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A. Lange & Söhne has lost its mentor
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A. Lange & Söhne has lost its mentor

Wednesday, 18 January 2017
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Franco Cologni
President of the FHH Cultural Council

“Talent demands effort, dedication and hours spent perfecting a gesture which, day by day, becomes a gift.”

An entrepreneur at heart, though a man of letters, Franco Cologni was quick to embark on a business career that would lead him to key roles within the Richemont Group.

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In 2013, we gave him the Hommage à la Passion award in recognition of his dedication and determination. Walter Lange has passed away at the age of 92. He leaves a lifetime’s work that business schools could well study as a textbook case in management. Without Walter Lange, A. Lange & Söhne would never have had the remarkable return to prominence it has enjoyed for the past twenty years.

Born in 1924 and great-grandson of the founder, Walter Lange was destined to take over Lange Uhren GmBH, the family business that was established in Glashütte in 1845, and whose pocket watches were known the world over. The Second World War decided otherwise. The factory was destroyed by bombs on the last day of the conflict, then three years later the company dismantled under the German Democratic Republic. It wasn’t until after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1990, that A. Lange & Söhne was reborn, thanks to the initiative and conviction of Walter Lange and his business partner Günter Blümlein, both confident that the brand had a future.

Time proved them right. Since the launch of the first four A. Lange & Söhne watches in 1994, the brand has established itself as the symbol of Fine Watchmaking in Saxony. These first four models have grown into five collections comprising close to one hundred styles. As for the original team, a handful of people who believed in their project, it has expanded into more than 700 staff around the world. When Walter Lange took the leap of faith needed to give life to his unerring conviction, he was 64 years old. The age when the ordinary man thinks of retirement. Not so Walter Lange. Determined to “never stay still”, he made real his dream to turn A. Lange & Söhne into one of the most respected Fine Watch manufactures.

At the presentation of the Hommage à la Passion award by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, I remember a cheerfully modest man. A man for whom the reputation A. Lange & Söhne now enjoys was a given. It is because it was meant to be, he might have said. Yet behind this form of candour lay extraordinary dedication, an iron will, and an unfailing belief in the values of Fine Watchmaking which, when properly upheld, do miracles. Walter Lange was that sort of man. The A. Lange & Söhne miracle his finest legacy.

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