Pisa Orologeria & A. Lange & Söhne: a passion story11 July 2023
Watch retail in Italy is mostly family business. These families have a long history behind and a very strong link with their city or territory, alongside with such a rich and in-depth knowledge and culture of the market and the product as to induce many brands to choose them as partners not only in distribution, but also for the opening of single-brand boutiques. As Pisa Orologeria, in Milan.
Close to the Flagship Store in Via Verri, the A. Lange & Söhne boutique has recently opened in partnership with Pisa Orologeria. The further piece of a puzzle of excellence that follows the other Rolex, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Hublot boutiques, which opened over the years thanks to the support of the Pisa family.
After all, Pisa Orologeria is synonymous with “passion for watches that became a job,” a reference point in a world of excellence and tradition. An innovative spirit and a particular talent in anticipating new watchmaking trends have distinguished the entrepreneurial vision of the Pisa family since the launch of their business.
From the small Via Verri shop, founded in 1940 by Osvaldo and Ugo Pisa, the company has now grown to a Flagship Store of over 1200 square meters, three Quick Service laboratories and five single-brand boutiques. A system that makes Pisa Orologeria the place-to-be for every watch enthusiast, with an offer of over 40 brands in the Milan fashion district.
THE BOND BETWEEN PISA OROLOGERIA AND A. LANGE & SÖHNE
The most recent chapter is the opening of the A. Lange & Söhne boutique, the endpoint of a collaboration which, over the years, has seen the Glashütte brand create some exceptional watches for Pisa Orologeria which have become highly coveted by enthusiasts and collectors. A collaboration born from the strong friendship between Fabio Bertini, the company founder’s nephew, Osvaldo, and Günter Blümlein, the one who, together with Walter Lange, gave new life to A. Lange & Söhne in the early 90s of the last century.
During a dinner, Bertini proposed to Blümlein to create a steel watch, knowing quite well that the brand only produced cases with noble metals. The reason that led Bertini to propose this was the following: to have a steel collection which, like the gold one, had a caliber and a complication of excellence. And Blümlein accepted.
From there, the first series of A. Lange & Söhne for Pisa Orologeria was born. Nineteen LANGE 1 timepieces, 16 of which with a white dial and 3 with a black dial. Immediately sold out. After those, we remember the Tourbillon Pour Le Mérite of 1996 in 150 pieces and the so-called Datograph Pisa in platinum of 2004, in only 10 pieces.
DATOGRAPH PISA: A COLLECTOR’S DREAM
The watch is the ref. 403.025X, also known as Datograph Albino: in addition to the platinum case it has a rhodium-plated silver dial with matching counters. It is the only Datograph with a tonal dial and case combination, as opposed to the standard series with a platinum case and a black dial or with 18k rose gold and a black or silver dial.
While it was not uncommon at the time for A. Lange & Söhne to produce one-of-a-kind configurations for its dealers, the Datograph Pisa stands out because the Datograph had never been produced in a limited-edition series in the model’s history. The case back of the Pisa edition is even engraved with the progressive number of the piece (X/10).
One of these pieces was sold in May by Phillips, during the Geneva Auction, for 228,600 Swiss francs (about 235,000 euros). Although this watch has been known and publicly discussed for years, none of the 10 examples had ever appeared at an auction. The piece sold by Phillips, moreover, had a peculiarity that made it very rare, a characteristic that most of the remaining Datograph Pisas do not have: the central seconds hand of the chronograph is rhodium-plated and matched to the color of the dial, which increases the monochromatic nature of the watch. On the other pieces the hand is blued. Also, the watch had a solid case back in addition to the sapphire glass one.
After A. Lange & Söhne was refounded in 1990, Pisa Orologeria was one of the first retailers to believe in the brand. At the time, Fabio Bertini would have liked the watches created for Pisa to have special dials that somehow celebrated the collaboration. Since this was not possible, all customizations intended for the retailer were limited to the case material.
THE NEW A. LANGE & SÖHNE BOUTIQUE AT PISA OROLOGERIA
This is where the very close relationship between the German brand and the Milanese retailer comes from, which led the A. Lange & Söhne corner that existed inside the Flaghsip Store in Via Verri to become a real independent boutique.
To meet ever-increasing customer expectations, the store has been expanded and modified. The boutique now extends over 50 square meters, where customers can enjoy attentive and personalized consultation, either by appointment or not.
The carefully selected materials and the chromatic nuances of the interior design take visitors into the manufacture’s world, which in its 33 years of life developed and produced 71 bespoke movements. The “Wall of Parts” stands out in the boutique, a wall installation with hundreds of hand-finished movement components that illustrates A. Lange & Söhne’s pursuit of technical perfection and the highest level of manufacturing.
THE BOUTIQUE: SERVICE, RANGE, ACTIVITIES
To better explain what role this new boutique will play in the strategies of both partners, Watch Insanity spoke to Chiara Pisa, who gladly answered the questions.
What scenario can A. Lange & Söhne dealers in Italy and in the world expect?
Since there is no will to change production in terms of quantity, which would affect the quality, the downsizing of the wholesale channel is an easily understandable consequence. In Europe, in the last two years, we have opened boutiques in Berlin, Frankfurt, Zurich and Geneva, the second in London and the last in Milan, while the opening in Paris is scheduled for this autumn. For years now, Pisa has structured its offer by integrating multi-brand and single-brand boutiques in an ecosystem which, far from being cannibalized, offers customers the experience and professionalism we have been handing down since 1940. This strategy has changed the look of via Verri, making the ‘Quadrilatero’ an essential destination for fine watchmaking lovers.
How are service and repairs managed at the new Milan boutique?
In continuity with the past. Pisa and Lange assistance is available to the boutique’s customers
Has anything changed regarding the assortment?
We try to present a balanced offer, with timepieces belonging to the various collections. Thanks to this new place, which reflects the manufactory’s values, we can offer a portfolio that meets the wishes of an increasingly diversified clientele. The decision to open this new boutique, after all, also stems from the desire to meet a greater number of customers who see A. Lange & Söhne as a ‘must have’ in their collection.
Will there be activities to engage or bring customers and collectors closer together?
The purchase of a watch it is not the end of the relationship with the customer, but the first step of a common journey. Opening a boutique means constant commitment to offering a tailor-made service, made up of experiences that aim to accompany customers in discovering the stories that make watchmaking such a fascinating sector.
By Davide Passoni