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REVIEW: The A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual>>>>>>

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Published on 01-15-2010 10:53 AM

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Review of the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual
By: John B. Holbrook, II

Watch Analog watch Rectangle Clock Silver

A. Lange & Söhne is one of the most prestigious and sought-after luxury watch brands in the world, with roots that go back to the Royal Saxon Court. It is from these illustrious surroundings that Adolph Lange, an apprentice to the royal clockmaker, set out toward the Ore Mountains in the 1840s to establish a precision watchmaking industry in Glashütte. He and his successors established new standards in high horology, and it was not long before timekeeping instruments crafted by A. Lange & Söhne ranked among the world’s most coveted treasures. When Germany was reunited in 1990, Lange’s great-grandson Walter Lange returned to Glashütte (previously part of East Germany) to restore the family watchmaking heritage with the same innovative spirit that had brought fame to the town before. Since then, A. Lange & Söhne has introduced some fabulous watches with incredible craftsmanship, unmistakable styling and marvelous horological complications. Introduced at Baselworld 2006, the Lange Datograph Perpetual is the maker’s latest horological mas¬terpiece. Building upon the success of the marvelous Datograph, the Datograph Perpetual combines a classic column wheel chronograph with a perpetual calendar complication—and a few other surprises.

The 41mm case of this impressive piece is constructed entirely of platinum, with a mix of both polished and brushed finishes. The exterior sides of the platinum case feature several pushpieces. These control the chronograph functions of the Datograph Perpetual, but there is also a pushpiece for simultaneously advancing all calendar functions and pushpieces for separately advancing the calendar functions. Not surprisingly, the all-platinum construction gives the Datograph Perpetual considerable heft, but the weight of the watch is balanced nicely by the crocodile leather strap. I found the watch comfortable to wear, despite its large size. The strap is fastened with a case-matching platinum buckle. The exterior look and feel of this piece exhibits classic, elegant execution.

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Through the sapphire crystal, one can appreciate the decidedly Saxon style and layout of the Datograph Perpetual’s dial. Legibility is primary here, despite the abundance of information the dial imparts. Large dial size augments legibility, as does the contrast between the silvery white dial and the silver colored hands and markers (a combination of batons and Roman numerals). One cannot help but admire the balance between the various displays, which enhances the at-a-glance legibility of the hour and minute hands, as well as the chronograph registers used in conjunction with the blued chronograph seconds hand to calculate speeds.

Watch Analog watch Silver Clock Rectangle

Inside the Datograph Perpetual’s case is the marvelous manual¬ly wound Lange Calibre L952.1. The sheer number of functions provided by this new mechanical movement is staggering—a fly back chronograph with jumping minutes counter, perpetual calendar with big date, phases of the moon, day of the week, month, leap-year cycle, small seconds hand with stop seconds and a day/night indicator. A total of 556 individual parts are assembled and adjusted to interact flawlessly in order for these marvelous complications to function in unison. It is a time-consuming process, and a challenge even for the consummate watchmaker.

The movement’s perpetual plate is newly developed, with a patented system for switching the dates. The perpetual module adds an impressive 233 parts to the watch but only 1.9mm to the total 13.5mm thickness of the watch. As an example of A. Lange & Söhne’s craftsmanship, the Datograph Perpetual displays the highest levels of finishing and decorating one is likely to find in a mechanical movement. The view of the Calibre L952.1 provided by the sapphire crystal display back is simply breathtaking. The finely engraved plates and bridges are made of untreated German silver, and the L952.1 incorporates a hand-engraved balance cock. The movement employs 45 jewels to reduce friction at strategic points within the movement. The newly developed in-house manufactured balance runs at 18,000 bph, which produces characteristically slow ticking and one-fifth of a second accuracy in the chronograph. When fully wound, the spring barrel of
the Datograph Perpetual has a power reserve of 36 hours. The Caliber L952.1 is equipped with a stop work, which ensures that the movement is provided with nearly constant torque regardless of the state of wind. The movement is also finely adjusted in five different posi-tions at the factory to ensure accuracy. Amazingly, the Datograph Perpetual’s calendar remains accurate until the year 2100, when it must be manually advanced by one day. The first correction of the highly precise moon-phase display, also by just one day, falls due in 122 years.

Watch Analog watch Silver Rectangle Clock

The A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual unites what are arguable two of the most appealing mechanical complications offered in a wristwatch—the chronograph and the perpetual calendar. The Datograph Perpetual also incorporates a bevy of other mechanical complications and loads of functionality, once again proving that not everything laudable in horology hails from Switzerland. The Datograph Perpetual clearly proves that Saxon watch manufacturers are a force to be reckoned with, and A. Lange & Söhne has reason to be proud of this piece. The A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual has a retail price of $137, 300.00.

**Photos & Text Copyright 2010 WATCH TALK FORUMS INC.. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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