A. Lange & Söhne’s 1815 watch family bears its name in reminiscence of the founder of Saxony’s precision watchmaking industry, Ferdinand A. Lange, who was born in Dresden in 1815. The year marks a turning point in European history: Napoleon lost his last battle at Waterloo. The Congress of Vienna created a new world order. On the new map, the Kingdom of Saxony shrank to a third of its original size. But the Saxons compensated for this loss of political influence by promoting education, art and culture. The Dresden Botanical Garden, founded in 1815, is a manifestation of this period of scientific enlightenment in the early 19th century, during which Ferdinand A. Lange was also later to make his entrepreneurial vision come true.
The history of the Botanical Garden in Dresden is eventful and exciting. In 1815, the Academy of Surgery and Medicine is given a plot of land for the establishment of a botanical garden. Five years later, a festive ceremony marks its inauguration. Heinrich Gottlieb Ludwig Reichenbach, one of the most acclaimed natural scientists of his time, is appointed director. Thanks to his excellent contacts with Saxony’s royal family, the new scientific institution can rely on privileges and financial support. Another five years later, the garden already boasts a stock of 7800 species. In comparison with other establishments of its kind, this is an exceptional inventory and explains why the Botanical Garden in Dresden is so noteworthy.
In the early 19th century, Dresden evolves to become a bastion of sciences in other respects as well. The Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments influences the city’s culture of technology and is the final authority in all issues involving the measurement of time. The Technische Bildungsanstalt is founded in 1828. It provides training in technical occupations and is thus instrumental in sustaining the rapid progression of the industrial era. Aspiring watchmaker Ferdinand A. Lange is one of its first and best-known students.
Today, the Botanical Garden is a vibrant scientific outpost of the Technical University of Dresden, which originated from the Technische Bildungsanstalt. Harbouring more than 10,000 plant species from all over the world, it still ranks among the foremost botanical gardens in Europe. The Alpinum, with vertical rock formations that bring to mind the basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway on the coast of Northern Ireland, is one of its special attractions. So is the preserved trunk base of an incense cedar whose annual rings track Dresden’s fateful years: this is where the photographs of the 1815 UP/DOWN and the 1815 RATTRAPANTE PERPETUAL CALENDAR were taken. Both models evoke memories of Ferdinand A. Lange and his legendary pocket watches. They are imbued with the spirit of an enthusiastically scientific era.