June 21, 2015
by Ariel Adams
Although my feelings toward the new 18k pink gold version of the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down watch are overwhelmingly good, when I originally put the watch on my wrist at SIHH 2015, I had some feeling about what it could mean for the brand given the trajectory of other similar brands. Even though the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down is one of the brand’s most handsome daily wearing watches, this is the first Lange that I had the distinct feeling of being very fashionable given the prominent gold case and bold looks. What would happen if our favorite “stealth wealth” luxury watchmaker suddenly went down the “lifestyle” route. I hope that doesn’t happen – and according to the brand “have to worry, Lange will remain dedicated to products.”
None of that should sour your excitement about what is in all respects an outstanding (and great looking) timepiece. However, I think it does provide some insight into how the A. Lange & Sohne brand might evolve over the next few years – a direction I hope does not negatively affect these collectors’ darling timepieces. I’ll touch a bit more on this later. Let’s get back to the new case color for this gorgeous German chronograph.
In 2014, I had the opportunity to fully review the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down here on aBlogtoWatch, and I took it to not only explore what felt so magical about the modern Datograph, but to also discuss what it was about the A. Lange & Sohne brand that made it so popular with discerning collectors. I encourage people to reference that review article when wanting to know more about the Datograph’s history as well as what the watch is like to wear and use on a regular basis. All that is different about that A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down model versus this one is that the other one has a platinum case whereas this version has an 18k pink gold case. Otherwise, from a technical standpoint, that watch and the one which is the subject of this article are the same.
In 18k pink gold, the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down has a much more bold appearance which is a bit removed from A. Lange & Sohne’s open love of “stealth wealth.” For years, the brand has relished in being among the world’s best luxury brands that so few people knew about. There was a distinct point of pride in having a finely made mechanical watch with an amazingly detailed movement that only the wearer and a few select aficionados they encounter could appreciate. Even though the original A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down from a few years ago was in a premium platinum case, from afar, the material might as well have been steel. The subtle, refined, and extremely classic look of most A. Lange & Sohne watches is what collectors and fans of the brand tend to prefer.
In 18k pink gold against a high-contrasting black dial with silver subdials and brown alligator strap, the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down Pink Gold looks like a beautiful classic chronograph made popular by Italian watch collectors. The timeless design hearkens back to so many eras for me without actually having lived in one of them. This is one of the few watches that I can safely say is “classic,” without actually being “retro.”
Then again, do we want Lange watches that are simply trying to be sexy? Is that what the brand is all about? A. Lange & Sohne typically doesn’t just release new colors of their existing models and call it a day. The brand tends to add even little technical additions or something else special when releasing new models. Well, that isn’t always true, but at least they aren’t as bad as some other brands who try to pass off a new dial style as “something new and amazing.” All I am saying is that I want Lange to be run by the people making the watches – which right now we still feel is a part of the brand. However, other similar brands have been lured by a more marketing-focused approach to the expansion of their businesses, and I hope that A. Lange & Sohne remains dedicated to being the “cool secret brand people are excited to discover.”
I am torn, because I don’t want a brand like A. Lange & Sohne to become a brand that just focused on new watches meant to look good if there is nothing technically new or substantial about them. I am not saying there is a lot of evidence to suggest this fact, but Lange as it is remains as part of a small minority of luxury companies. As fantastically made as Lange watches are, I simply don’t want them to become another “super luxury fashion brand” because they think their “time is now on the runway.” This happens a lot when you have a CEO of a company who is more into image than product. I am not making this claim about Lange’s CEO, as I am still not really familiar with the newest one, but I am saying that little by little, brands can sometimes divest a pure focus on product and all of a sudden adopt a brand ambassador that makes little sense for the brand. Again, Lange has assured me that this will not happen – and I hope that this mentality remains true for their future.
That isn’t, per se, entirely bad, but it really isn’t what A. Lange & Sohne is good at. The company is good at making traditional watches, with thoughtful complications that make sense to collectors, as well as being famously meticulous about movement finishing and decoration. I just don’t want anything getting in the way of that.
The Lange brand is a welcoming and interested place for dedicated mechanical watch lovers, but they are honestly among a rare few. I like that for the most part Lange doesn’t advocate the “luxury lifestyle,” or try to suggest that “people who wear an A. Lange & Sohne also like these other things.” Also, none of this applies to the Datograph Up/Down Pink Gold, but in the context of writing about this watch I’ve considered several possible futures based on what happens with other brand. Lange, can you please keep Lange the way it is? Even if you continue to release… pretty stuff.
As a reminder, the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down watch comes in a 41mm wide case that is 13.1mm thick. Even though that doesn’t sound very big, the timepiece wears a bit larger and has a wonderfully grand presence on the wrist. On the dial, you have a 30-minute chronograph, big date indicator, time, and power reserve indicator above 6 o’clock. The dial is among the few in the Lange collection to have luminant, and it is imminently legible.
There is, of course, the small matter of the movement which is perhaps one of the most special elements (if not the most special) out of any A. Lange & Sohne watch. Their chronograph-based movements happen to be particularly incredible, so you’ll be forgiven for lusting after the in-house made caliber L951.6 manually wound mechanical movement.
The bridges and plates are made from German Silver and the movement is comprised of 451 parts. The chronograph features a flyback complication, and when the chronograph minutes register operates, the hand falls directly on each new minute marker. There is also a stop seconds complication when the crown is pulled out. With 60 hours of power reserve, the L951.6 movement operates at a steady frequency of 18,000 bph (2.5Hz). If there were anything I could change about the movement, it would be to increase the frequency of the balance wheel to at least 4Hz. The movement is visible through the sapphire crystal on the rear of the watch and it is a sight to behold for horology novices and veterans alike.
Given the bright pink gold case, the stealth wealth component of this A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down watch is more or less missing. That is actually perfectly okay for most people, but it does remove its ability to sit along side many other previous A. Lange & Sohne watches in harmony. That might not bother you at all, and it might be something that you’ve been waiting for from the brand. We live in a time right now where, at least in some serious money circles, the concept of “stealth wealth” isn’t the presiding trend. No one is faulted for being humble with their pricey luxuries, but it is in fact popular now to display wealth a bit overtly, whether it be with a gold watch case or diamonds (or both).
Now, let’s try to remove my conservative watch nerd rants and focus on the fact that, in the abstract, the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph Up/Down Pink Gold is one of the most attractive watches in the current A. Lange & Sohne collection. Hands-down, this is the luxury German chronograph watch to own, and on the wrist, this Teutonic treat means serious business. Price is $72,500. alange-soehne.com