Last year, A. Lange & Söhne stunned the watchmaking world with the unveiling of Odysseus, its first serially-produced, luxury watch in steel. For years the brand had fielded repeated requests from loyal clients for a more casual Lange timepiece, one that was suited to outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking or sailing, or even just relaxing by the pool. The challenge, however, lay in developing a watch that would satisfy these requirements, without compromising in any way on the quality or craftmanship Lange is renowned for. Solving this problem required more than five years of research and development. A long time to wait, perhaps, but as aficionados and collectors everywhere will attest, it was well worth it.
Now, Lange builds on the success of the initial steel Odysseus with the introduction of a new, hotly anticipated precious metal version. Offering a case hewn from 18k white gold, it shows the same contrasting polished and brushed finishes as its steel sibling. Likewise, the dimensions of the three-part remain case unchanged, at 40.5mm in diameter by 11.1mm thick. Discrete sizing that ensures an exceptionally comfortable fit, without compromising on legibility or wrist presence. Atop the middle case sits the highly polished and slightly curved bezel, adding a further touch of elegance and class.
On either side of the screw-down crown are pushers responsible for adjusting the calendar indications on the dial. Rather than sticking out like traditional pushers though, they integrate cleverly into the design so as not to affect comfort on the wrist. Like the crown, these too are sealed with special gaskets to ensure a water resistance rating of 12 ATM (120m), the highest ever for a Lange timepiece.
Whereas the steel version features a sportier, more casual blue dial, this new white gold variation is adorned with an understated grey dial, emphasising the sophistication and formality of the watch. To further differentiate the two models, Lange has made use of different decoration techniques. For example, the hour chapter ring now features an embossed structure with deep grooves, a visually attractive finishing which is repeated on the outer perimeter of the small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. Likewise, the centre of the dial now shows a smooth finish, in contrast to the grained texture of the blue version.
The hour and minute hands, as well as the applied and faceted baton hour markers are crafted from 18k white gold and feature a streak of luminescence in their centre. The white on grey colour scheme of the outsize date and day displays – visible through white-gold framed apertures at 9 and 3 o’clock respectively – offers optimal contrast for easy reading, whilst maintaining the overall understated monochromatic aesthetic of the dial. Around the periphery runs a silvered 60-min flange, complete with a red number 60 at the top.
Inside is the Calibre L155.1 Datomatic, a self-winding movement tailor-made from the ground up for the Odysseus family. Measuring a case-filling 32.9mm in diameter and comprised of 312 parts, the movement beats at a frequency of 4Hz (28,800 vph). This is faster than most Lange movements, which tend to operate at 3Hz. The increased beat rate provides greater stability to the balance if and when it experiences shocks. For example, if you wear the watch while playing tennis or golf.
To optimise the performance of the movement relative to the higher frequency, the decision was taken by Lange’s engineers to design a new escapement system. It’s regulated with four countersunk poising screws, which sit flush with the outside of the balance-wheel rim. This design reduces turbulence despite the higher frequency. Together with the freely oscillating balance spring made in-house, the minimised air resistance has a positive impact on the movement’s rate accuracy and energy efficiency.
Architecturally, the design and finishing of the movement is classic Lange. The central rotor is open-worked to allow uninterrupted viewing of the expertly decorated bridges beneath. It features a platinum centrifugal mass and is embossed with the word ‘DATOMATIC’. A large 3/4 plate made from German silver holds down most of the movement parts, a hallmark of traditional German watchmaking. If you look closely though, you will notice that the balance is held in place by a bridge instead of a balance cock, which is more commonly used by Lange. The reason for this is because a bridge offers two anchor points, whereas a balance cock offers one. Ordinarily, the latter would be more than sufficient, but the additional anchor point means greater shock-resistance and stability. Important for a watch designed for ‘active’ wear.
As with all Lange watches, the movement has been decorated and assembled by hand. The bridges and main-plate are made from German silver and decorated using various techniques, including polished bevels, striping, blued screws – including one screwed gold chaton for the escapement – circular graining and black-polished steel parts. The bridge holding the balance in place is hand-engraved with a distinctive ‘wave’ pattern. Assembled twice before final casing, the Calibre L155.1 Datomatic offers 50-hours of power reserve when fully wound.
In another unexpected, yet not unwelcome twist, the new white gold Odysseus is worn on your choice of an integrated rubber or integrated leather strap. The former, in black, features two central embossed canals that continue from the lug modules. The hand-stitched leather strap, meanwhile, is dark brown in colour with a contrasting grey seam. Both straps are closed with a white gold prong buckle.
While a rubber strap in particular on a white gold watch is a little unorthodox, it is very much in keeping with the more active nature of the Odysseus collection and offers a pleasant contrast to the formal tone of the dial. To enquire about the new white gold Odysseus , please come and visit us at the A. Lange & Söhne Sydney Boutique, where our friendly and knowledgeable staff are ready and waiting to answer any and all of your questions.