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A. Lange & Söhne at Audrain Newport Concours and Motor Week 2023

A. Lange & Söhne Draws Lines Between Horology and Luxury Automobiles at Concours d’Elegance

The watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne joined as first-time main partner, representing the event’s attention to engineering excellence and timeless design.

Moving From Craft in Watches to Cars with A. Lange & Söhne

Last fall in Newport, Rhode Island, the Audrain Newport Concours and Motor Week (ANCMW) took place at The Breakers. For the retreat, global automobile enthusiasts brought fine motor craftsmanship for judging across multiple classes, and partook in a full schedule of events. On October 1, that concluded in the crown jewel of the luxury automotive event—the Audrain Newport Concours d’Elegance. For this year’s multi-day edition, the watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne joined as first-time main partner, representing the event’s attention to engineering excellence and timeless design with a number of horological-centered programs and activations.

Concerned with the meticulous crafting of objects that are at once marvelous, timeless, and functional, A. Lange & Söhne’s alignment with Concours d’Elegance saw the house drawing parallels between the two realms of artistry through an array of exclusive experiences and prizes. They included up-close horological experiences with expert watchmakers, explorations of the brand’s renowned timepieces, and the award of prizes featuring hand-engraved golden balance cocks for several of the most noteworthy participants. 

Following Concours d’Elegance, Whitewall spoke with the brand’s CEO, Wilhelm Schmid, at its new boutique in New York City. There, Schmid shared insight into the partnership, what it represents for the brand, and how the relationship represents his own collecting interests.

Wilhelm Schmid, CEO of A. Lange & Söhne

Wilhelm Schmid, courtesy of A. Lange & Söhne.

WHITEWALL: For the first time, the watch brand was the lead partner of Concours d’Elegance in Rhode Island. Why was that an aligned partnership for A. Lange & Söhne?

WILHELM SCHMID: I’m always very specific. Our focus is a concourse of elegance—for a very simple reason. If you look at what’s presented there, it’s usually always handmade. At the time they were made, it was outstanding. Even today, if you look at these cars they still look like nothing else, so they’re timeless, and it requires a lot of skilled people to build them and maintain them today. And they’re usually owned by people who love collecting.

If you look at what we offer, it’s the same: It’s labor-intensive; it requires highly skilled people; it’s based in a rich history. There is a common denominator.

Audrain Newport Concours and Motor Week 2023

Courtesy of A. Lange & Söhne and Audrain Newport Concours and Motor Week.

Collectors Encounter a Meeting of Functionality and Aesthetics in Luxury Cars and Watches

WW: Is it at all about the art behind the craft? The beauty of it?

WS: Our watches are about functionality, but at least as much about aesthetics. And that’s exactly the same for these cars. Yes, they have to drive, they have to work, they have to use indicators, you know, it’s all part of it—but over and above, you see pure beauty, pure art; mechanical art. 

WW: It’s a similar lifestyle.

WS: Yes. It’s collectors, don’t forget. If you go to the house of a collector you will always see that he doesn’t only have one interest. You’re either a collector or not. I have it as well. If you collect, you get addicted.

WW: Would you consider yourself a collector?

WS: For sure, yes. Not a hoarder, but I’m definitely a collector. 

WW: Of more than just watches?

WS: Of watches and cars, yes. For me, that makes perfect sense.

WW: Any certain brands, or do you have a favorite?

WS: No, I like oddballs. Cars that nobody knows too well, but they were important at the time. If it comes to this, I’m not a typical Ferrari collector.

Audrain Newport Concours and Motor Week 2023

Courtesy of Audrain Newport Concours and Motor Week 2023.

Attendees Embark on a Journey of the Beauty Inside the A. Lange & Söhne Universe

WW: In Rhode Island, there was an array of activations for attendees to explore the craftsmanship and the mechanisms. How did that aid to the overall experience?

WS: We had a watchmaker and an engraver there. If you talk to people that assemble the watches or finish the watches, and if you spend a bit of time with them, it gives you access to the universe that you usually do not see because it’s inside.

That quickly will determine whether you will become more interested or not. People like mechanics—cars and watches are quite a nice pair—we found a lot of people who were interested in digging deeper, understanding more, and starting a journey. 

The way to draw you into watchmaking is to understand how very difficult and complicated the whole process is. Because that’s when you start a growing appreciation of what these people do every day. Very suddenly it becomes clear why certain watches ask for a certain price, because you understand it’s down to somebody’s hands that will produce it. And there is nothing more authentic than if that story is told by somebody who is basically doing it every day.

A. Lange & Söhne Boutique NYC

Courtesy of A. Lange & Söhne.

The Luxury of Watches that Endure for Generations

WW: The car owned by Helen and Jack Nethercutt won the Timeless Luxury Award. This is obviously a car, but how would you describe “timeless luxury” in the world of watches?

WS: For me, the most important is timelessness. It’s carrying the set of values that were used to build that object throughout time. And you see that, if you look at important pieces of jewelry, important pieces of art, important watches or cars, you can clearly see the set of value under which it was created. That set of values is as appealing today as it was back in the days when it was created for the first time.

Luxury means it has to be over and above what is necessary. I think that’s the difference between fashion and the illustration of a set of values that will go through time because it will be attractive in generations to come, as it was at the moment it was generated or created.

A. Lange & Söhne at Audrain Newport Concours and Motor Week 2023

Courtesy of A. Lange & Söhne and Audrain Newport Concours and Motor Week 2023.

The Fine Art of Collective Craftsmanship at A. Lange & Söhne

WW: You mentioned a set of values. What are those to A. Lange & Söhne?

WS: Everything we do is about craftsmanship—from having our own school to quality control, and double assembly. We’re very German in very many ways. We love details. As you can see in our boutique, you can experience at our events, that’s how we are. 

We would never bring a watch where you can’t read the time immediately—just to demonstrate a technical gimmick, it wouldn’t be us. Our watches are generally a little heavier because we love robustness. Even very delicate timepieces. They’re all waterproof. They all go through an extensive test to ensure you can wear them. 

We have that value to take care of each other. We are not a family company rightfully, belonging to Richemont, but I think the set of values that we have, you would rather put next to a family company than to a corporate company.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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