Saturday, August 1, 2015

Evolution of the Three Quarter Plate - Ferdinand Adolph Lange's Legacy

We all know Ferdinand Adolph Lange developed the signature three quarter plate which is characteristic of most of their timepieces. But how many of us have the opportunity to learn the history of the three quarter plate?

The good people of Lange & Sohne invited us for an event at their boutique at Ion Orchard. Presenting the session was Miss Joanna Lange, Technical & Sales Trainer at Lange, Chris Leung from Lange Hong Kong and Miss Michelle Chen, Head of Lange Singapore.

Joanna brought us through the evolution of the three quarter plate, explaining firstly that the four examples that they brought in to Singapore is the first time these four pocket watches have been taken out from the Lange Museum in Glashutte. The first pocket watches were made by Gutkaes and Lange - Gutkaes being the master of Ferdinand Adolph Lange. Between 1845 to 1855, all pocket watches came with what they classified as triangular plates.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Triangular Plate 1164 01_zpsmehmdkej.jpg

The movement is housed on a double hunter case. This example from the museum is unsigned but the movement shows that this is number 1164 and dated around 1853.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Triangular Plate 1164 02_zpsnqm6lyjj.jpg

The watch is a chronometer as indicated on the first case back.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Triangular Plate 1164 03_zpswmsg4hjk.jpg

And on the outer case back is a hand engraved motif.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Triangular Plate 1164 04_zpsvbkk8q9q.jpg

The front dial is enamel but no signature - just a plain dial.

After the triangular plate, Ferdinand Adolph Lange developed the half plate which he found to be more stable than the triangular plate. Unfortunately, they did not have an example with them. But I was informed by Joanna that the half plate were for watches made between 1855 to 1860. Then came the two thirds plate.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch TwoThirds Plate 5389 03_zps9kvkyyqk.jpg

The two thirds plate was used for pocket watches between 1860 through 1863. A beautiful two thirds plate movement is signed Adolph Lange Dresden. And a beautifully engraved balance cock too.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch TwoThirds Plate 5389 02_zpsjr3p7tpf.jpg

This example also has the enamel dial signed A. Lange Dresden. This piece is dated 1860 with number 5389. Also double hunter case. A pristine example here.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch TwoThirds Plate 5389 01_zpsfivrjiba.jpg

Then came the three quarter plate as we are so familiar today was used in pocket watches from 1864 onwards.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Three Quarter Plate 6199 01_zpsvkvrzls2.jpg

The above example is signed Adolph Lange, Dresden and dated around 1864 and numbered 6199.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Three Quarter Plate 6199 02_zpsbgcihvt3.jpg

The double hunter case of the pink gold pocket watch. Well decorated and beautifully engraved.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Three Quarter Plate 6199 02_zpsbgcihvt3.jpg

And the engraved case back.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Three Quarter Plate 6199 04_zpsgmyvadtp.jpg

And a wonderful enamel dial to show for in this example.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Three Quarter Plate 6199 03_zpswqj0h5xx.jpg

Then there was another example of the three quarter plate dated 1884 and numbered 18061.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Three Quarter Plate 18061 01_zpsiaygf2j4.jpg

Unfortunately, they could not open the case back. So here is the engraved back.
 photo Lange Pocket Watch Three Quarter Plate 18061 04_zps5wxtckty.jpg

Many thanks to the folks at Lange & Sohne for a wonderfully educational evening. It also gives me a different perspective on the piece I own. Here's my blog on my Lange pocket watch. I would also like to thank Manfred in Lange Hong Kong who advised me on the purchase. All photos taken by iPhone.