A. Lange & Söhne Presents Two Perpetual Calendar Tourbillons: Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon And New Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar
“Sex on a stick.”
That was only one of the juicy thoughts that ran through my head as I spied the these two new releases by A. Lange & Söhne at the 2016 edition of SIHH, both of which represent the complicated-yet-understated type of timepiece that this Saxon brand loves to make.
And, above all, the signature low-key style that this brand is known for in this case means that, thankfully, the tourbillons are not visible from the front.
Now don’t get me wrong: part of the fascination of owning a tourbillon is that you get to watch it as it works. But somehow the thought of just owning a tourbillon without it being on display to the rest of the world strikes me as even more luxurious, perhaps more stylish, and just really classy – the type of class born of supreme confidence.
Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon
It is above all the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon that is most likely to enthrall perspective buyers and interested onlookers alike.
For many, the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph is the best and most beautiful chronograph in the world. And following 2012’s updated Datograph as well as the 2015 release of the updated Datograph Perpetual Calendar, it made sense to up the ante one more time by providing this supremely well-designed line with a definitive grandly complicated movement.
And should you get the idea that this movement is modular, don’t think for a moment that the brand simply tacked another complicated element onto an existing movement. Nope, no way.
This movement is a completely fresh design created to incorporate all of its subgroups and assemblies specifically. Nothing else screams that fact more loudly than the placement of the tourbillon – which, by the way, hacks – at 12 o’clock.
The hacking tourbillon
Since 2008, when the Cabaret Tourbillon was introduced, A. Lange & Söhne has put its innovative hacking mechanism into all of the brand’s new tourbillon timepieces.
The Cabaret Tourbillon was A. Lange & Söhne’s fourth tourbillon movement, and it had something no other tourbillon before it did: hacking seconds. While the Cabaret Tourbillon has since been discontinued, its tourbillon lives on.
Using a simple approach, Lange movement designers Annegret Fleischer and Helmut Geyer decided the only viable alternative to achieving their goal was to instantaneously brake the balance wheel inside the tourbillon cage by using a stainless steel spring so delicate that it is actually not even visible to the naked eye.
In a nutshell, pulling out the timepiece’s crown activates complex linkage that allows a patented steel spring to come into contact with the outer rim of the balance wheel, stopping it immediately. The shape of the patented double-armed stainless steel spring was determined by extensive testing, and the special form ensures that contact pressure is optimal for any conceivable position it lands in.
Now let’s talk about that instantaneously jumping perpetual calendar, the one that can fully advance every display at same time when the user pushes a button on the case at 10’clock. How seriously cool is that? And if the wearer needs to advance one of the displays separately, he or she can still do that using the correctors neatly recessed in the side of the platinum case.
While 41.5 mm is a bit bigger than other A. Lange & Söhne timepieces, it is still fully in the range of being completely masculine, very wearable – and permanently classic. And despite all of its complexity, the solid silver black dial with its “stealth” big date – featuring white numerals against a black background – remains eminently well-organized and highly legible.
Quick Facts Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon
Case: 41.5 x 14.6 mm, platinum
Movement: manually wound Lange Caliber L952.2 with free-sprung balance inside a one-minute tourbillon that hacks; 2.5 Hz frequency/18,000 vph; 50-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve indication; flyback chronograph with precisely jumping minute counter; perpetual calendar with large date, weekday, month, leap year, and moon phase accurate to 122 years
Limitation: 100 pieces
Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar
The Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar was first released in 2012. And at the time of its introduction it was justifiably praised for its incredibly legible style of presenting the perpetual calendar indications, all in a way that still allowed the observer to immediately recognize the original asymmetrical Lange 1 style.
While it’s not necessarily obvious, in a design sense the way that the time displays are arranged on the Lange 1 inside subdials actually made it a logical choice to which to add a perpetual calendar.
The subdials, however, have been updated to include the added complexity. The hour/minute subdial now also houses an unobtrusive marker for the day/night indication. The subdial for seconds also plays host to the moon phase display on this watch.
As usual, the original large date inhabits pride of place on the dial, while the months are contained in a rotating scale that encircles the whole dial. The leap year cycle is shown in a very small window at 6 o’clock – and do note that this is a different leap year display than the one we find on the Datograph Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon.
To continue our tour of the functions, where the power reserve indicator is normally placed on the Lange 1 we now have the weekday indicator on the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar.
But don’t despair just yet: you don’t really need the power reserve indicator because the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar has automatic winding. And if you have been paying close attention to the brand all these years you may already know that the displays on the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar (and all automatic Lange 1 models) are in exactly the opposite positions of those found on the hand-wound Lange 1.
At A. Lange & Söhne, placement of the large date on the left side of the dial with the hours and minutes on the right always signifies automatic winding in the Lange 1 line.
Naturally, its perpetual calendar displays also make their switches instantaneously.
In addition to the white gold case, the grey dial is also new. But what remains the same is that the tourbillon with its innovative stop-seconds mechanism is only visible from the back of the watch.
As with the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar features A. Lange & Söhne’s diamond endstone in place of a ruby jewel. And I’m sure that I don’t need to remind you of the superlative fine finishing of these timepieces, or the fact that they have been assembled twice.
Quick Facts Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar
Case: 41.9 x 12.2 mm, platinum
Movement: automatic Lange Caliber L082.1 with free-sprung balance inside a one-minute tourbillon that hacks; 3 Hz frequency/21,600 vph; 50-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; perpetual calendar with large date, weekday, month, leap year, and moon phase accurate to 122 years