CORRIERE D’ELEGANZA VIConcorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2022
Dear Friends of the Concorso,
This is the tenth time that the Saxon manufactory A. Lange & Söhne is supporting the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. In celebration of this anniversary, Helmut Käs, Head of BMW Group Classic and President of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, talked to Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid about the beginnings of the partnership and the aspects shared by classic cars and mechanical watches.
Helmut Käs and Wilhelm Schmid in conversation at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2021.
Helmut Käs: It’s no secret that you are not just a fan of classic timepieces. You’re also passionate about classic cars. What is your own personal relationship with cars in general?
Wilhelm Schmid: As the son of a car dealer, I have a true family relationship with automobiles. At an early age, I was already driving a lot of different cars and I loved tinkering with them. At the age of 17, I bought a 1964 MGB Mark I Roadster that I still own. I was so passionate about cars that I initially decided to do an apprenticeship as a car mechanic. Afterwards, I went on to complete a degree in business administration and then worked as a manager, including many years with BMW in South Africa. I was always a big BMW fan but I was also a fan of classic watches. When I was appointed CEO of A. Lange & Söhne in 2011, I was able to transform my second big passion into my career. I still like being a weekend mechanic and working on my classic cars but I actually prefer driving around in them – for example going to work. My drive to the manufactory in Glashütte is 35 minutes and takes me through the Ore Mountains.
Eleven years ago, you came to the Concorso d’Eleganza for the first time as a visitor. What impressions did you take home with you after that visit?
When you experience automobile legends in a such a paradisical setting you can only come to one conclusion: If there were something like a heaven for motor cars, it would undoubtedly have huge similarities with the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. Quite simply, the Concorso is an exhibition of metal artistry on wheels. Only the best automobiles are featured, admired by an international public. Its historical significance also makes the Concorso unique because it has been in existence since 1929.
And already in the following year, this experience led to A. Lange & Söhne entering into a partnership with the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in 2012. Where do you see the connection between these two worlds?
Classic cars are more than just a means of transport. The more you get involved in the nuts and bolts, the coachwork, and the history of an automobile, the stronger your personal relationship with the vehicle becomes. The relationship with our watches is similar because you don’t simply wear them on your wrist so that you can tell the time. The artisan craftsmanship, aesthetic appeal, historic heritage and striving for innovation all connect classic cars with classic watches.
Is it a respect for tradition that makes these two areas so unique in this fast-moving age?
It’s not tradition alone. The diversity of the automobiles that we experience at the Concorso is due to the spirit of invention that has inspired people to think beyond the here and now. Nevertheless, I believe that it’s not a contradiction in terms to foster tradition while at the same time looking towards the future. In our manufactory, we are always moving the boundaries of what is feasible while continuing to use traditional methods. We also have our rich tradition to thank for watchmaking innovations like the outsized date in the LANGE 1, the jumping numerals mechanism in the ZEITWERK or the orbital moon phase display of the RICHARD LANGE PERPETUAL CALENDAR “Terraluna”.
The history of A. Lange & Söhne goes back to the year 1845. The name has become a legend. Which production skills are particularly close to your heart?
Our aspiration is to make the best watches in the world. Therefore, we always take the best rather than the easiest path. For example, you will never find a Lange watch that hasn’t been assembled twice. The individual components are decorated with their own specific type of finissage, even if they are hidden deep in the mechanism of the watch. The hand-engraved balance cock is one example of a typical signature feature for our timepieces. Our passion for detail is also demonstrated in the winner´s watch that we have once again created this year exclusively for the winner in the main award class “Best of Show”: a unique version of the 1815 CHRONOGRAPH in white gold. The watch is an expression of our enthusiasm for artisan craftsmanship – independently of whether this art can be found on the tarmac or on somebody’s wrist.
What drives a collector? Where and how do they start searching for the special pieces they desire? Wilhelm Schmid and Helmut Käs talked about these questions at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2021. You can find the Connoisseur Conversation about the passion of collecting on Youtube.
FASCINATING INSIGHTS INTO THE WORLD OF A. LANGE & SÖHNE
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