One of the top watches that I was excited to see at SIHH 2012 was the updated version of the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph. The original Datograph from quite a while ago was an awesome watch and one of Lange's best aside from their iconic Lange 1 range. It is one of the only Lange watches you could sort of call sporty, and it was I believe the only Lange watch with a black dial. Those high contrast chronograph subdials and that smoothly integrated chronograph along with the big date indicator made for a great look.
For about a decade, Lange fans have been asking the German brand to re-release the Datograph or come out with something new yet similar. In 2012 Lange responded with the Datograph Up/Down... called the Auf/Ab in Germany. The piece is a slight but satisfying evolution on the original watch with some upgrades.
For 2012, the Datograph gets a size increase to 41mm wide in case diameter. That is just 2mm more than the original, but the size does matter. Lange doesn't make the largest watches, but they are mostly thick in size which helps them look larger. With size preferences for men's watches up for good, it made sense to offer the same package in a slightly more modern size for today's watch lovers. The case is thick enough to be noticeable at 13.1mm.
On the wrist, the new size feels comfortable and appropriate. The concept feels better at 41mm and feels very medium, being not too large or too small. 39mm wide was personally too small for my tastes. You really get a feeling of depth when looking at the movement through the sapphire crystal caseback. If you aren't impressed with how Lange movements look, then you need a new hobby. The in-house made caliber L951.6 is an amazing thing that is very three-dimensional. It is hard to tell looking at it straight on, but with so many levels, the movement really feels like a city of springs and gears. The movement parts are all hand-decorated and finished.
Aside from the slightly larger size, the movement adds an increased power reserve over the original - up to 60 hours for the manually wound movement. It also adds a power reserve indicator. This latter complication is very useful to have in any manually wound movement and I think that it has been integrated tastefully and carefully into the dial. Lange designed the power reserve indicator like some day/night indicators on their other watches. It is diminutive yet useful. I however feel that an automatic version of the Datograph would be very welcome.
Dial elements on the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down are crisp and of a very high quality. The hands are filled with lume (not common for the brand), and contrast is high for easy reading. I really don't quite understand what prevented Lange from having other black dialed watches. They got close with dark gray dials... but not quite black. Or am I forgetting something?
While this watch does have a sporty demeanor it is in platinum. That's right, A. Lange & Sohne just skipped over white gold and went straight for platinum to make the watch ultra-lux. I really don't know if anything other than a platinum version will ever be offered. Attached to the watch is a black crocodile strap with some blue-gray stitching. It looks nice with the Datograph Up/Down, and I bet it would look good on a bracelet (fat chance of that happening anytime soon I suspect). Overall, this is a fantastically nice watch that I will more than likely never get the chance to own. As a Lange, this is a fine "grail" watch, and those able to get one will have a piece they can enjoy for a long time.