Thursday, February 04, 2016


A. Lange & Sohne makes some unquestionably beautiful movements, and the Glashutte-bred brand is considered one of the world's finest.  But, as we've mentioned to you before, Lange went through a forty year period of dormancy after the brand's property was expropriated to the pro-Stalin government of East Germany, along with several of the other Glashutte watch manufacturers.  But, for the first few years of the GUB (Glashütter Uhrenbetrieb), the Government-run conglomerate of Glashutte watch makers known for some pretty unexceptional pieces (Eastern block Germany was vehemently opposed to all things luxury), they used a pretty exceptional caliber.  Caliber 28 and 28.1 as they are known, was so exceptional because it was, in fact, a movement designed and built by A. Lange & Sohne themselves - the first and only wristwatch caliber from Lange not only built before the division of Germany, but before the rebirth of the brand and subsequent introduction of the Lange 1 in 1994.  Here is the rest of the story.
A. Lange & Sohne produced some spectacular pocketwatches throughout its history.  Those of the highest caliber, denoted with "1A" on the movement, are still highly sought after by collectors today.  In the 1930s, Lange began to recognize the future wristwatches may hold to the industry.  But, they simply did not have a movement of their own that would work in a wristwatch.  So, they partnered with Swiss company Altus to create some early Lange wristwatches.  The movement in these were an Altus caliber, but finely finished by A. Lange & Sohne.  Lange did use some other Swiss movements in their watches throughout the 1930s and early 40s as well, but remember, these were not in-house Lange calibers.
An Early Lange Wristwatch - Though The Movement Is Swiss Made
The Lange caliber 48, the large and reliable movement the brand had developed as a pocketwatch movement for its pilot watches, seemed like the perfect base for what would be the German mark's first wristwatch caliber - and it was.  The creation of Caliber 28 took place in the mid to late 1940s and the result would be the first truly in-house Lange wristwatch movement.  But, the Lange brand was handed over to the DDR in 1948, along with all of its machines, employees and factories.  The Caliber 28 was, however, put into production as the GUB recognized the quality of the movement and they used it for years to come.  You will find early Lange Caliber 28's inside watches signed "Lange VEB" on the dial.

A Lange VEB wristwatch with Caliber 28 (it should be noted this dial has been refinished)From 1948-1951, Lange VEB produced only 5,067 watches with with the caliber 28 movement inside.  The 28 features a subsidiary seconds register.  Original Lange VEB watches with Lange signed movements are increasingly difficult to find, especially outside of Germany.
A Very Clean Original Lange 28 Movement - Notice the "Q1" denotation
After 1951, the Lange VEB company was enveloped by the GUB.  Still, the quality of the caliber 28 was recognized and the use of caliber 28.1 (the same caliber with central sweep seconds) was put into use in the GUB's higher-end watches.  While both the dial and movements of these watches were signed "GUB," the caliber was marked as "28 Q1", and these were produced by the former employees of Lange & Sohne.  The "Q1" marking, which you'll see on both Lange VEB and GUB watches with the Cal 28 inside translates to "A1", meaning they contain movements of the highest standards, just like you'd see on older Lange pocket watches.  (Does anyone else see the irony in communist Germany purposefully labeling some of their products as of greater quality than the rest?)

A GUB Made Wristwatch With Caliber 28.1
GUB continued the production of watches with the Cal 28.1 through 1957 and produced 16,396 units.  These too are extremely difficult to locate (your best bet would be taking a trip to Dresden).  After Caliber 28.1 was retired, the GUB went on to create many of their own calibers that simply pailed in comparison to the Lange 28.  Also, you may see GUB watches for sale but the odds that they contain a Caliber 28 is unlikely.  While there was a total of only ~21,000 Cal 28 and 28.1s, the later GUB calibers had the following production numbers:

GUB Cal. 60 (1952-58): 280,410 pcs.
GUB cal. 62 (1951-58): ca. 191,900 pcs.
GUB cal. 63 (1953-59): ca. 361,149 pcs.
GUB cal. 67.1 (1960-67): 190,360 pcs.
GUB cal. 69.1 (1960-71): 411,750 pcs.
GUB cal. 70.1 (1960-71): 388,820 pcs
GUB cal. 74 "Spezimatik" (1964-80) 1.857,966 pcs.
GUB cal. 75 (1964-80): 1.858,466 pcs.
GUB cal. 77 (1959-70): ca. 181,101 pcs.
GUB cal. 11-26 "Spezichron" (1978-85): ca. 290,880 pcs.

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