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Historical Capital, Jar Collecting and Chronoswiss - The Lang 1943 Field Watch Edition One

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Lang 1943 is a new brand with a heritage borrowed from a man that has it to spare

What makes a watch desirable?

On the surface, this seems like a question with an obvious answer. But when you think more deeply on it, you realise that ‘desirability’ is a more complex concept than it seems. There’s one aspect of brand desirability that stands out as more important than most, History.

Brands that have It are lauded and brands that don’t, try hard to make it seem like they do. History is a valuable asset.

I call it ‘historical capital’, and big brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe cash in on it all the time. It’s the idea that history can be quantified, and has a value beyond the origin stories and founders images depicted on the brands websites. It’s the feeling you get when you wear something that’s been around for a long time, it’s a staying power that newer brands just don’t have.

But what about these new brands?

In a classic chicken or the egg situation, young companies need to create their own history to draw upon, but also need to be successful enough to be able to create that history in the first place. These two sides of the coin don’t always work together. Short-term financial gains don’t always lead to long term historical capital. So what’s to be done?

Can a new brand manufacture its heritage and leapfrog its way into the minds and hearts of history – loving traditionalists?

Let’s find out.

Lang 1943

Launched by Georg Bartowiak, founder of ChronoSeven, a watchmaking consulting firm with a website that’s straight out of the nineties, Lang 1943 is a new brand with a heritage borrowed from a man that has it to spare, Gerd-Rüdiger Lang.

Gerd-Rüdiger Lang and Georg Bartowiak
Gerd-Rüdiger Lang and Georg Bartowiak

Who is Gerd-Rudiger Lang

The legendary founder of Chronoswiss, Gerd-Rüdiger Lang, has a career that is littered with technical firsts. He created the world’s first serially manufactured regulator-style wristwatch, the first automatic chronograph with off-centre display of the hours and minutes, and the first serially manufactured, automatic, skeletonised chronograph.

Gerd-Rüdiger Lang
Gerd-Rüdiger Lang
The Chronoswiss Opus Chronograph
The Chronoswiss Opus Chronograph

Now if you get specific enough with a product, you too can make the first of something, this is the world’s first blog called the Subdial that’s written by me, for example. But, one thing Lang contributed that cannot be argued against, is the first industrialised use of the sapphire case back.

Unfortunately, Gerd-Rüdiger Lang passed away in March of this year. He left behind an impressive legacy that has seen the birth of Chronoswiss in the 1980s, and now, thanks to Georg Bartowiak, the birth of Lang 1943 in 2022.

The Lang 1943 Field Watch Edition One

The first in what I hope is a series from Lang, the Field watch Edition 1 is a 39 mm manually wound slab of perfection. Yes, the watch journalist thinks the small, simple watch on a strap is perfection. I’m a stereotype, get over it!

The Lang 1943 Field Watch Edition One
The Lang 1943 Field Watch Edition One

Considering its ‘heritage’ I was looking for some similarities to past Chronoswiss models, but I came up short. Looking at their website for the first time in… forever, I realised that the Chronoswiss of today is very much a departure from their more classically styled heritage. That's not to say they’ve lost their way, it’s still a brand with impressive technical ability, just look at the Opus Chronograph, for example. It just means that the Field Watch Edition 1 is totally its own thing, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

The Marvin 700, A Movement From Yesterday.

In the early 90s, Lang (the man) acquired a batch of vintage Marvin movements for, well, keeping?

Reminds me a bit of when old men collect jars for that day in the future when they’re going to make jam. Does anyone else’s dad do that?

These movements were preserved and are now in the possession of Lang (the brand) to be restored and modified for their first series of watches.
It’s a hand wound mechanical movement with a really nice finish. It looks vintage without looking a little too ‘vintage’, if you know what I mean.
Likewise, it’s honest and looks great for the money. Even sporting a sharp internal angle on the bridge just below the balance wheel. This is the kind of finish treatment you see on watches much pricier.

The Lang 1943 Field Watch Edition One, caseback.
The Lang 1943 Field Watch Edition One, caseback.

The finished caliber, modified by Lang, is on display through the sapphire case back, a detail you can be proud of considering Gerd’s involvement in commercialising the technology in the 80s.

A Dial of Honesty

At first glance, the (not so) small seconds feel a little too big, but as you look at it, the balance from top to bottom becomes obvious. If it were any smaller, you would lose that legibility focus and the form follows function aesthetic. It is a field watch, after all.
The dial is humble, but it nails the basics with a fumé treatment and simple, printed lume.

The Lang 1943 Field Watch Edition One, dial.
The Lang 1943 Field Watch Edition One, dial.

What they did well that so many brands don’t is the relationship between the bezel and the dial. The size of each and how they interact is, in my opinion, the only non-subjective aesthetic detail on a watch (Come at me).
An aggressive claim for sure, but believe me, now that i’ve told you about it, the number of watches you see that are off will shock you.

The proportions of the Edition 1 are just right, Fibonacci would be proud. ( F[n-1] + F[n-2])

The Philosophy of Lang 1943

The watch is a case study on whether history can affect desirability in an object.

Patek has 180 years of heritage, but how much of it actually makes you want a Nautilus? To a certain extent, it wouldn’t exist if the history wasn’t there, Gerald genta wouldn’t have designed It, or maybe it would have been for someone else entirely. The Seiko Nautilus just doesn't have the same ring to it.

With Lang 1943 we have the unique opportunity to see a brand that is in its infancy, while also benefiting from a long history that isn’t limited to its name. It’s one that goes deep into the heart of the watches and the DNA of the brand.

A Lang in the wild
A Lang in the wild

I’ve always loved old things, well, most old things. I hurt my back putting my shoes on today, so maybe not all old things are good…
I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something tangible that history brings, it’s a solidity and sense of permanence, perhaps.
The past teaches us that if an object has lasted, it will probably keep lasting for years to come. Humans are attracted to that.

The Edition One in profile
The Edition One in profile

Lang 1943 has successfully cemented their place in modern history. But it’s not all about the name, it pays tribute too.
The edition 1 stands on its own as a watch with character, and what it lacks in real ‘heritage’, it makes up for in thoughtfulness. It could easily have been found in the back of your grandfathers' attic, and I love it for that.

So yes, history does affect desirability. After researching this article, I can tell you that the desire is strong.

My god do I want one.

Order your Edition One and find out more about Lang 1943 HERE, feel free to pick one up for me too if you like...

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