The most iconic mechanical digital watches ever made comes from the house of A Lange Sohne & IWC with the famous Pall Weber.
Most think of quartz digital displays like the iconic Casio G Shock simply because it lacks hands to tell the time. While most digital watches are affordable quartz pieces with the familiar electronic display. We need to understand where the word digital originated from before talking about the iconic Zeitwerk & how a mechanical watch can be digital in the same time.
When thinking of the word you will immediately recognize digits in the name. In regards to watches this means displaying the time using digits rather than hands. The word digital originated back in the 15th century & it derived from the Latin word digitus which means number. Essentially bringing us to the conclusion that the word digital has nothing to do with the mechanism powering the watch, but instead has to do with the way we read the time.
As you might expect, creating a fully mechanical watch with no electronic properties assisting it is very challenging. Brands like Lange had to use a complicated system called a remontoire to hold and release power precisely every 60 seconds. This allows the minutes display to flip over perfectly every 60 seconds which ultimately means the watch will keep accurate time.
In typical Lange fashion, you get an incredibly over engineered piece of art. A watch finished to an astonishing level that you could only find with the top brands in the world.
The Zeitwerk is mechanical marvel but first…. What exactly are we looking at? At a glance, the watch seems complicated & to be honest a little intimidating to look at. But as soon as you realize what each window and subdial does, you then realize the genius behind the design.
The window on the left tells you the hours, the window on the right gives you the minutes, the subdial on the bottom gives you the seconds and finally the subdial on the top lets you know how much you’ve got left of that 36 hours of power reserve.
While 36 hours might not seem impressive on paper. As you might have guessed, the amount of energy that is needed to have the minutes leap every 60 seconds and once every hour is very challenging. For Lange to even achieve 36 hours is very impressive in this instance.
The way Lange was able to regulate the amount energy needed is by making a special escapement in between the barrel and balance wheel. As mentioned, the disk that changes the minutes gets power from the remoitore that releases it accurately every 60 seconds.
The architecture and finishing on the L 043 as we expect from the brand…. is pure art and luxury. The patina of the German silver plates provide a warm and relaxing look to the high-end finishing and hand engraving on the L.043 caliber.
Wearing this piece was an absolute pleasure, the white gold case gave the watch a nice heft to it & the 41.9mm by 12.6 thickness made the watch sit comfortably on my 6 1/2 inch wrist. From a distance I used to always think the Zeitwerk was a piece to wear for special occasions. That said, after handling the watch & really getting to know it. This watch is more than capable of being an everyday piece, not to mention reading the time is not only an experience with the Zeitwerk… But it is arguably one of the most legible watches ever made.