In this instalment of WristReview’s Top 5 list, I’m taking us in a slightly different direction to the norm. Usually, we’d look at specific attributes or complications, compare watches which share these and then rank them from 5 to 1. This time I want to make it a bit different, instead of complications or themes this list will look at the different variants of the same watch model, you’d be surprised at just how different they can be. Just to be clear, this list allows for different complications, as the Lange 1 has come in a few different formats, but these complications will be weighed up, so we don’t end up with a situation where the most complicated watch always wins. Without further ado, we’ll kick this off with one of the most popular haute horlogerie level watches around, the Lange 1 family.
5. Lange 1 Daymatic
The Lange 1 Daymatic is the oddball watch in the Lange 1 line, not just for its reversed appearance, but for its mechanical parts too. At the outset it doesn’t look all that different, apart from the dial has been moved around. One would be fooled into thinking it’s the same watch, it’s still got the outsize date, a hallmark of the brand, it’s still got the small time dial and separate subseconds too. It even has a power reserve indic- wait, no it doesn’t. The genius of the Daymatic can be observed on both sides of the watch. Because this watch is automatic winding (the standard Lange 1 is manually wound), the power reserve indicator isn’t necessary, so it’s been replaced by a day of the week indicator which is nearly identical in appearance.
4. Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst
The Tourbillon Handwerkskunst (craftsmanship in German) variant of the Lange 1 was introduced a few years ago now and was one of the first ventures into the realms of enamel dials for the German brand. With an immaculate black dial with a small cut-out to view the tourbillon through, it was no wonder this watch is hugely popular. It made it onto our list because of how well proportioned it is. Complicated watches from Lange tend to be big, product director Anthony de Haas explained it perfectly to us when we visited the factory. The reason for the size is that the company isn’t that old and doesn’t have the expertise or the ability to go in the attic as it were and see what old designs they have, like Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin can do.
What’s cooler than a big Lange 1 (okay, it’s 41mm, but that’s still big!) with a black dial and a moonphase that glows in the dark? Very little, perhaps the next two watches on the list, but other than that very little. The Lumen variant of the Grand Lange 1 Moonphase is certainly a rarity in the collection, and rightly so. On this watch, the markers, hands and the date wheel have been given a lick of luminous paint, so they glow brightly in the dark. Parts of the dial have been made of oxidised sapphire crystal too, this means in the day you can see the inside components of the date wheel, and at night the wheel glows underneath the dark sapphire, making for an extraordinary light show. Oh, I also forgot to mention that the stars and the moon on the moonphase are painted in luminous paint, so they glow brightly too!
2. Lange 1
I personally prefer the size of the Grand Lange 1, on my wrist the 38.5mm is beautiful but a little on the small side, but this is purely a personal matter as it was this watch that launched the brand and made it into what it is today. The Lange 1 is a beautiful thing; it’s classically proportioned and elegant in all the right ways. The dial layout is thoughtful, too, it’s not just weird for the sake of weird. This design means it’s easier to read the time when the watch is poking out from under a shirt cuff. The outsize date is a classic as well, operated via a large pusher instead of through the crown. This watch drips with effortlessness. Even the caseback takes it easy with just the balance on display, the rest is hidden behind a 3 quarter plate made of German silver. This could be the quintessential wristwatch for most occasions, and it’s not even Swiss.
1. Lange 1 Time Zone
The Lange 1 Time Zone takes elegance to a whole new level. Being able to simultaneously display two different time zones, the date, power reserve and the day/night of the timezones, and have a dial that’s legible is quite a feat and is successful thanks to that offcentre time. Imagine if the hands went through the middle and the second time zone was crammed into a corner somewhere (metaphorically, I am aware that circles don’t have corners), it would be confusing. The pusher for the city ring is butter smooth as well, I can only think of one or two watches which have a better feel through the pusher than the one on this watch. Watching the city ring move forwards while synchronised with the small time dial is hypnotising, and wearing the watch is the same as well. I got to try it out in the factory on tour, it fit me perfectly. Visit A. Lange & Söhne here.