Lange Arkade, white gold

The movement of the Lange Arkade is designated L-911, indicating that its conception dates back to 1991, and it is thus the first movement designed by the reincarnated Lange firm following those used in their unique initial offering, the Lange One, and its relative, the Tourbillon "Pour le Merite". Although apparently briefly used to power their Saxonia model, Lange clearly dedicated the design of the 911 for use in this ladies' model, and it probably postdates the last such mechanical movement produced by a major watchmaking house by 2 decades, and the last such shaped movement by another 20 years.

The dimensions of the 911 are 25.6mm by 17.6mm, just about 2mm all around smaller than the Arkade's case, and 4.95mm thick. Packed into this compact space, it is not shortchanged by comparison with any the Lange's "full-sized" movements; its layout was deemed satisfactory to be used in the Caberet's rectangular caliber, it incorporates the signature Large Date, its power reserve is a very respectable 42 hours, and the balance wheel is substancially larger than that of the 901. In fact, I am not at all convinced that the 941 and 942 (of the of the Saxonia and 1815, respectively) movements are not similarly derived, suggesting that since it is the first and the smallest, the Arkade's 911 might be considered the most sophisticated of this group of four, further cementing Lange's commitment to offering a ladies'-sized watch competitive with the best in the world. It runs at 21.6 kbph, and exhibits all the expected Lange design touches: thorough jeweling (30), screwed balance with engraved cock and goose-neck fine adjustor, and brilliant red rubies, gold chatons and deeply blued screws.

While the case is only 6.4mm thick, the size (29mm high by 22mm wide) and angular design lend it that typical Lange chunkiness, and it is polished on all surfaces. The date adjustor requires use of a pointer (a la the Little One and Cabaret), hands and markers are all of white gold, and the coated silver dial incorporates a slightly-sunken, concentrically engraved seconds subdial. The front and rear crystals are flat, and the crown is large and easy to grasp. On a personal note, I decided to purchase this watch for my wife after finding myself thoroughly charmed by my own Lange watches, and further that I didn't want it to be just another piece of mechanical jewelry. For this reason, I chose the color combination of my 1815 model, and because it has the plain, rather than jeweled, bezel, I have emphasized to her that although it is a fine watch, perhaps the finest current-production ladies' watch available, it is understated and durable enough for everyday wear. If for some reason this line of thinking fails, I can take comfort in the realization that the Arkade's dimensions would make it entirely at home amongst the rectangular watches typical of 50 or 60 years ago, designs I am also fond of, and which fit my smallish wrist quite well...

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June 25, 2002

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