November 9, 1989 completely changed Lange’s fate. The fall of the Berlin Wall allowed Walter Lange to revive the family business that had been forced to suspend. Lange never thought that one day he could make a comeback in his hometown of Glashütte and complete a special task-revitalizing the fine watchmaking industry in Saxon. Those who used to be with Lange once again witness the coming of historical moments today.
Two photos five years apart: the former was taken on November 9, 1989, and the crowd was at the Brandenburg Gate
Celebrating the reopening of the gate on the Berlin Wall in front of (Brandenburg Gate);
The latter was taken on October 24, 1994, and Lange launched it in the Dresden Palace.
The first watch collection in the new era of Saxony fine watchmaking.
The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of a political struggle. Although Glashütte is far from the center of the political whirlpool, this small town on the southeast end of the former German Democratic Republic clearly felt the shock on November 9, 1989.
Annett Cellar, who was in charge of financial accounting at the time, was one of Lange’s first employees after the reconstruction, and she followed the development of the situation nervously in front of the TV. She recalled that when a reporter asked when the new rules on freedom of travel would take effect, the moment an exhausted civil servant replied ‘immediately,’ she thought she had heard it wrong. Later, a friend called her one after another to make her sure it was true. ‘We can hardly believe it,’ she said. Watchmaker Ursula Göhlert was equally shocked. ‘We have to adapt to this new beginning. In Berlin, which is divided into two worlds by the wall, people have felt the division of the country more effectively.’
The people of East and West reunited under confusion and joy. Gudrun Pahl, who now works in customer service, understands the storm from a Western perspective. When she saw photos of people swarming across the border, she really understood the beginning and end of the incident. Britta Bäurich, who works in the sales department, is like most people. After learning about the fall of the wall through the news, he has ‘an indescribable feeling’ and excitement. Can not help but be mixed with doubt. Christoph Schlencker, the head of the testing laboratory, recalled: ‘At the time, we were worried that the gates would close again. A few days later, things became clear: the gates really reopened. . ‘
Earlier Lange employees were: Helmut Geyer, Annette Sina, and Christoph Schlusky
Many people travel to Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart in the west or visit long-distance relatives immediately after travelling freely. But soon the question arises: what to do next? Design engineer Helmut Geyer set his sights on the declining watchmaking industry in Glashütte. Since the late 1970s, the former state-owned watchmakers have been producing quartz watches only, but in a market economy, these products are not competitive. Benito Lukas, the current director of the Lange Erosion Center, said: ‘The wave of layoffs was one after the other.’ He was one of the first victims, because he was young and not yet married. Several other employees, including Ursula Glet, were idle at the time.
When Walter Lange expressed his intention to make watches again in Glashütte and hire employees for the new watch factory, news spread. Lange’s name still has a special meaning here. This is not only because of the brand’s long history and high prestige in the region, but more importantly, after Walter Lange was forced to flee to West Germany, he has always managed to keep in touch with the residents of his hometown of Saxony. Annet Sina’s grandfather used to make pocket watch movements for Lange, so after receiving the news, he hoped that his granddaughter could apply for a new Lange company. As for Helmut Geyer, he returned to be able to design complex mechanical watches again. Ursula Gelert also applied with the encouragement of her husband, although she initially had doubts as to whether she could meet the strict requirements of the company.
Because East German training has always focused on manual skills, new employees at Lange have a good knowledge of mechanical watches. However, to make a watch priced over 10,000 marks in this new federal state, they could not fully adapt for a while. Therefore, the first step is to send employees to Switzerland to receive on-the-job training at sister company IWC, to understand the special requirements of advanced watchmaking. This includes superb sculptural and decorative techniques as well as computer-aided design. But most importantly, Günter Blümlein, Walter Lange’s business partner, persuaded this group of Saxon watchmaking pioneers to use bold design ideas and encouraged them to devote themselves to this. In a unique plan.
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, people’s memories of time were hazy. The first Lange building was also depressed before it was renovated.
This is where the first female watchmakers made their watches in 1991
After the training returns, they have to face the harsh reality again. The town of Glashütte lacked work equipment at the time, and everything had to start from scratch. At first there was only one computer-aided design workstation in the design office, and Helmut Goyer had to work in shifts with colleague Annegret Fleischer. The brand’s first plan was to make LANGE 1. Since it was decided from the beginning to adopt an asymmetrical dial design and an eye-catching large calendar display, developing a matching movement became the task of two designers. However, the design principle of the new large calendar display is not simple. The device must pass several tests to function reliably. At the same time, experienced designers need to suspend the design of the first watch movement and personally measure the size of the new room with a ruler. This is because the historic building that produced the Strasser & Rhode precision pendulum clock did not leave any architectural plans, and the building must be adjusted to meet the latest architectural requirements.
At first there was no heating system either. In the winter, employees bring paraffin heaters from their homes for heating. However, from time to time, the old circuit system may cause the fuse to blow out due to excessive power. Despite the difficulties in the start-up phase, everyone’s excellent professionalism and deep knowledge base quickly came into play. In just four years, the first legendary Lange watch series was officially launched. Every piece of this watchmaking town marks the beginning of a new era.
Walter Lange took a group photo with the first four watches of contemporary Lange on October 24, 1994.
Of which LANGE 1 made Lange famous
October 24, 1994 was a decisive day. The first four watches LANGE 1, SAXONIA, ARKADE and TOURBILLON ‘Pour le Mérite’ are subject to strict inspection by professional journalists and franchisees. After many rehearsals, this conference was meticulous and perfect. Everything is ready and under control, and only outside reactions are unpredictable. In the end, 123 watches sold out within a few minutes, and the last three were decided by lot. Outside the door of this important press conference, Lange employees were anxiously waiting for the results. When they heard the exciting news that ‘wholesale of watches were sold,’ everyone could not help but breathe a sigh of relief.
‘That feels wonderful,’ said Ursula Gelert. That night, Annette Sina and Britta Baruch sat together to fill out the first bills.
Such a proud achievement was unexpected. These handmade Lange watches are instantly appreciated by collectors and enthusiasts. A small team of people that day has grown into a multinational company with operations in 62 countries. These four new era watches have also created 5 extraordinary watch series, with more than 70 models. This success story has made Lange a model for many watch companies. Walter Lange, who celebrates his 90th birthday this year, sums it up: ‘What makes me most satisfied is to be able to personally witness the town of Glashütte once again becoming the center of German watchmaking.’ What is firmly believed is: ‘As long as our watchmakers insist on creating the best watches in the world, Lange can go higher and further.’