By Jovan Krstevski
I think we can all agree that there is almost nothing left to say about the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph. It is essentially one of the finest chronographs ever released back in SIHH 2015 and it received a lot of praises already, but this is something personal. Certainly, A. Lange & Söhne has set themselves up for a long line of Datograph Perpetual watches with this 2015 version which comes in a 41 mm wide 18k white gold case and matte gray dial. Compared to the original Datograph or the more recent Datograph Up/Down, the Datograph Perpetual feels more updated and it also ups the ante with the additional calendar complications all without entirely developing a new movement rather adapting a very reliable movement to meet the needs of the growing Datograph collection. I kind of like this approach since a new movement would definitely present some issues that might need to be addressed in future models. So far this has never happened seriously particularly with this brand so it would not have been an issue anyway.
As far as I remember, the combination of a white gold case and a medium grey dial already existed in the first edition of the Datograph Perpetual sometime in 2008 and 2011. They were excellent and well sought by collectors. Since then, the Datograph Perpetual had been slightly updated. The one I had on my wrist comes without Roman numerals instead featuring only baton hour markers. In my mind, it feels kind of clutter free which is one of the tenets of a high-end watch as seen with the 18K Pink gold or white dial edition. As for the case, it remains the same with a hefty 41 mm diameter and 13.2 mm thickness just like the Datograph Up/Down. In 18k white gold, the case feels meaty and substantially solid inside and out.
It definitely looks sportier particularly the medium grey dial which somewhat tempers the strong effect of the technical side of the watch. This very combination adds a privileged feeling to the design of the Datograph Perpetual and I love it. The color of the dial is very cool and adds a kind of homey touch to it and it also reacts nicely to different light sources like when you are on stage or silently reflecting sunlight in a meeting room. The light changes from light grey to a deep anthracite, playful but very thoughtful when you are looking a lot in your wrist for those precious hours you are clocking in. When it comes to dials though, the one in the pink gold edition is more dramatic but of course, I like the rustic effect on this watch and personally, it feels very charming. You probably might call it seductiveness just to be less-subtle about it.
Moving forward, the layout of the dial remains exactly the same. The dial is not the easiest to read (especially the sub-dials) but on the other hand, it’s extremely balanced and looks gorgeous on the wrist, particularly in this grey combination. Now I know that some of you might see that it sometimes becomes hard to read the calendar but personally, it is just fine. All the indications are located inside the sub-dials as clean as possible. The smoky cold effect of the dial is the reason for this but I guess it definitely falls on personal preferences, as for me I have no complaints whatsoever. The Datograph Perpetual takes back in wholesomeness what it loses in the readability part. The QP addition also does not bring any change to the watch face, it is quite remarkable. There is no extra window or sub-counter added, how cool is that.
I also like the large date at 12, it has some visual acuity in such a lovely frame. The moon phases are indicated at 6 somehow replacing the power reserve of the Datograph, I will miss that one. The months are integrated in the 30 minute counter at 3 with a very readable format, superb use of markings right there. The day is also presented into the small second sub-dial at 9 with very precise or fluid legibility. The day & night indications are so discreet that you would probably miss them unless you specifically look for it – remember these are the additional stuff for this watch. They are sitting comfortably on top of the small second and leap year sub-dial just below the 30 minute counter. What I do not understand though is why cram multiple sub-dials in one area, since it somewhat creates a noisy environment which is the highly probable reason why others have issues with difficult reading on this area. Anyways, on the one hand, the Datograph Perpetual manages to preserve the iconic look of the classical Datograph with this approach so win-win just in my opinion.
Moreover, the hour and minute hands are in rhodiumed gold and luminous. The day, month and four-year hands are also in rhodiumed gold while the chronograph sweep seconds hand, subsidiary seconds hand and minute counter hands are in blued steel. The details all come up bright and remarkably bring a sporty look.
Moving to the power source, the Calibre L952.1 is certainly identical to the old movement used in the Datograph not the Up/Down one except for the new QP module added on the top. The technical side of the watch feels pure, showing every detail as possible. I like how the hacking sounds when you hit it, it is like listening to a roar of a high horsepower engine, not the same but the feeling, definitely the same. I believe that this no secret approach somewhat offsets the low power reserve of the watch at a meager 36 hours. Yes, it could use a little bit more but for me, it is more than enough. The tactile feedback you get when using the chronograph is superb, like when you hit the reset button, all buttery smooth. Winding it every day is not an issue for a watch lover although in my experience, over time this becomes tedious but I will definitely pick this watch any time of the day, I like it that much. Fortunately, the movement for the Datograph Up/Down has been improved by A. Lange & Sohne with a 60-hour power reserve, but for this white gold version, a daily winding is not that bad at all. It is one of enjoying a mechanical attachment with a superb timepiece.
I will also add that the watch has a nice safety feature that prevents you from messing up your settings. This is good for me since sometimes I just accidentally hit one of the pushers as if enticed to do it partly because of the lovely feedback I get off of it. The rapid-correction pusher for collectively advancing all calendar displays is definitely useful with one recessed corrector each for adjusting the day of the week, the month and the moon phases. It is a user-friendly watch and I thank the designers and engineers for this lovely timepiece.
The beauty of this movement is one of a kind, think about its complicated layout with multiple apparent gears and levers, screwed gold chatons, the warm color of the untreated German Silver or blued screws, all tenets of a very desirable watch in the industry. There are 556 parts in this movement finished by hand and assembled twice with zero tolerance for any imperfection. It is a pure feast to say the least and to tell you honestly, you would find it difficult to put it back on your wrist the moment you examine its internal beauty.
In my experience, this watch is truly superb. It is very sporty yet classy thanks in part to its white gold material. The weight of the white gold brings confidence and the purity of the design is simply splendid. The details all come up superior like when you run your fingers across the caseback or o the side of the case. The combination of velvety smooth finish and some textured surface add up to a very high-end feel. The exclusivity of a perpetual calendar is also a plus factor. The power reserve could have been better but I can spend hours on end just looking at the superb movement.
I had this watch for 2 weeks on my wrist and all I can say is wow. There is nothing bad I can say about it. The buttons’ response are tactile and butter smooth. The surfaces, as smooth as they could be. This is premium at its best and the weight of the white gold is definitely substantial, something we are looking for at this price level. It really boosts your confidence as you wear it on your wrist. The Datograph Perpetual in white gold with the gray dial is priced at 119,000 Euros. For more info, visit A. Lange & Söhne online.