there are other little details which make this piece a masterstroke. The deep black matte dial, sports white accents marking the sub dials, hours and minute track. The outer railroad minute track is also placed on the flat section of the dial, as opposed to the flange of the 2010 model, and makes use of a 1/5th-minute inner scale, with strategically placed dots marking the hours, with each quarter-hour marked with 3 dots. On the slightly inclined dial flange is the ever-so-important pulsation scale as well as the manufacturer’s name, which has a huge impact on the overall appearance and balance of the dial.
The dial features Alpha hands, full Arabic numerals for the hours and two engine-turned subsidiary dials, which are ever so slightly sunken level from the main dial; recording chronograph minutes and continuous seconds. Again, both make use of railroad track scales, which adds a certain sense sophistication.
Turning a Lange 1815 chronograph over to view the movement through the sapphire-crystal caseback reveals one of the technically most exquisite and at the same time most beautiful chronograph mechanisms ever made. The most astounding thing about this self-wound calibre L951.5 movement has to be its depth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, gazing into a Lange chronograph movement can only be likened to mechanical architectural works of art. Crafted to the highest Lange quality standards, decorated and assembled by hand. Without doubt, the L951.5 is a sight to behold but when the mechanical ballet is awakened you can’t help but be captivated.
The calibre L951.5 chronograph movement makes use of a column-wheel control and a stepped pinion for the precisely jumping minute counter. Of course, one of the highlights of this gorgeous movement is the flyback function, a device found only in very few chronographs but what exactly is it for? This function was mainly used to measure time consecutively, without the need of having to stop the chronograph before using it again. Pilots mainly used timepieces like these, as it saved time and was much easier to use to instantly restart the chronograph via one push, instead of three. With one single push piece, the 1815 chronograph can be stopped and reset in the middle of a time measurement.
In my opinion, the 39.5 mm case is what makes this Lange perfect, it’s no fuss yet simple and functional design is a standout feature. Fashioned out of white-gold, all facets have been polished to a mirror shine with the exception of the middle case section, which has a satin brushed finish.
Like all of Lange’s timepieces the 1815 Flyback makes use of rectangular push pieces, at 2 and 4 o’clock on the case band. The case features a large fluted crown that is the perfect size and has a gratifying feel about it, which is practical when considered it will get used quite often. Covering the dial is anti-reflective sapphire crystal and the same is used on the exhibition case back.
At the beginning, I mentioned whether this is the perfect Lange, in my honest opinion, I do believe it to be. It is everything you want from a classic flyback chronograph and what’s more the re-introduction of the pulsation scale on this black dial makes it a grail chronograph, not just for me but for many alike. Balance wise, it is perfect and though many collectors will still have their heart set on the Datograph, the sleeker package of this 1815 flyback makes it more wearable.
As mentioned when I wore the 2010 example, I admittedly preferred the older version of the 1815 Flyback, simply because of the pulsation scale, which sounded trivial but made all the difference. There was just something more seductive about those original versions with measurement scales. This seduction and allure has been restored with this updated 1815 flyback.
This new white-gold 1815 Flyback Chronograph with a black dial is priced at £40,300, which in comparison to similar chronographs from Patek & Vacheron, is rather impressive.
For more information on the 1815 Flyback Chronograph, visit the official A. Lange & Söhne website.