While A. Lange & Söhne has certainly mastered many things in the realm of horology, the way the watchmaker designs dials is one of the most notable with its knack for bringing together purposefully askew components in a surprisingly cohesive way. Take, for example, the Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar, which combines a peripheral month ring with off-centered displays for the hours and minutes, moonphase and running seconds, day, leap year, and oversized double-date windows. A perpetual calendar dial is always packed with information, yet A. Lange & Söhne’s unconventional execution of the displays is not only exceedingly legible but handsome, too. The model first appeared in 2021, offered in pink gold with a dark gray dial and white gold with a pink gold dial. (You can read Bilal Khan’s Hands-On Review of the Lange 1 Perpetual Calender for a refresher.) For 2023, a third iteration of the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar watch joins the lineup, featuring a platinum case and black dial.
The 950 platinum case of the new Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar retains the same dimensions as its predecessors, which is to say 41.9mm in diameter and 12.1mm thick. That’s a hefty case for a dress watch, but in reality, you need that type of mass area and surface to properly display a perpetual calendar — especially considering A. Lange & Söhne’s design language. The solid silver dial is rendered in rich black, setting an excellent backdrop for the series of indications, especially the blue moonphase disk with an integrated day/night indicator. In case you were wondering, the presence of stars on a dark blue background symbolizes night while a light blue sky without them signals day. There’s also a running seconds hand sweeping around the moonphase disk. The white gold moon completes its cycle in 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3 seconds; therefore, if the watch is kept running, it only has to be adjusted once every 122.6 years, or long after you or I are still here.
Moving in a clockwise direction from the moonphase, we have the retrograde day indicator, starting with Monday on the bottom and ending with Sunday on the top. Then we come across A. Lange & Söhne’s signature duo of oversized date windows with bright white numerals, which again, is wonderfully legible against the deep black background. Next in line is the hour and minutes subdial, punctuated with Roman numerals at the quarters and featuring a pair of rhodium-coated gold hands at the center. Finally, we arrive at the small leap year counter at 6 o’clock.
Encircling this choreographed calendar dance is a month indicator around the periphery, which, I have to say, is a clever way to present this particular indication. A. Lange & Söhne premiered this 48-step cam month display in 2012 with the release of the Lange 1 Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar. According to Anthony de Haas, Director of Product Development, “The commitment to tailor the complex mechanical requirements to the characteristic design of the Lange 1 presented our developers with constructive challenges, as the large peripheral ring has to be advanced instantaneously by 30 degrees from one month to the next. Throughout the month, energy is collected via a cam in order to provide the required power exactly on time, at midnight on the last day of the month.” He further adds, “Thanks to this design feature in the Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar, the watch family’s distinctive face is maintained. The timepiece is therefore also emblematic of our philosophy to continuously break new ground in the realm of precision watchmaking.”
At the heart of the Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar’s functionality is the Lange manufacture Caliber L021.3 self-winding movement. In true A. Lange & Söhne form, the movement is beautiful, elaborately hand-finished, and assembled twice. There are the customary untreated German silver plates and bridges decorated with Glashütte ribbing, the hand-engraved balance cock, the gold chatons secured by blued-steel screws, and the 21k gold rotor, just to name a few of the highlights. Of course, a movement this striking needs to be seen so the caseback is dutifully fitted with a sapphire crystal. There are a total of 621 movement parts, 63 jewels, and five screwed gold chatons. Caliber L021.3 supplies the watch with 50 hours of power reserve and operates at a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour (3 Hz).
Finishing off the confident look of the platinum Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar is a hand-stitched black leather strap, furnished with a platinum prong buckle. Although the brand has declined to make a public retail price available for the platinum A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar (ref. 345.036E), expect it to be exceedingly expensive. For context, the previous pink gold version was priced at $104,500 and the limited-edition white gold edition was priced at $116,000 upon release two years ago. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.