A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus In White Gold For 2020: A Collector’s (And Stainless Steel Odysseus Owner’s) View
Whew! For a while there I was worried that we wouldn’t have any new watches at all to drool over during the current worldwide lockdown period. But over the past few weeks we’ve seen a few announcements from various brands, and now, with the virtual Watches & Wonders Geneva launch week getting underway, we will have to chance to check out – at least in photos and renderings – a variety of introductions from the participating makers.
When we’ve attended SIHH in the past, the first thing that my buddies and I have done upon arrival has always been to trot down the long hallway to get our first view of the giant watch model at the front of A. Lange & Söhne’s booth, as for us it sets the tone for the whole show.
This year I had to jog in place in front of the computer screen in my home office instead, but I was delighted to see the initial images and descriptions of the watch that I’m guessing would have been front and center at Palexpo: A. Lange & Söhne’s Odysseus, now in white gold.
Everything you liked is the same; everything you didn’t is different
Well, perhaps that’s not exactly true, but from the start with Odysseus one of A. Lange & Söhne’s themes has been “familiar but different,” and that concept clearly extends, even within this family’s very first Odysseus day-date model, with the issuance of the white gold version.
My immediate impression upon seeing images of the watch (like you, I haven’t yet been able to see it in person) was a sense of slightly greater sobriety than the blue-dialed steel launch version, along with the feeling that my eye was being drawn to the periphery of the dial.
The former phenomenon is explained to some extent by the Lange-standard grey color of the dial; but I had to stare at this new watch for a while before I realized that the central area of the dial is flat, not frosted, and that the embossed areas bounding the dial and subdial have radial, not circular, grooves.
Leave it to Lange to decide that to make an existing model in a new metal “just right” it was necessary to change not only the color of the dial, but also its patterns and finishing. When we asked Lange whether this kind of dial change had antecedents in A. Lange & Söhne’s history, the brand reminded us of examples including the structured dial of the Langematik Perpetual in Honeygold, as well as special editions including the sharp-edged recesses of the Lange 1 25th Anniversary dial and the dramatic dials of the Handswerkskunst series.
I’ve been thinking pretty hard to come up with comparable examples from other manufacturers that follow this practice. So far, other than extreme instances such as the dials of Patek Philippe’s Grandmaster Chime variations, my count is at one: the flat-finished titanium-colored dial of my Vacheron Constantin Deep Stream Overseas compared to the embossed black and white dials of the standard steel and gold watches.
Will all future Odysseus pieces in white gold feature grey dials? In response to our query A. Lange & Söhne made no commitments, but did note that in addition to its elegant look, the white/grey combination is consistent with Lange’s traditional color codes, examples being the Zeitwerk Date and Triple Split.
You wanted a strap? They gave you a strap
Then, of course, we have the strap. Two straps, actually, as A. Lange & Söhne offers the option of either a hand-stitched brown leather or black rubber strap with air ducts on the interior surface, but apparently not both at once as each variant carries a separate A. Lange & Söhne reference number (363.038 vs. 363.068).
These straps are billed as “integrated” with the case, and if you look carefully at the interior surface of the link that sits between each of the pairs of lugs, you’ll see a couple of differences from the first bracelet link of the steel version.
First, the spring bars seem to have vanished – so good luck removing the links from the lugs! Second, a small quick-release circular button has appeared on that first link, apparently to secure the bar whose tips are visible on each side of the ends of the strap nearest the case.
The good news about this is that it does seemingly provide the ability to swap out to different strap materials and colors; and as far as I can tell there’s no reason why a slightly re-designed metal bracelet that synched up with the new fitment mechanism on the first link of this watch couldn’t easily be utilized. A. Lange & Söhne wouldn’t say whether a white gold bracelet is planned, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see one at some point along with a broader variety of interchangeable straps.
If you’re wondering how A. Lange & Söhne made a leather strap that connects cleanly with the complex interface of that really trick Odysseus deployant and yet can still be sized to different wrists, you can stop; in the very last line of the spec sheet, Lange lets us know that this variant comes with a white-gold prong buckle.
I’m guessing that A. Lange & Söhne’s retention of the first link and matching the width of the strap to the outer edges of the lugs won’t be to everyone’s liking, but (again, not having handled the watch) it’s very much to my taste and consistent with what I’ve called the “gauntlet” look of the steel Odysseus.
The color and tonal match of the leather strap look better to me than the rubber strap based on the initial images, but the rubber strap has the benefit of its narrow ribs breaking up the wide strap surface and continuing the visual lines of the narrow central extensions of the links. It is obviously more suited to immersion in water.
When I took delivery of my steel Odysseus, I praised A. Lange & Söhne’s decision to accompany it with distressed leather accessories that to my eye were consistent with the more sporting nature of the watch; that decision makes even more sense when we see the fairly rustic-looking leather strap available for the white gold watch.
Lange & Söhne hasn’t said whether it planned all along to issue straps with this model. If so, it must have taken some restraint not to mention it when some folks were expressing concerns about the bracelet on the steel model. And if not, kudos to Lange for listening to consumers and adjusting course between October of 2019 and now.
Building on a strong foundation
Otherwise, the basics from the steel launch piece of the Odysseus line are carried over, including the cool integrated pushers to correct the day and date, the 120-meter water resistance, and the robust Datomatic movement.
With the introduction of a white gold variant of the Odysseus day-date, Lange clearly confirms its intention to make the Odysseus line a true “sixth family” within the Lange universe, not a narrow collection limited strictly to steel watches.
Any quibbles or wishes?
I’ll know better when I see the watch in person! Just a few musings based on the photos and writeups I’ve seen:
- I completely understand the decision to mirror the radial grooves in the outer ring of the dial with a similar pattern in the seconds subdial, but I’ll need to see how the printed indices for the individual seconds look against a background of grooves that go in the same direction. At a minimum, it will take some good quality control to ensure that the printing sits directly atop the ridges.
- I’m a bit surprised that the different straps are associated with different references, especially as the straps appear to be interchangeable. My basis for comparison here is the current Vacheron Constantin Overseas line, which in most models comes equipped with leather and rubber straps as well as its metal bracelet.
- I’d hope that a deployant buckle will be an option for the leather and rubber straps and would have preferred it as standard with the watch; here my reference point is the gold deployant that comes as standard on the Rolex Daytona with the Oysterflex bracelet.
And of course, I’m eager to see strap options for my steel model as well! Our friends at A. Lange & Söhne say that they have no plans to issue these, and it looks to me as if it would require new end links to make it work, but you can’t blame a fellow for asking, after all.
As for the price, coming in at €39,500 including VAT in Germany (with a similar dollar price likely based on past Lange practice), the pricing continues to communicate Lange’s view of where the Odysseus sits in the pantheon of elegant sporty watches.
Will I buy it?
I admit that if I didn’t already own the OG Odysseus in steel I’d give this one some pretty serious thought assuming it held up to in-person scrutiny; but especially given that I bought the steel version for its go-anywhere, do-anything versatility I’m not likely to switch. At least at this point.
I’ll be very interested to hear how others react to this introduction, including everything from the use of gold in the Odysseus line to the appearance of the straps to the look of the modified dial.
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s all enjoy the wave of product launches from the Watches & Wonders brands this weekend!
For more information, please visit www.alange-soehne.com/en/odysseus.
Quick Facts A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus References 363.038 and 363.068
Case: 40.5 x 11.1mm, white gold with integrated pushers, screwed caseback, and screw-down crown; water-resistant to 120 m
Dial: partially embossed grey brass dial with white gold applied luminous indices; white gold hands with luminous centers on the hour and minute hands; windows for date and day, seconds subdial
Movement: automatic Caliber L155.1 Datomatic, 28,800 vph/4Hz frequency, shock-resistant balance with four poising screws, 50-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking subsidiary seconds; quick-set day and large date
Strap: integrated design with white gold end links and either dark brown leather (363.038) or black rubber (363.068) strap; white-gold prong buckle
Price: €39,500, German-market price including VAT