It’s hard to imagine that A. Lange & Söhne in its current iteration, has only been around for just over two decades. Closing down when their property was expropriated by the East German government, the once great company went dormant until the reintroduction of their first range of wristwatches in 1994. Never one to compromise on quality, today they are seen as one of the world’s premier watch manufacturers. This week we take a look at the Datograph Perpetual, a wristwatch that epitomises the quality and values that has made A. Lange & Söhne the brand that it is today.
There has been several variations in dial layout and case throughout the years, but today, we are specifically going hands-on with a Datograph Perpetual Ref. 410.032 in 18k pink gold, a watch that was released in 2014. It’s a highly complicated timepiece with a flyback chronograph, perpetual calendar, moon phase and power reserve indicator - all very useful complications, with the exception to the moon phase – which just looks really nice.
The dial, while not as distinctive as a Lange 1, is still in its styling, undeniably A. Lange & Söhne. Underpinning this is the characteristically Lange oversized date aperture at 12 o’clock, with the ability to quickset it through a pusher at 10 o’clock. There are two sub-dials displaying a running seconds and a thirty minute counter on left and right side of the watch face respectively and within these sub-dials are the day of the week and month indicators. Lying on top of these on the left is a small power reserve indicator and on the right a leap year indicator for the perpetual calendar function. Finally at 6 o’clock lies the moon phase, finishing off what is a superbly complicated watch. Perhaps the legibility of the dial is affected due to the level amount of information communicated on it, but I feel after a while it becomes far more intuitive.
Housed in a modern 41 mm sized case and at a thickness of 13.5mm, it’s a watch that makes a bold statement with its presence, especially as it wears larger due to its white dial. Moreover, the case is expertly finished, mixing both polished and brushed surfaces adding a cool contrast, further accentuating the form of the watch.
The Datograph Perpetual is powered by the Calibre L952.1, a completely in-house developed movement. Based upon the original Datograph, Lange’s chronograph-only watch, they pioneered the idea of an in-house chronograph when the said model was first released in 1999. After all, the likes of Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin were using Lemania-based ébauches until recently and Audemars Piguet’s chronographs are still based off an F. Piguet ébauche. This calibre L952.1 is a column wheel, lateral-clutch flyback chronograph movement with a perpetual calendar module built on top of it and has a power reserve of 36 hours.
Perhaps, what is most distinctive about A. Lange & Söhne watches, is the architecture and finishing of their movements, and it doesn’t get any better than looking at the under-side of this Datograph Perpetual. The three dimensionality and architecture of the movement adds thickness to the watch but this is easily forgiven as the aesthetic trade-off far outweighs the added millimeters. The chamfering and interior angles of the watch as expected are expertly-finished and another characteristically Lange trait is the engraved balance cock flourishes. Done by Lange’s master engravers, if one were to bring this watch back to the manufacture, they would be able to tell you exactly which craftsman was responsible for this based on the engraving style. This adds a nice personal touch to each and every Lange that leaves the factory. At the end of the day, words cannot do justice to the impressiveness of the Calibre L952.1, just take a look at the photographs for yourself.
This watch is currently available here for £64,000.