Sunday, 27 October 2013

#11 A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia & Langematik

A. Lange & Söhne  are one of the few brands that are outside this 'Swiss ring of watchmaking' and in fact the only few non-Swiss makers that are in the high-end watch industry. With a rich history that dates back to 1845, they continue to create some of the finest, most sophisticated timepieces around. Although this is a purely subjective matter, some connoisseurs regard Lange as the only true rival to Patek Philippe and they do indeed have a legitimate reason for having such opinion. Lange pieces are embedded with this romanticism that not every brand can express - classic yet unique designs with warm dials make them subtly stand out. 

And of course, it's not just the looks that makes Lange such a power house. Their mechanical finesse and that extra love and care for the movements is also what makes them tick - believe it or not, every movement is assembled twice for quality checks which ensures durability and functionality. Moreover, unlike most brands in the industry, Lange use 'German Silver',  a copper-nickel alloy as opposed to brass, which gives the unique aesthetics.

The two pieces here are: 
Saxonia Annual Calender in white gold ref.330.026 (left) and Langematik Perpetual in platinum ref.310.025 (right). 


The Saxonia Annual Calender features the Lange's trademark double-square date window; day & month dials and moon-phases. This reference comes with beautiful blue hands - not many can get the blue hands right. It can either look really tacky or too casual but Lange really hammered this one.

It is powered by the in-house L085.1 SAX-0-MAT automatic movement with 46 hour power reserve and employs the patented Zero-Reset handsetting mechanism. It consists of 476 parts and 43 jewels and beats at 21,600 vph or 3 Hz.

As aforementioned, the movement is constructed from German Silver, giving this unusual look - I personally think Lange make some of the best looking movements alongside Patek Philippe, Philippe Dufour, Audemars Piguet and F.P. Journe. The lust and the layout of this calibre is simply breathtaking.

You may have noticed already but this movement features a micro-rotor. Patek Philippe and Lange are two of the very few haute-horlogerie houses that employ the micro-rotor system (yes, there are makers like Laurent Ferrier but...) and the only two who has the know-how to really pull this off in terms of mechanics and aesthetics in my humble opinion. A special architecture is required to utilised these micro-rotors - since they are physically smaller than standard rotors, any miscalculation will inevitably lead to inefficiency in winding - and we all know that when it comes to engineering, miscalculations are simply not tolerated by Germans!

So, how does it feel when worn?

This piece measures 38.5mm and 9.8mm in size and height respectively. It certainly isn't the smallest dress watches of all but also not the biggest. This piece certainly represents that Lange have kept up with time and perhaps this is something that differentiates the German maker from Patek Philippe - I am certainly not suggesting that Patek are not keeping up with time but they tend to be a little bit conservative when it comes to sizing. 

It sits very comfortably on your wrist with the hand stitched croc strap with white gold tang buckle. The blue hands with a decently sized white gold case gives this young yet classy look. 

The Langematic Perpetual, as the name suggests features perpetual calender with moon phases powered by the in-house Cal. L922.1 SAX-0-MAT with 46-hour power reserve made up with 478 parts and 43 jewels, beating at 21,600 or 3 Hz, employing patented Zero-Reset handsetting mechanism.
This piece is the world's first mechanical watch that combines a perpetual calender with an outsize date.

The back looks remarkably similar, if not the same as the Saxonia Annual Calender, featuring German silver plates and a micro-rotor. 

 The overall layout of the dial is also quite similar to that of the Saxonia Annual Calender but the Langematik Perpetual displays roman numeral hour markers and luminous silver hands.

Measuring at 38.5mm in diameter and 10.2mm in thickness, it sits marginally higher than the Saxonia annual calender but still provides the same comfort. This application of roman numeral markers and silver hands gives a very different feeling by giving off a more mature look than the blue hands. This piece also has an added depth of sophistication by employing perpetual calender, thus unconsciously giving that extra depth of class. 

Both the Saxonia Annual Calender and the Langematik Perpetual are true connoisseurs' pieces. They are embedded with horological excellence and elegance, capturing what Lange as a brand stand for. Either one of these would make a good candidate for any watch collector's grail piece. 

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