Helping the Next Horological Generation
A. Lange & Söhne’s Anthony de Haas chats about their F. A. Lange Scholarship & Watchmaking Excellence Award
Column courtesy of Mr WatchMaster
Anthony de Haas is Director of Product Development at A. Lange & Söhne, leader and judge of their brilliant F. A. Lange Scholarship & Watchmaking Excellence Award. We recently covered the international talent competition which is a core element for the company allowing them to invest in the future of the watchmaking industry.
We were keen to explore this further and are delighted that he has agreed to share his thoughts and insights on the importance of the ‘Scholarship’ to A. Lange & Söhne. De Haas never planned to be a watchmaker, preferring the somewhat precarious career as a drummer…
His parents suggested that he learn a skill as a ‘back up’, which eventually saw him opt for a career in watchmaking, starting at IWC, then moving to Renaud & Papi, before securing his current job at A. Lange & Söhne in 2004.
What do you find most inspiring about working with the watchmakers of the future?
In the eight years that we have been carrying out the competition, I have observed how the quality of education of the participating schools has developed. I am under the impression that a new generation of watchmakers is coming of age that is self-confident and full of creative ideas. Last year’s task, for instance, was the biggest challenge we ever had, a full calendar display. Nevertheless, the results were the best too. We had a full calendar, which was inspired by the Five-Minute-Clock of the Semper Opera. Another one surprised by the originality of its cylindrical calendar indications. And the winner even exceeded the requirements by designing an annual calendar.
What is your favourite part of the whole process?
I have, actually, two favourite parts. The first is my lecture on product development and caliber design during the Scholarship week, when I have the most dedicated and curious audience one can wish for. The second is the evaluation of the submitted works at the jury meeting, which provides a deep insight in the creative process. From what I have seen over the years, we don’t have to worry about the future of fine watchmaking.
What is the benefit to the company as a whole?
The idea behind the award is simple: If there is to be a future for fine watchmaking we need to promote new talent. This is why we established our own Lange Watchmaking School 20 years ago. The F. A. Lange Watchmaking Excellence Award complements our approach by reaching out to the best watchmaking schools and up-and-coming watchmakers at the international level. The competition has proven to be rewarding for both the company and the participants, who become acquainted with our understanding of fine watchmaking and get the opportunity to demonstrate their skills.
What happens to the winner?
First, the award is endowed with €10,000 prize money, earmarked for supporting their future watchmaking career. This can be anything from a master class to the set-up of their own workshop. In any event, the award increases the chances of landing a job for the winner and runner-up.
About Anthony de Haas
A native Dutchman, de Haas began his watchmaking career at IWC, mainly due to him being a fan of the famous brand. He secured the job after his impressive performance in the ‘bench test’ that resulted in him taking apart, cleaning, re-assembling and regulating an ETA 2892 movement in less than half the time it took their own master watchmakers…
After two and a half years he joined the ‘watch supplier of complications’, Renaud & Papi and gained experience in creating ‘super’ complications, including minute repeaters and grande sonneries. During his six-year tenure with the firm, he worked for such famed Renaud & Papi watchmakers as Stephen Forsey, Peter Speake-Marin and Robert Greubel.
In 2004, he was introduced to a client, Fabian Krone that just happened to be the CEO of A. Lange & Söhne. It was de Haas that guided him during his ‘tour’ as he was fluent in German, and obviously impressed. Soon afterwards he was invited to join the Glashütte firm as Director of Product Development.