Talk to me about Patek Philippe and we could be here a while. I love their timepieces for their subtlety and their high-end complications. However I like to walk with a spring in my step, to look around and be confident of myself and my abilities. This causes problems for high-end watchmakers most because I enjoy wearing sports pieces more than more formal watches for the simple reason that I get sweaty. This means that for high-end companies I’m drawn to watches such as the Nautilus, Overseas, Royal Oak and the Type XX ranges.
However Lange doesn’t have a sports genre, they do purely dress/formal watches which for myself is good and bad. The bad part about this is that I’d be less likely to wear one often for fear of ruining the leather strap and I wouldn’t want to keep buying new ones for it either. However usually in the world of watches you’ll find that the more interesting complications come about in the forms of dress watches. Yes I am aware that there are sports watches that have calendar complications amongst others in them, however would you really want to partake in sporting activities while wearing one?
A. Lange & Söhne is not only well-regarded as maker of arguably the best watches around nowadays but also a purveyor of unique twists on otherwise standard complications. You only need to glance at the Richard Lange Tourbillon “Pour le Merit” that has both a fusée and chain transmission and a moving segment on the dial to realise this. Now I present to you what I think could be the most useful dress watch ever.
Let’s start with the overall size of this thing. It’s 45.9mm in diameter, yeah you read that right. The new for 2015 Patek Philippe Calatrava 5153 is 38mm in diameter. Also this watch is 15.9mm high, making it much taller too. It’s made of solid platinum or pink gold too and costs an eye watering $235,000 new. However, there is reason to this otherwise outlandish madness.
There are two details you should pay close attention to on this watch. The first, on the dial, is a meter at 3 O’clock with the numbers 0 and 31 written on it. Turn the watch over and there lies the movement of this beastie, except in true Lange fashion it’s partly covered.
You see, the case itself extends over a small circle with a squared hole in it. Into that you insert a key, the key is used to wind the watch and is itself an elegant device. As you gently wind the key in the watch the indicator I mentioned earlier the hand moves ever closer to the number 31, indicating the 31 days of power reserve this watch has. Not hours, days.
Turning back over to the dial you’ll find that there’s also Lange’s classic outsize date feature that’s based on a decorative clock within an arch in Dresden. Pressing the button at 10 O’clock moves the right hand window on one position. Written underneath that are the German words “Monats Werk”, meaning month factory, a reference to the fact that this needs winding once a month.
So why is this watch the ultimate modern dar dress watch? That’s simple. A collection that can have this watch in probably has some other extremely expensive pieces that won’t have such a long power reserve. Some owners like to rotate watches by taking out maybe one or two watches to wear for a couple of weeks while the others are locked in a bank safe. The Saxonia 31 can be worn and enjoyed for a couple of weeks and then put back in the safe with the peace of mind with the owner that the watch will still be running when the owner returns and therefore won’t require the date setting. Also, this can help the movement last longer as when it’s in motion it’s constantly being lubricated. Don’t expect a massive power spike when the watch is first wound as Lange’s constant force escapement means that the watch will have a constant power input until it suddenly stops. 3 joules of energy through a watch in one go is a lot and would break delicate components.
I hope at some point I’ll be able to get a proper hands-on with this watch for you, as it’s not only perhaps the most exciting Lange watch, but also my grail watch. For more info, please visit alange-soehne.com
HARLAN CHAPMAN-GREEN – CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
A keen bass guitar player, Harlan enjoys all the perks modern watchmaking technologies the industry has to offer. Although you might catch him sampling Omegas or the Rolex, Harlan loves all things haute horology, with his three favourite brands being A.Lange & Söhne, Breguet and Vacheron Constantin. He hopes to study timekeeping more in depth someday and will never be able to thank his father enough for introducing him to the industry. Read his articles here.