Saxon engineering prowess

Industrial pioneers Ferdinand A. Lange and August Horch both incorporated companies, albeit nearly sixty years apart. However, what the two entrepreneurs have in common is so astonishing that one is tempted to assume that a “Saxon pattern” exists. The quest for continuous improvement encouraged them to do things in their own way and in both cases, the results were stunning technical accomplishments and influential premium brands.

Dresden watchmaker Ferdinand A. Lange, who was born in 1815, and mechanical engineer August Horch, 53 years his junior, never met. But their passions, ideals and visions were so similar they would have got along well with one another. Ferdinand A. Lange’s dream of the “world’s finest watches” is an analogy of August Horch’s principle of “building cars exclusively with first-class materials”. What they also shared was the unfaltering pursuit of unprecedented technical achievements. As mechanical design innovators, they can both take credit for milestones in Saxony’s engineering heritage.

In 1845, for instance, Lange introduced the metric system to German watchmaking. And the three-quarter plate made of German silver, which he developed in 1864 to improve the stability of movements, remains one of the key hallmarks of A. Lange & Söhne watches to this very day. Horch provided significant impetus for the refinement of automotive engineering with inventions like the first six-cylinder engine in 1907, shifting the engine forward for better weight distribution and introducing the drive shaft to replace the cumbersome belt drive systems. Thus, both entrepreneurs can be deemed fathers of technical progress and industrial development in Saxony. Thanks to their ideas and innovations, their influence on the companies they founded has extended far beyond their time.

Ferdinand A. Lange’s intellectual heritage lives on in A. Lange & Söhne’s current timepieces. The tradition-steeped 1815 RATTRAPANTE PERPETUAL CALENDAR and the classic 1815 UP/DOWN are just two examples. Our photos show them with exhibits from the August Horch Museum Zwickau: with a 14/40 HP Horch four-cylinder engine, which dates back to 1919, and a 1936 Auto Union racing car Type C, one of the most successful German Grand Prix racing cars of all time. The so-called “Silver Arrow from Zwickau” set over 30 world records. The speed record of 380 kilometres per hour in an open road race still stands today and testifies to the capabilities of Saxon engineers.

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