Hello everyone! In a bid to further diversify some of my content here on Wah So Shiok, I’m happy to announce the start of a new series, Collecting Stories.
After I published the previous articles on my personal watch acquisitions, some came to me and asked if they could submit their own watch purchasing stories to be run on Wah So Shiok. I thought about it, and decided – why not? Wah So Shiok was originally started out of a passion for watches, and I think the Collecting Stories series would help in the website’s goal of spreading a love for horology.
The first instalment in this series features Daniel, who’s perhaps more commonly known by his Instagram handle, @horogenie. Longtime readers might remember him from my discontinued Kopi Talk series, where I interviewed him on his then relatively modest collection. He has taken great strides in his horological journey since then, most recently culminating in purchasing an absolutely stunning pink gold A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1, ref. 191.032. Written by Daniel himself, this is the story behind the acquisition of his grail watch, the Lange 1.
Daniel – My love for the Lange 1
Every hobby has its grails, symbols enthusiasts lust after. In the automotive world, it could be the Ferrari 250 GTO, a Mclaren F1 or a Nissan Skyline R34. Likewise for watches, that could be a Patek, MB&F or perhaps even a Seiko.
The idea of a grail watch tends to change over time, in parallel with one’s shifting tastes. When I first got into watches, my idea of a grail watch was a Rolex. Be it the price point or Rolex’s flashy marketing campaigns, I lusted over the brand’s pieces whenever I saw one. However, as I learned more and dived deeper into the horological world, my idea of a grail gradually went from a Rolex to the Haute Horlogerie brands of Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe, commonly referred to by enthusiasts as the “Holy Trinity”.
Amongst the iconic timepieces that defined the “Holy Trinity”, the one that spoke to me most was the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Its status as one of the most iconic watches of all time eventually led me to acquire a 37mm 15450 Royal Oak (RO). While it was a nice piece to own and interact with – guilty as charged of showing off wrist rolls with the distinctive integrated bracelet – it somehow didn’t sit right with me. Ironically, the initial appeal of its bling became one of the detracting factors. It also became somewhat mainstream as I saw the RO everywhere, be it social media or on the streets. As such, I eventually sold the RO in search of something more unique.
Enter A. Lange and Söhne. I was first introduced to the Lange brand some 3 years back by a prominent local collector of the brand, although Lange timepieces didn’t strike me as particularly handsome or interesting then. At first glance, they appeared to be typical ‘dress watch’ in style, which I wasn’t very keen on as I favoured sports watches – Daytona, Nautilus, Royal Oak, etc.
However, after digging deeper into the brand, I gradually developed a keen interest in the German manufacturer’s timepieces. I grew to love the attention to detail that was present across all of the brand’s watches, such as the hand-engraved balance cock and top-notch finishing. It was beautiful and charming – I’d describe it as a work of art and definitely something you wouldn’t find in most watches, even those at a comparable price point.
As I read more into the brand, the Lange 1 was the piece that jumped out at me. Its asymmetric dial layout was compelling, looking balanced without being balanced. Finishing was top-notch too, with the beautifully adorned 3/4 plate and usual bells and whistles that have become hallmarks of the Glashutte watchmaker. Furthermore, its price point (on the preowned market at least) was something that I could stomach – not cheap by any means, but also not astronomical and was something I could save towards. It thus ticked all my boxes of a ‘grail watch’.
The next hurdle was actually chasing down an example of the Lange 1. Going for a BNIB piece was financially out of the question, so I started searching for preowned examples that fit my budget and buying criteria. I scoured the internet for pieces, even posting a WTB (want-to-buy) post on IG stories every now and then. Weeks and months went by – nothing. Out of the blue, a friend contacted me through IG with a lead. It was an older Lange 1, but the asking price and ‘completeness’ fit the bill. But upon checking it out, I knew it wasn’t the piece for me. Though I wasn’t so bothered by the well-worn and loved condition, the movement literally gave way while I tried to wind it up. It was awkward trying to explain to the seller what had happened – the power reserve hand fell past 0 and wouldn’t go up when turning the crown. The search thus continued.
Fast forward a few months, I was presented with another Lange 1 – a friend was looking to sell due to a lack of wrist time. It was the newer reference 191.032, rendered in pink gold with the updated movement and proportions. Initially, I was worried that its pink gold case would clash with my darker skin tone, having only previously scouted for a yellow gold piece. However, I changed my mind upon trying the pink gold Lange 1 on my wrist. It complimented my tan rather well and looked modern, making the yellow gold variant appear dated in contrast.
The engineering marvel of the L121.1 movement, which succeeded the L901.0 movement in the previous generation Lange 1, also made for a convincing proposition. Notably, it features an instantaneously changing date and a seconds hand that reset to 0 when the power reserve runs out.
After some liquid courage – the watch cost an equivalent of a used car after all – I decided that it was now or never, and took the leap of faith.
And I’ve not looked back since. At 38.5mm, the case sat beautifully on my 6.5” wrist. The heft from its pink gold case feels immensely satisfying, and is a pleasant change from steel watches. Every detail right down to the strap and buckle is wonderfully executed – it wouldn’t surprise me if several aspects were tailor-made for the Lange 1.
Now that the dust has settled, I’m asking myself what’s next. It took me 3 whole years of constant grinding and focused collecting to attain this “grail”, with many pieces having to be sacrificed along the way. Now that it’s occupying prime real estate in my watch box, I feel content and fulfilled. The Lange 1 is pretty hard to trump, and I’m sure it’ll stay that way for some time to come.
Editor’s note: I’ve known Daniel for some time now (ever since I interviewed him for the abovementioned Kopi Talk article in 2018) and am immensely happy that he’s able to acquire his grail watch. He’s had the Lange 1 as his phone wallpaper for the longest time, and I’m glad he’s finally able to own the real watch in the metal. Can’t wait to see what he adds to his collection next – perhaps a Nautilus in due time?
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.