Lange’s 1815 watch series is reminiscent of Ferdinando Adolf Lange, the founder of the Saxony precision watch industry born in Dresden the same year. 1815 was also a turning point in European history: Napoleon returned from the last battle in Waterloo. The Vienna Conference established a new international order. Innovative inventions have also accelerated the advent of the industrial age and brought endless inspiration to young people like Ferdinando Adolf Lange. The David Safety Light, introduced in 1815, is one of the new inventions.
Deep underground: miner safety lights and 1815 RATTRAPANTE PERPETUAL CALENDAR under the ‘Reiche Zeche’ mine in Freiberg, Saxony. Since pocket watches were rare at the time, miner’s lamps also had a time display function. Workers are accustomed to calculating the working hours by the duration of the miner’s light.
The mining industry, which has been the source of Saxony’s wealth since the Middle Ages, ushered in a major breakthrough in 1815. This has since saved the lives of thousands of miners worldwide and enabled the development of new resources. In 1815, the British chemist Humphry Davy successfully developed a safety light, eliminating a major threat to underground work at the time by miners, which was the explosion of biogas. When the concentration of biogas in a mine reaches a critical level, even the smallest spark can cause a fatal explosion.
David observed that when a highly explosive biogas / air mixture was confined to a narrow metal tube with a diameter of less than 3.5 mm, it would not ignite. This inspired him to place the flame of a miner’s lamp in a round tube wrapped in a tight mesh. The result was very successful. The thermal conductivity of the metal kept the temperature of the flammable gas below the ignition point, thereby preventing the explosion of biogas. Another benefit of this invention is that any biogas entering the tube through the metal mesh will light blue fire at the top of the flame. Now, miners can judge the concentration of biogas around the air through the size of this aperture.
However, David lamps also have the disadvantage that the smoke and dust formed on the screen will reduce the brightness. However, the quick Saxons quickly found a workaround. In 1884, Carl Wolf from Zwickau was awarded a patent for a gasoline lamp with a borosilicate glass tube. This lamp does not accumulate soot and burns brighter, and became popular after its launch. Friemann & Wolf soon became the world’s largest manufacturer of mining lamps. During the same period, Lange became synonymous with Saxony’s watchmaking craftsmanship and became internationally renowned.
The ‘Reiche Zeche’ in Freiberg was commissioned in 1384. This is the oldest mine in Saxony on record. The Himmelfahrt-Fundgrube to which this mine belongs was once the largest and most productive mine in the region, with more than a thousand horizontal roadways. Today, it is a research and training mine managed by TU Bergakademie Freiberg, an internationally renowned mining technology university.