A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual
The most difficult part of being a journalist is keeping an open mind. It’s easy to pick favourites, to develop brand allegiances, and it’s a struggle to keep on the straight and narrow path of moral righteousness. The A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual isn’t making it any easier.
Quick spec list: the Datograph Perpetual has—breathe in—the time, a big date, day, day/night, month, leap year, moonphase and a flyback chronograph, all in a case only 13mm thick and 41mm in diameter. It has a silver dial that somehow manages to display all that information while remaining clear and clutter free.
A closer look impresses further. The offset subdials lend balance to the big date layout, with the moonphase tucked neatly in between. Pusher action can only be described as sublime, giving a solid click that is oh-so satisfying. Look closer still and the microscopic world presented to you gets ever better. The word ‘finish’ feels almost sacrilegious for a watch like this, because the level of quality is so high that it couldn’t possibly have been achieved by mortal hands.
Turn the watch over, and any journalist’s moral compass is sure to be knocked for six. German silver, decorated with Geneva stripes and perlage, hand engraved on the balance cock and hand bevelled everywhere else, the calibre L952.1 sitting behind the sapphire caseback is nothing short of a masterpiece. To spend hours looking at it wouldn’t be a hyperbolic suggestion; there is so much to see, so much to enjoy. A. Lange & Söhne may be considered a functional, German brand, but when it comes to the movement, the creative flair is unparalleled. Levers and springs curl and wind with organic precision, layer upon layer of fine detail merging and meshing with the elegance of only the finest craftsmanship. Waxing lyrical? There’s no other way.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that the L952.1 is some kind of show pony—it’s a thoroughbred racing horse. The flyback chronograph has a jumping minutes complication and a column wheel, the calendar has a quick-set pusher, the balance a swan neck regulator. Screwed gold chatons keep four of the 45 jewels true, while hand polished screws keep all 556 components in check. All this is squeezed into a movement just 8mm thick; A. Lange & Söhne may not make ultra-thin movements, but the complications they do make are astonishingly so.
It’s so, so hard to find anything wrong with this watch. It’s expensive, £93,900, but that’s the price you’ve got to pay for utter perfection. The power reserve is a little short at 36 hours, but if you don’t wear it every day, you don’t deserve to wear it at all. It’s a visual and technical triumph; in my opinion, more so than its Swiss counterparts. I tried to withhold my bias for this brand, I really did—but with the Datograph Perpetual it’s just too difficult.
Watch Spec | A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual
Case | 18kt rose gold Dimensions | 41mm Crystal | Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance | 30m Movement | Calibre L952.1, manual Frequency | 18,000vph Power Reserve | 36 hours Strap | Brown leather Functions | Time, big date, day, day/night, month, leap years, moonphase, flyback chronograph