A well-founded criticism of haute horology watchmakers is a lack of creative expression—there are no qualms about the beauty of the timepieces they produce, but it can be frustrating when watches share the same stoic, traditional aesthetic. It’s therefore refreshing to see deviations from the norm, no matter how slight they may be. A. Lange & Söhne, the German watchmaker revered for its technical prowess, may very well be experimenting with more liberal designs with its release of the limited edition A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Annual Calendar in white gold with a grey dial. While it might not represent the best ALS has to offer, it is undoubtedly a very interesting step forward.

A. Lange & Söhne already produces the small-seconds Saxonia with a dark grey dial, but this is the first ALS timepiece with an outsize date complication that features white numerals with a grey background. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but at least it’s not the common white or black dial usually found on dress watches. Grey also isn’t a popular color in high-end watchmaking; two of the most popular grey dial watches, for instance, are the Rolex Oyster Perpetual in Dark Rhodium and the Sinn 556 with the Anthracite Dial, both far less expensive than any ALS watch, let alone an annual calendar. I don’t love the grey, but I know many people do, and this watch is built for them. I also think it’s the vivid blue alligator strap, not the grey, that truly gives this watch a more liberal, modern ambiance. I’m aware some might feel that the strap is too gaudy, but given how it pairs with the flash of blue in the moonphase, I think it’s a solid, albeit unorthodox, choice. White gold is also a better material than gold or rose gold for this case, as its subtlety prevents the watch from being too loud.

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The other feature that sets this version of the Saxonia Annual Calendar apart from the others is that the rotor parts around the embossed A. Lange & Söhne logo in the movement are plated in black rhodium. They’re also finished with a circular graining that brings out the contrast between the gold and the rhodium. The resulting darker undertones of the rotor are thus very different from the lighter appearance of the rest of the movement. The movement is indeed gorgeous, but I personally don’t think that the dark rhodium makes it look any better than it did before. If anything, I think it detracts from the movement’s otherwise cohesive character.

Aesthetic differences aside, the movement is the same as it is in A. Lange & Söhne’s classic Saxonia Annual Calendar watches. The watch is powered by the in-house caliber L085.1 SAX-0-MAT, a self-winding movement with 46 hours of power reserve and a frequency of 21,600 vph. It also includes a handful of complications: small seconds, moonphase, and annual calendar. Compared to an ordinary calendar complication which does not recognize what month it is, the annual calendar is accurate from March to January, and it only needs to be reset once a year at the end of February. Lange’s patented Zero-Reset function, which causes the seconds hand to jump to zero when the crown is pulled to allow for accurate setting of the time, is included as well. The watch rounds out at a diameter of 38.5mm and a thickness of 9.8mm, so though it’s on the larger side of dress watches, it’s still very wearable.

I quite like this watch and I know that it will be of the highest quality, but I simply think that the brand can do so much more with a limited edition run than alter the dial color and add a small detail to the movement. There is so much potential to create watches with vibrant colors and contemporary design cues, and even though ALS might not be known for those types of watches, it couldn’t hurt to branch out. What gives me hope is that this watch is just a stepping stone to more innovation and experimentation in the future.

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The A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Annual Calendar in white gold with a grey dial is limited to 25 pieces at $54,500, and it is exclusive to the United States, only available in Lange’s New York, Miami, and Costa Mesa boutiques. alange-soehne.com

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