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A. Lange & Söhne - Triple Split : the chronograph in search of an application

A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split : the chronograph in search of an application

The Saxon watch brand reaffirms its dominance in split time measurement with the world’s first split chronograph that can measure comparative times from 1/6th of a second up to 12 hours.

The new A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split chronograph joins an exclusive club of watches that have basically been overengineered. The Rolex Deepsea, for example, is water resistant to a depth of 3,900 metres, but the inferior Rolex Sea-Dweller, which is water resistant to 1,200 metres would be more than enough to cope with a world record scuba dive at a depth of “only” 332.35 metres. Anyone who tried to test the limits of the Favre-Leuba Bivouac, which mechanically measures altitude up to 9,000 metres, would not last very long without oxygen. Testing the capabilities of the A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split would involve much less risk to life and limb, but I’m struggling to find a realistic application.

Triple Split : the chronograph in search of an application

Triple Split © A. Lange & Söhne

The German brand helpfully suggests timing two opponents in a Formula 1 race, but lap times here are measured in thousandths of a second and the 1/6th second accuracy of the Triple Split barely covers the satellite delay between any circuit and a Formula 1 team’s HQ. I think it is even more unlikely that someone would, as A. Lange & Söhne suggests, want to use it to time the outbound and return legs of a long-haul flight, unless the entertainment system had gone down and the on-board bar had run dry. Timing long races such as marathons and iron man races seems more plausible, but would you really do this with a limited-edition watch with a heavy white-gold case strapped to your wrist?

Triple Split : the chronograph in search of an application

Case back view © A. Lange & Söhne

It’s a rhetorical question, since the Triple Split is above all else a demonstration of technical expertise. It’s one of the things that the watch industry excels at: continually bettering itself (with the Triple Split, A. Lange & Söhne has broken its own in-house record first set 14 years ago by the Double Split). Mastering three sets of split hands coupled with a flyback function, plus the energy to power them, is a technical masterstroke. A. Lange & Söhne has, for example, developed and patented a special decoupling mechanism in the new Calibre L 132.1 movement so that neither the split-seconds function nor the precise jumps of the minute counter have any adverse effect on balance amplitude.

Triple Split : the chronograph in search of an application

© A. Lange & Söhne

But it’s not just a question of technical innovation. What is almost equally as impressive is that the brand has managed to find a harmonious arrangement on the dial for a total of ten hands and six different graduations that still remains eminently legible and almost belies the technical prowess beneath, especially when the supplementary seconds, minute and hour hands are discreetly hidden beneath their blued-steel counterparts when not in operation.

As with most high-end watches, you choose the Triple Split because of its aesthetics and your affinity with the brand, rather than for its technical accomplishment outright, safe in the knowledge that you can, if you want to, time the outbound and return legs of a long-haul flight, or how much you slept last night to the nearest 1/6th of a second.

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