World Of Watches: An Unique Interview With A. Lange & Söhne Manufacturing Director Tino Bobe On The Way forward for Luxurious Watchmaking






A. Lange & Söhne Manufacturing Director Tino Bobe

Common readers of this journal might be very aware of some recurring themes and, for some manufacturers, characters. To start with, if that description rings true for you, thanks for nonetheless being serious about what we’ve got to say about watchmaking. Critically although, you’ll recognise not solely Tino Bobe, Manufacturing Director at A. Lange & Sohne, whom we’ve got interviewed a number of instances over the course of the final 10 years, no less than, but in addition the picture we’re utilizing of him. The Glashutte manufacture has not refreshed its publicity picture financial institution, and Bobe appears to be like a good bit completely different since this shot was taken. Whereas we nonetheless consider Bobe as trying as he did in 2004, the primary time we noticed his picture in {a magazine} someplace, time has superior a good bit since then.  

Okay, so why can we return to the same old suspects at A. Lange & Sohne? For one factor, the model solely presents Bobe, Anthony De Haas and Wilhelm Schmid for interviews, and we’ve got cycled again to Bobe this 12 months. We do additionally get pleasure from our chats with the blokes, although we don’t actually anticipate them to recollect us or our earlier engagements. Effectively, perhaps Bobe does which is why we’re trying ahead to catching up with him in Glashutte by the point you learn this story. Tino, in case you are studying this, we’ll take you up on the long-overdue beer.  

A. Lange & Söhne : Scenes from the watchmaking faculty, together with from the latest graduating class.

At Watches and Wonders Geneva, A. Lange & Sohne solely launched one correctly new watch, the Odysseus Chronograph so we had loads room to speak issues by means of with Bobe. We share his ardour for watchmaking, and the preservation of conventional know-how. As such, we had a little bit of enjoyable unpacking Schmid’s remark to us concerning the model’s responsibility of care, as he put it, to the career of watchmaking. We did handle to get in an essential observe concerning the Odysseus and actually any scorching watch from A. Lange & Sohne, however we largely caught with the topic of the model’s values and folks, whom Bobe candidly calls household. This isn’t a small matter for a Glashutte native comparable to Bobe, whose dearest want is that A. Lange & Sohne might be as robust in 20 years, as it’s in the present day.  

If that makes you suppose Bobe is worried about his legacy, suppose once more. As somebody who has been with A. Lange & Sohne for the reason that starting, Bobe is far more within the legacy of the agency and the model. With, we’ll leap proper into the questions and let Bobe take it away. 

A. Lange & Söhne : Scenes from the watchmaking faculty, together with from the latest graduating class.

Allow us to start with the watchmaking career, and the way A. Lange & Sohne handles the problem of attracting new expertise, and conserving the tradition of watchmaking wholesome.

Final 12 months, the 25th anniversary of our personal watchmaking faculty, reveals a little bit bit that we have been obliged to organise coaching ourselves. Or it was vital for us to do that ourselves as a result of in reverse to the Swiss scenario, the place perhaps you simply can exit and rent folks, we by no means had this (luxurious). 

Sure, there was, simply originally when Walter Lange reestablished the corporate, a state-owned firm present with many, many watchmakers (this was the GDR agency that produced watches for the communist GDR state). However what did they do? They produced mass manufacturing actions. There was no data for ending and no data of high-end watchmaking (as A. Lange & Sohne supposed on doing), or no less than it was very uncommon as a result of there have been nonetheless a number of individuals who needed to handle servicing previous pocket watches (even on the GDR collective).

It was a tough activity to reestablish A. Lange & Sohne at the moment, and that’s the reason, even through the first months some folks have been despatched to IWC to study there (Walter Lange and Gunther Blumlein restarted the A. Lange & Sohne model when the iron curtain got here down in 1989; Blumlein already ran IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre). However then we noticed the profitable growth of the corporate and we stated no, we’ve got to handle our personal future, and that is what made apprenticeship occur at A. Lange & Sohne (within the type of the aforementioned faculty). 

So we’ve got between 10 to 12 younger folks every year for a three-year apprenticeship and it needs to be organised correctly (the understanding is that some folks might advance quicker than others, that means as much as 36 folks might graduate in a single 12 months) and that’s why our former manufacturing director took over the accountability for this complete watchmaking faculty (Bobe is at present Manufacturing Director). 

A. Lange & Söhne

What’s the profile of the folks going by means of the programme? Are all of them watchmakers?

Now we have even every year one or two software makers and, since final 12 months, even younger women from our workplace within the HR and finance roles, doing a (watchmaking) apprenticeship on this course actually, since you want good, well-trained folks and it’s not simple to seek out outdoors. We’re in Germany so you’ll be able to’t evaluate watchmaking right here (with the Swiss scenario). It’s uncommon you that you just discover full-time folks within the area, and even while you develop to incorporate the entire nation, Glashutte remains to be the largest. You may think about that of the manufacturers which are right here, every one fights to develop and maintain their very own skills, and we attempt to not take folks from (our neighbors). 

So we’re actually on our personal to prepare ourselves to safe our future. For this reason we’re doing a partnership with the regional watchmaking faculty, the unbiased watchmaking faculty, and we’ve got our personal watchmaking faculty (as talked about) as a result of (customary watchmaking programs cowl issues like quartz that A. Lange & Sohne doesn’t want, and offers coaching on working with customary calibres produced by the likes of ETA and Selita, which can be a facet of watchmaking not required on the agency). Our present deputy head of motion meeting got here from our apprenticeship programme, though he went elsewhere first, earlier than becoming a member of us ultimately. 

A. Lange & Söhne

This form of coaching is an costly funding although, and in addition fairly particular to your wants… 

For those who bear in mind your go to to Glashutte, you noticed numerous younger folks, and that is the results of our watchmaking faculty, as a result of there is no such thing as a prepared marketplace for watchmakers (as there’s in Switzerland).  So sure, we spend cash on this; it’s perhaps even the largest funding every year. It’s about how you will discover younger people who find themselves serious about watchmaking…perhaps 15 years in the past, you simply put a small commercial in a newspaper…otherwise you go to 1 faculty and introduced job alternatives. What we’re doing in the present day, I feel we’ve got round 22 to 24 gala’s the place we current profession choices in watchmaking…we attempt to present them what watchmaking is about, and what may be attention-grabbing about it (as a profession). Ultimately, (even should you discover those that are keen), we want folks with a sure expertise to work in a concentrated manner, eight hours a day. Even when they’ve golden fingers and the correct ‘mind’ for the work, not everybody can do it.   

Now we have to seek out the correct folks so from the start, we’ve got two days of checks, overlaying every part from arithmetic to German language abilities! (laughs). However actually it’s about manipulating actually small issues, and so forth. If individuals are not profitable on this check, we don’t proceed with them as a result of it isn’t honest…to them. In the event that they fail the check, they won’t have a profitable apprenticeship. We need to have younger folks have a profitable apprenticeship to allow them to have a extremely good begin of their future profession. That is one thing we’re doing for watchmaking as a result of (as talked about earlier) they won’t stick with us. 

However anyway those that stick with us, they love the work, and the corporate, as a result of we’re nonetheless small. Now we have actions the place folks of all departments can get to know one another, and study a bit about one another, together with their job features. On this manner, they see how they will develop within the firm. In the case of the watchmakers themselves, they will simply see what the following problem may seem like for them, or what the way forward for their profession path holds. They’ll additionally get enthusiastic about having the ability to at some point work on a tourbillon motion, for instance.  

A. Lange & Söhne

So you’re saying that investing in folks is long-term at A. Lange & Sohne?

Our greatest asset on the firm will not be patents, buildings or machines – it’s our folks. I’ve no less than two or three shows of as much as two hours lengthy for our new folks. And in these shows, I clarify a little bit bit about our collections, the place we come from, etcetera. And I at all times finish with this message: Look, you’re actually new however I would like you to know that we see our workforce as the largest asset this model has. With out you, nothing is feasible.

Now, as we spoke about earlier than, we want even individuals who know the way to end components; the way to know to supply on the CNC machines; the way to write the packages. To make watches, we want every one particular person, with every particular ability. Consider it as you’d a mechanical motion: take out one pin or one wheel – what’s taking place? Nothing occurs. The motion will not be working anymore and it’s the identical factor for us as a workforce. 

For this reason we (it’s irritating to debate) the watchmaker who handles issues as extra particular than a ending specialist. There’s a little little bit of fact in it as a result of it’s tougher to get the complication job executed – you want 10 to fifteen years of expertise. For ending, perhaps it’s simpler since you solely want one or two years. Regardless, you want each. We even want good folks in our boutiques (to maintain the motion of our enterprise going, to make use of the identical analogy). They’re those who’ve to elucidate why there’s a scarcity of some watches…who need to work to keep up the goodwill of collectors.

A. Lange & Söhne

On that observe, you’ve a brand new Odysseus Chronograph and it’s a true restricted version. That can take some explaining.

Now we have to watch out to at all times clarify even that we aren’t artificially capping our manufacturing. Actually, we’re preventing on daily basis to have one watch extra. Positive, we might make extra Odysseus watches, however then we must make fewer Lange 1 watches etcetera. This isn’t what we wish, so this implies there are pure limitations. We should always clarify this higher, within the sense that making extra of 1 mannequin means we’ll make fewer of one other.  

This text is revealed within the #69 Summer time 2023 concern of WOW

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