photo by Harry TanWithin the watch collecting community there are some names that command respect, people who are known authorities on certain brands, like the late Chuck Maddox with Omega or James Dowling with Rolex. When it comes to one of our favorite brands, A. Lange & Söhne, that person is Peter Chong. Peter was the founder of the Lange forum over on Timezone.com and established the Lange Owner’s Club, an exclusive group of lucky individuals who, as the name implies, own one of the fine timepieces from Glashütte. Peter is also an accomplished watch photographer and frequently posts his images on Timezone.com as well as on his own blog.
Peter is so passionate about Lange and their watches, that he quit his job to write a book about a very special group of Lange watches, the Pour le Mérite collection, complete with technical details, history and of course, his excellent photography. The book, called, “A. Lange & Söhne: The Pour le Mérite Collection,” was just published as a limited edition, with some set aside for Tourbillon Pour le Mérite owners, others to be auctioned off, and a scant 902 available for public sale.
Peter took some time off from his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his watch collecting, his passion for Lange and his new book.
Jason Heaton: Do you remember your first watch?
Peter Chong: Um…no. But vaguely, I remember it was a huge Seiko timepiece, with a green dial. I wore this when I was in University, but changed to a quartz Casio grand complication (the $100 variety) on my final year.
JH: When did you acquire your first Lange timepiece? What was it?
PC: About 1996, when my fascination with the brand started. It is a Lange 1 in pink gold with a champagne dial.
JH: You are a well known Lange collector. Which references are in your current collection?
PC: I have a few iconic pieces, but I am perhaps more an enthusiast and connoisseur than a collector. I also have the Datograph, the Langematik sans date and a watch I mooted and got ALS to create – a white gold Cabaret with a grey dial, created for the Lange Owners Group.
JH: What attracts you to Lange as a brand?
PC: The magnificent products. All through the range, unlike some Swiss manufactures, are tip top in design, finish, and detailing. From the least expensive 1815 to the Tourbograph, all have the same level of attention to detail and finish.
The people. Over the years I have develop a long and deep relationship to many individuals within the company. They are certainly the finest, warmest and most sincere people I have ever met in the business.
JH: Are there any other watch brands you collect? What is your favorite non-Lange timepiece?
PC: Favourite is the Dufour Simplicity in rose gold with a plain white dial.
JH: How did you come upon the idea for your book?
PC: I am a passionate person…and this has driven me to quit my job (I was Director of Cargo Services at IATA Asia Pacific), to share my passion. I decided on a book because it allowed me to write extensively, and do photography. And I decided on the Pour le Mérite because it is the flagship line. Writing a book on all the Langes would be too big, take too long and be too expensive an undertaking.
JH: What sort of collaboration was there, if any, from the Lange company, as you wrote and photographed the book?
PC: A wonderful sort. Lange provided me with the best support anybody can ask or even dream of. I had full access to all the archives, and all people – from management to watchmakers to technicians and engineers. I was treated like a member of the family.
JH: You take some amazing watch photographs. Any advice for the rest of us?
PC: Thanks. Technique and lighting are two key aspects to be mastered to do good watch photographs. I also utilize complex techniques like focus stacking to achieve almost unlimited depth of field. Good equipment and attention to detail makes up the rest.
JH: If you had to choose only one watch to live with for the rest of your life, what would it be?
PC: Wow, this is a tough question. Perhaps a Double Split, or even the Datograph might work.
JH: What’s next for you?
PC: I am almost at the crossroads. I will spend the next four to six months promoting the book and traveling to do this. And I am open to either going back to work (I don’t have a job at IATA anymore, so will need to look for one), or to undertake another major book project. If I do the book, I will try another brand, but might return to do another book on Lange after a few others.
JH: Thank you, Peter, and all the best!
If you’re interested in Peter Chong’s book, “A. Lange & Söhne: The Pour le Mérite Collection,” you can contact Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $680 for the standard edition or $780 for the numbered Deluxe edition.