For the unveiling of its 2017 Handwerkskunst timepiece, prestigious watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne invited SLEEK to Florence for a weekend-long crash course in Tuscan craftsmanship and its relationship to horology. To the average person, it might seem a little odd to celebrate a German luxury watch company in Florence. However, there are more similarities than meets the eye – in addition to sharing status as twin cities since 1978, both Dresden and Florence are culture-packed destinations with an immense passion for craftsmanship. Because of this, honouring the tradition of timekeeping with A. Lange & Söhne in the heart of Tuscany felt like a perfect match.
Eager to learn more about the Dresden-based company and the art of watchmaking, I departed the perpetual greyness of Berlin excited for my upcoming days under the Tuscan sun. Upon landing, I was given a beautiful A. Lange & Söhne watch to call my own – if only for the next few days. From there, it was time to begin the programme.
First up was a visit to the centuries old Marchesi Antinori winery. Founded in 1385, the Antinori family has spent 26 generations perfecting the art of winemaking. With multiple estates spread across Italy, I had the opportunity to visit the Antinori headquarters in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, a vineyard constructed in 2012. Eschewing the traditional architecture of most wineries, the Antinori headquarters is a modern-day marvel nestled in the Tuscan hillside. Dreamed up by architects Laura Andreini, Marco Casamonti, Silvia Fabi and Giovanni Polazzi, this particular estate is where the Antinori family produces its Chianti Classico. A short conversation between Antinori CEO Albiera Antinori and Wilhelm Schmid, CEO of A. Lange & Söhne, preceded a tour of the Chianti Classico cellars, where, in true Italian fashion, many glasses of wine were shared. The drive back to Florence allowed most of us to nap off the slight buzz before continuing on with an evening dedicated to the passion of craftsmanship.
The night began with a blue hour cocktail, named after the time of day when the sky turns a swirl of blue, orange, red and yellow. I was greeted by luminous blue lighting inside the Palazzo Gondi, a palace that I later learned is famous for once housing Leonardo da Vinci while he painted the Mona Lisa.
Finally, the time had come for A. Lange & Söhne to unveil its latest masterpiece. After much anticipation, I was introduced to the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst, an impressive horological complication handcrafted in a limited edition of 20. The sixth model to join A. Lange & Söhne’s Handwerkskunst lineup, this year’s edition is an ode to the moon and the night sky. The white-gold split-seconds chronograph with perpetual calendar and moon-phase display is complimented by blue enamel and 319 relief engraved stars, which adorn the watch’s face. On its backside, the watch features a hinged cuvette of the goddess Luna, the Roman goddess of the Moon. Priced at a cool €290,000, this incredible feat of watchmaking is truly a work of art in its own right.
In addition to the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar Handwerkskunst, A. Lange & Söhne also debuted its elegant Blue Series. Comprising four watches with deep-blue galvanised dials in solid silver and white gold cases, the Blue Series features classic design for everyday wear. Yet another celebration of the night sky, the four watches also pay tribute to the colour blue and its timeless significance within fashion. The evening continued with a dinner in celebration of A. Lange & Söhne’s latest creations, all with breathtaking views of the Florentine skyline.
On my last day of la dolce vita, it was finally time to embark on my afternoon tour of Tuscany’s best kept fashion secrets. Led by menswear fashion consultants Shaka Maidoh and Sam Lambert of Art Comes First, I was accompanied by a cohort of well-dressed gentlemen that included style icons Nick Wooster and Alessandro Squarzi. We started at Super Duper Hats, a millinery founded by Matteo Gioli. There, Matteo walked us through the process of creating a handmade hat while Sam and Shaka grilled him on the finer intricacies. Dedicated towards approaching millinery with tradition and precision, Super Duper Hats is the perfect example of both Florence and A. Lange & Söhne’s ethos of craftsmanship.
As the trip came to a close, my last stop was Liverano e Liverano, a tailoring house founded by Antonio Liverano. Florence has longtime been regarded as the capital of Dandyism, and if this is the case, Antonio Liverano is its king. As one of the most influential people towards the creation of Florentine tailoring style, Antonio has spent over 50 years building his empire. Yet another testament to craftsmanship, each of the tailor’s sartorial creations takes over 70 hours to make. Injecting passion into everything he creates, Antonio is proof that the secret to success is enthusiasm for your craft.
All things must come to an end and after a morning of visiting Florence’s hidden fashion gems it was time to return to Berlin. I was saddened to bid Florence goodbye, but I left with a newfound appreciation for Tuscan craftsmanship, handcrafted excellence and, most of all, immaculate timekeeping.
Scroll through the image gallery below for a deeper look into A. Lange & Söhne’s Florentine weekend dedicated to craftsmanship:
For more information on A. Lange & Söhne please visit alange-soehne.com