One of the qualities about Glashütte, Germany-based watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne that I most admire is their dedication to refinement as well as releasing new watches. The brand’s fresh slogan, “never stand still,” (perhaps without knowing it) alludes to this attitude towards brand quality. A. Lange & Söhne regularly releases updated or re-imagined versions of existing or substantially similar watches. For instance, the popularity of the Datograph later inspired the creation of the updated Datograph Up/Down, and the existence of the Datograph Perpetual Calendar has inspired the release of this arguably amazing 2016 reference 740.036F A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon as a limited edition.
The larger collection of new A. Lange & Söhne watches for SIHH 2016 is extremely impressive, in my opinion, and the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon is just one of the many treats. Thoroughly high-end yet subtle – so many of the brand’s enthusiast-oriented values are expressed in this deviously and deliciously complicated timepiece. It starts with a return to a concept that, for the most part, has been lost on modern luxury watches – and that is displaying the tourbillon only through the caseback of the watch on the movement side. This concept isn’t new for Lange, but uncommon, as I haven’t seen it expressed in any other models aside from the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar (that also has a new version in 18k white gold for 2016).
Perhaps the most popular watch that does not display its tourbillon in an exposed window on the dial is the Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon. A mere statement of “tourbillon” on the dial of that watch alludes to the complicated regulation mechanism within. On the dial of this A. Lange & Söhne watch, the brand mentions tourbillon by stating the full name of the watch on the dial under the big date indicator where it says “Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon.”
Interestingly enough, the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon isn’t the only new-for-2016 A. Lange & Söhne watch to have a “hidden” tourbillon. We also see this in a new version of the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar timepiece (that I am also very fond of). More so, while it doesn’t seem to be a trend, I quite like that the full name of the watch model is placed on the dial of the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon.
If you were thinking, “doesn’t A. Lange & Söhne already have a perpetual calendar version of the Datograph…?” then you’d be correct. Just last year, A. Lange & Söhne released a new version of the Datograph Perpetual watch (hands-on here). The message is clear: the Datograph collection is proving to be a popular seller for the brand, and they are using it as a base for exploring new and interesting movements. In the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, the emphasis is on legibility and further enhancements to visual refinement – as well as this gorgeous new evolution of the Datograph movement.
In addition to the tourbillon regulation system, the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon watch has three main complication families in addition to indicating the time. The “Datograph” name itself implies “date” plus “chronograph” which is what the original models all had. The chronograph is column-wheel operated with a flyback mechanism and measures up to 30 minutes, sharing a minute counter subdial with some of the perpetual calendar features.
Next is the perpetual calendar family of features which range from the signature big date mechanism to the moon phase indicator (which arguably exists in its own complication category). Here, we really see a fully-featured perpetual calendar complete with date, day of the week, month, and a day/night indicator. A. Lange & Söhne, always meticulous about useful functionality, designed the movement with a pusher at 10 o’clock which advances all of the perpetual calendar functions at the same time by one-day increments with each press of the button. This feature is extremely useful if the watch unwinds for a few days and you don’t want to go to the laborious task of resetting all of the calendar functions independently. Seriously, bravo to the watch movement designers at Lange for pushing to include this feature, as they realized that someone should actually be wearing this watch and using it – and not just owning it as something pretty to stare at.
Last, there is a handy power reserve indicator displayed as a linear bar on the periphery of the dial between about 9 and 10 o’clock. The introduction of the Datograph Up/Down brought with it a useful power reserve indicator to the mix of complications, and I applaud its presence here once again. I always say that, for me, manually wound mechanical watches really never feel complete without a power reserve indicator.
So what do you think? Did A. Lange & Söhne achieve their goal of designing relatively uncluttered yet inherently very data-rich dial for the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon? In classic Datograph style, the dial is black-colored solid silver with rhodium-plated solid gold hands. The hour and minute hands have SuperLumiNova luminant which is also something I like in these more “sporty” Datograph collection watches.
Before discussing the details of the movement, I’ll mention that the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon has a 41.5mm-wide case that is 14.6mm thick. This is very similar to the Datograph Up/Down and the Datograph Perpetual with just marginally more size added to the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, with its roughly 1mm of added case thickness. For this initial limited edition model, A. Lange & Söhne uses a solid 950 platinum case.
Inside the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon is the in-house made A. Lange & Söhne calibre L952.2 manually wound movement that comes complete with lavish amounts of hand-decoration and polishing. The movement is produced from a massive number of pieces, being assembled from a total of 729 components. Being a tourbillon watch, there is of course the diamond endstone on the balance wheel as well.
A. Lange & Söhne decided to design the movement to operate at 18,000 bph (2.5Hz), which is a bit slower than I’d like, but it does give the watch a total power reserve of 50 hours. The original Datograph has less than 40 hours, I believe, and the Datograph Up/Down increased that to over 60. With the added complications, the 50-hour power reserve seems acceptable. Also included is A. Lange & Söhne’s stop-second system for the tourbillon. This uses small “brake” that is activated when the crown is pulled out and allows for more precise setting of the time.
Attached to a matching hand-stitched black alligator strap, the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon has a very handsome look that easily appeals to those wanting a good-looking as well as complex timepiece. This reference 740.036F will be limited to 100 pieces and the price is €295,000. alange-soehne.com