|Reference||410.038 Datograph Perpetual (Saxonia family)|
|Case||41mm x 13.5mm, white gold|
|Dial||Solid silver with gold appliques and hour markers|
|Movement||Calibre L952.1, consisting of 556 parts. Manual wind|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 30m / 98 ft|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 36 hours|
|Functions||Time, Perpetual calendar, moonphase, flyback chronograph, big date|
|Bracelet||Black leather strap with pin buckle|
A Review of the Datograph Perpetual
I am fortunate to be invited by some Swiss watch manufacturers to view their creations in private at their ateliers. What this means is that instead of taking a snapshot whilst having 101 others looking on, impatiently waiting for their turn, I am able to take my time and, ultimately, it means I am able to provide real insights that many would simply never have access to. That’s what was so important to me when I created The Peaked Lapel; to share these experiences.
I have no problem in admitting that A Lange & Söhne is a brand that, so far, I had only admired from a distance. I have a small number of other watch loving friends who have waxed lyrical over their movements, for example, but had always reserved judgment until I had had the opportunity to examine their pieces personally and in detail
I suspect that many, when considering the Swiss luxury timepiece market, will have a handful of names in their heads. Rolex is likely to be first; the gateway to most things horological. Then they might begin to look into brands such as Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Jaeger Le Coultre, Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin. Not many, I would suggest, make it past those five, such is the stranglehold they have on the market.
In an effort to mix up the established order therefore, please let me introduce to you A Lange & Söhne and, specifically, the Datograph Perpetual; one of the few watches I have ever had the pleasure of wearing where I wished the case back was actually the front.
Let’s get the essentials out of the way. Released in 2016, it’s the first timepiece from the maison that combines a perpetual calendar (date, day, month and leap year), requiring only one correction in 2100 to ensure accuracy, with a chronograph. Indeed such is the precision of both complications, the latter allows for accuracy to just one-fifth of a second whilst also combining a flyback function (meaning it can be started, stopped and reset with just one button). It also combines a big date function at 12 o’clock with moon phase at 6 o’clock.
The first thing that strikes you when you initially handle the watch is the weight. At 41mm in diameter and just over 13mm in depth, its dimensions are not especially large but it is very heavy, giving you a glimpse into the internal mechanics at work. The wearer will not forget this piece is on their wrist.
Secondly, it is how legible the functions are. The big date – a very useful complication – is crisp whilst the dial’s vertical line of symmetry makes it incredibly easy on the eye. The offsetting of the dark silver main dial with the lighter sub dials, incorporating the perpetual calendar and chronograph functions, is supremely elegant, ensuring this is an eye-catching piece but in one of the most subtle ways I have ever encountered. It is certainly one that will be revered by any you encounter whilst wearing it.
Winding and setting the watch, whilst using that delicious flyback chronograph, is nothing short of mesmeric. The noise and feel are both in the order of ‘world class’; it’s a privilege to operate.
Despite its slightly domed case and relatively modest height, this is not a watch that will hide away under a cuff however. It wants to be seen and, frankly, it would be a travesty to keep it hidden away. This means that if you want discretion, despite the elegance of the design, you would be better with, for example, a Grand Lange 1, which is not only thinner but sits flush to the skin, ensuring it neatly slides away and out of sight when you want it to. Of course, the Datograph Perpetual should also not be taken anywhere near water.
Turning the watch over is when the price of the watch sinks in, revealing one of the most beautiful movements you are likely to see. Many reviewers will go positively hyperbolic about the case back in this watch and I can only agree with their sentiments; the adjectives sensational, stunning, incredible are used all too often these days, but all the above, plus any other you care to choose, apply to the Datograph Perpetual.
The decision to retain its mechanically wound properties is a stroke of genius, as this means not only does it provide the wearer more opportunity to interact with the watch, it also ensures they have an unrestricted view into its heart that a rotor from an automatic piece would deny. The finishing is exquisite, as you might expect, but it’s the depth and three-dimensional properties it possesses that really blew me away. Pictures simply do not do this watch justice – only with a looking glass, with the piece just millimetres aware from your eye, can you really appreciate its magnificence in both construction and finishing.
The A Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual is a stunning hybrid of German efficiency with Swiss watch craft. Combining genuinely useful complications with an elegant, albeit somewhat chunky, case and, of course, that legendary view into the movement, this is a piece that sits proudly amongst the maisons I named at the beginning of this article. You owe it to yourself, if you are in the market for this kind of watch, to experience it; it is then, and only then, that you can truly appreciate the magic of haute horology.
The A Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual is priced at €121,400. It is not a limited edition albeit is made in relatively low numbers. As such, you might be able to find one on the grey market for that price, minus local taxes.