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Kit O. Payumo

The Über-Chronograph (Part Deux)

A. Lange & Söhne and one chronograph to rule them all

Like the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, or the next über Burgess Mega Yacht, the A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split is a dream machine, something that isn’t rational or even remotely practical.  How are you supposed to drive a LaFerrari on our pothole-laden streets when a soberingly practical Toyota Corolla will do just fine?  Fortunately, that isn’t the point.

For those not in the know, the Triple Split is the Saxon watchmaker’s level up of their own Double Split, which for years was the ultimate version of the Split Seconds or Rattrapante chronograph. 

In the watchmaking industry there is the simple chronograph, a popular and useful complication.  Complicating matters (pun intended) is the flyback chronograph, which allows for the instant reset and restart of a timing session. 

But at the top of the chronograph food chain is the rattrapante or split seconds chronograph, which allows two chronograph hands to measure two separate objects running at the same time.  Also called the double chronograph, the rattrapante can, thus, ‘save’ the time of one object while still tracking the other, as long as the entire measurement lasts less than 60 seconds.

Which is why, back in 2004, A. Lange & Söhne introduced the Double Split, the world’s first ‘split minutes’ chronograph with a flyback function.  Not only did it feature a split-second function, but also split the 30-minute timer.  So, for the first time, the comparative measurements of events lasting as long as 30 minutes became possible.

In case it wasn’t immediately obvious, the new Triple Split features three rattrapante timers, also with flyback functions.  So, in addition to being able to split the seconds and the minutes, the Triple Split adds a third dimension by being capable of splitting the hours.

This is obviously quite the feat.  Especially when considering that neither the measurement of lap times nor the progression of the precisely jumping minute counter has a negative effect of rate stability.  This is due to a disengagement mechanism developed and patented by A. Lange & Söhne that prevents the normally unavoidable loss of amplitude.

Thankfully, the Triple Split looks almost identical to the Double Split.  Even the colors and overall shape of the case reinforces the singular intention that the watchmakers put into this watch.  A 12-hour counter, however, is added to the Triple Split, while the power-reserve indicator based on Lange’s typical AB/AUF power reserve has moved down to 6 o’clock. 

In passive mode, all hand pairs (sweep seconds, minute and hour counter) are superposed.  As soon as the measurement is started, they all begin to run simultaneously until the rattrapante pusher is pressed to freeze intermediate times.  The three blued-steel hands stop to display lap times while the seconds hand as well as the minute and hour-counter hands continue to run and measure the total time.  A second actuation of the rattrapante pusher causes the three stopped hands to catch up and synchronize with the running hands that continue to measure the duration of the event.

Indeed, its been said that the caliber of the Triple Split is probably “one of the most exuberant movements ever made,” making the Caliber L132.1 look like a living organism with guts upon guts flowing freely over each other.  In fact, with almost no bridges on top, you wonder how it is all held in place.

Not a single part seems to be hidden with every piece lavished with the same loving attention to detail that the Saxon watchmaker is known for.  Each of them, without exception, is decorated by hand and finished with extreme care.

So, just like the howling mad Lamborghini Aventador SV, or the deliriously insane Bugatti Chiron, the limited edition of only 100 pieces A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split is utterly and completely impractical.  In fact, unless you regularly time the 24 Hours at Le Mans, the Triple Split is the very definition of overkill.  It’s like using a grenade to kill a fly; but, WOW, what an explosion that will probably be!

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