Noelle now works in the core department of Lange-the movement department. His daily work is to deal with tiny parts and complex watchmaking technology. ‘Every component produced is a product that meets the standards of precision engineering. They are mechanical objects. But the assembly requires traditional craftsmanship, every watch The precision of the watch ultimately depends on the instinct of the watchmaker. ‘
Ralph Knoll, young watchmaker at Lange
Ralph Noel sits on a high watchmaking table, wearing eyepieces, and submerging himself to assemble an unfinished watch movement. There are more than 400 parts that are only a few tenths of a meter in size. Complex forms are linked to each other. Even when wearing eyepieces, he still had to keep his eyes closer to the table, no more than 5 cm. ‘Each part must be fixed in its own position in strict accordance with certain parameters, and a mistake may be abandoned.’ Noell told reporters.
Noir is 28 years old. He is the watchmaker of Germany’s top watch brand Lange. In 2013, he moved his workshop to the scene at the International Salon of Fine Watches in Geneva.
Not all students can laugh to the end
Noel graduated from the Karlstein Technical School in Austria, a school specialized in the training of watchmakers, formerly known as the Royal Watch Academy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, founded in 1873. At the beginning of the 19th century, many watchmaking family workshops were active in Waldweiter on the border between Austria and the Czech Republic. These workshops produced 140,000 watches each year, and were sold to the entire Austro-Hungarian Empire by mobile merchants. With the upsurge of watchmaking, the School of Watchmaking emerged. Walter Lange, the fourth generation member of the Lange family and founder of Hyundai Lange, also graduated from this school. He is the school’s ‘star alumni’.
Today, this technical school has four departments, two of which are directly related to watchmaking technology: one is the Vocational Training Department, which provides short-term training for watchmaking apprentices for 5 to 10 weeks; one is the School of Watchmaking Technology, Noel attended this college. This college trains students on how to make and replace watch parts, how to repair old watches, how to restore and refurbish watch cases, and how to assemble watch parts.
‘Many of my classmates are handmade and assembling masters.’ Noel said. A male student will sew a ball, a small cloth ball needs a dozen pieces of shredded cloth; another female student’s hand-made metal soap box car won the second place in the school’s soap box racing competition; Noel likes disassembling old watches. He often goes to flea markets to find old watches, disassembles the case, removes the parts, and slowly assembles the parts back based on memory.
Noel studied at this college for four years. His graduation ceremony is to take a ‘technical qualification exam’. After passing the exam, he will receive a qualification certificate issued by the Austrian government. ‘Obtaining this certificate is easy to find a job because our exams are difficult and authoritative, and there is a great demand for watchmakers in Switzerland, Germany and elsewhere.’ The college’s website reads this.
The more complex the movement and the more components, the more likely it is that the movement will lose its accuracy. The only way is to debug, debug and debug.
The Karlstein Institute of Technology is the only watch school in Austria, and more watch schools in Switzerland. The first watch school in Switzerland has a longer history than ‘Karlstein’. Founded in Geneva in 1824, it was established at the request of a local watch factory to provide skilled watchmakers for watch factories in short supply. Today, Swiss watch schools are mainly concentrated in the famous ‘Clock Valley’ in the Jura Mountains. There are six watch schools in Bill, Geneva, Le Roque, Le Sentier, Prenzlut and Grenzen. Students graduate with a federal certificate.
Large watch companies also have their own watch schools. Lange established a watchmaking academy near the watch factory in the German headquarters of Glashütte in 1997, mainly to train Lange’s ‘reserved talent’. Students from this college perform well and have the opportunity to intern at Lange. However, students must first pass a ‘competency test’, passing the testers, said ‘is very suitable for the watch industry’.
Not all watchmaking students can laugh to the end. Some cooperative watchmaking companies will worry that the knowledge learned in the watchmaking school will be too theoretical and give up cooperation, and some students will lose their jobs as soon as they graduate. Among Knoll’s classmates, there were those who slipped away after half of their studies. ‘Rather than worrying about rice bowls, they can’t stand the loneliness that can’t be disturbed for a long time.’
Each watch component is a mechanical object that meets engineering standards, but is assembled using traditional techniques. The accuracy of the watch depends on the instinct of the watchmaker.
Every watch knows who made it
In 2001, representatives of the Lange Company came to the school to recruit people, and Noel and many students signed up to apply. In many watch schools in Europe, there are two ways for students to graduate. Most are employed by large watch companies, and a few choose to go it alone and become independent watchmakers.
Noel and a few of his classmates were invited to Lange’s watchmaking factory for a two-day visit to the small city of Glashütte near Dresden, Germany.
‘Langer is a household name in Glashütte,’ Noel said. Lange was founded in 1845 by Ferdinando Adolf Lange in the town of Glashütte and was originally known for making pocket watches. At that time, the economy of the Glashütte region was declining and people were living in poverty. The establishment of Lange saved the economy of the area and laid the foundation for the development of German precision watchmaking. As a result, Ferdinando Adolf Lange was elected Chief Executive of the town of Glashütte in 1848, serving for 18 years. Lange’s customer list includes Emperor William II and Bavarian King Ludwig II.
Ferdinando Adolf Lange’s most well-known invention was the creation of three-quarters of the splint, that is, the entire splint is missing a corner, and 66 parts are fixed on the upper base plate to carry the time wheel train. This is a big difference between Lange and Swiss watches. Swiss watchmaking is usually a movement splint. Noel said that Langer’s three-fourths of the splint are more labor-intensive, but “higher accuracy and stability”, “the Swiss Observatory’s standard: the daily error of male watches is between -4 and +6 seconds, The table is between -5 and +8 seconds, while Lange is controlled at 2 seconds. ‘
In 1948, Ferdinando Adolf Lange’s great-grandson, Walter Lange worked as a watchmaker at Lange. At that time, the town of Glashütte belonged to East Germany. One day, a government official and two union representatives came to the company. They announced that the company was nationalized and Walter Lange was forced to serve in the uranium mine. He fled to West Germany overnight, and for the next 42 years, Lange disappeared from the watchmaking world.
In 1990, the Berlin Wall was toppled, and Walter Lange returned to the town of Glashütte, where he planned to rebuild Lange. IWC’s then president, Günter Blumenle, was a friend of Walter Lange and the two rebuilt the Lange watch factory.
Four years later, Lange’s first watch, ‘Lange 1’, was unveiled. The eccentric dial layout, big calendar, etc. are all patented for this watch. ‘Lange 1’ has earned Lange an international reputation. Since then, Lange has also developed the ‘Sesame Chain’ transmission system that was first deployed on the watch, developed its own movement, and created its own balance spring. In the world of ‘Made in Switzerland’ absolute absolute strength, Lange is one of the few non-Swiss top watchmaking.
Some haute horlogeries rely on diamond inlays, while Lange focuses on the complication of the movement. In the 2013 Geneva Watch & Clock Salon, Lange launched the world’s limited edition of six watches ‘GRAND COMPLICATION’, no luxury diamonds on the watch. By means of a beeping device that can make big and small self-sounding sounds, a minute repeater device, a dual chase chronograph with an integral dial and 1/5 jumping seconds, a perpetual calendar with a moon phase display, ten types of display, eight types Features become the ‘most’ of the salon: each sells for € 1.92 million.
Noel recalled the two days he visited in the town of Glashütte, and he was impressed by a scene so far-the factory’s decorative carving workshop, the room can only accommodate five or six desks, and the photos of five sculptors were solemnly hung on the On the wall, they are responsible for decorating the patterns. The watchmaker told him that even if time passed, each watch could be identified by the watchmaker’s hand.
Love for the complex world
Noel eventually became a member of the Lange company. At the age of 23, Noel and another colleague assembled the Tourbograph series, which was known by the industry as the ‘most complicated’ watch in the world at the time. ‘Sesame chain’ is a car chain shape, such as a thick mechanical transmission chain. A ‘sesame chain’ consists of 636 parts and 212 links. All the links must be free to move to ensure the movement of the movement is accurate.
Noir initially worked in Lange’s adjustment department, and later was responsible for assembling the ‘double-tracking needle’ with complex functions. When Lange decided to make a Tourbograph, he was selected as a watchmaker to assemble. Prior to assembly, he spent half a year studying and training in assembly, and finally, when all the parts were ready, assembly started officially, which took 1 month. Lange produced only 12 watches of this series at that time.
Unlike other top Swiss watches, every watch in Lange’s workshop is reassembled.
The first assembly is to ensure the smooth operation of more than 600 parts of the movement, and the assembly of a Lange large calendar display device, perpetual calendar device and timing device with 66 parts. The assembly of the complicated tourbillon speed regulating device ‘Tourbillon’ is also completed at this stage. After the first assembly is completed, the movement is disassembled and cleaned, and the second assembly and precise adjustment are performed.
In Noel’s view, secondary assembly is not a redundant process: ‘Even in the most cautious cases, parts may still be slightly scratched during the adjustment process, or small dust may penetrate between the gaps of the movement. Flaws, which may affect the accuracy of the movement. ‘
Noel now works in the core department of Lange-the movement. His daily job is to deal with tiny parts and complex watchmaking techniques: ‘The more complex the movement, the more components it needs to engage. The more components, the smaller the space available for movement, the more the machine will be added. The possibility that the core loses its accuracy. The only way is to debug, coordinate, and then debug and coordinate each independent component. ‘
Noelle married a female watchmaker, and his wife is also from Austria. They graduated from the same watchmaking school and have the same passion for the complex world of watchmaking: ‘Every component produced is a product that meets precision engineering standards They are mechanical objects. But the assembly requires traditional craftsmanship. The precision of each watch ultimately depends on the instinct of the watchmaker. ‘