I have a confession: On this occasion I was really not sure how to start this piece! There were a few introductory phrases that competed, but in the end I will just go for it!
I have wanted a Lange for quite some time! There! However, I dithered and this was principally to do with aesthetics. How so? Well, the brand is of course mainly known for one of their first watches, the Lange1, with its four display modes; the offset time dial, large date window, power reserve indicator, and finally a running seconds dial. Although there is symmetry of sorts, for me it was not quite right. OK, I could have then considered the Datograph or Zeitwerk, but they are both pretty dear and in some ways still did not tick all my boxes. No, my yearnings really kept on focusing on the Saxonia range, and in particular the comparatively simple Outsize Date. More precisely, one in rose (i.e. pink) gold and a black dial if possible.
Now, backtracking slightly to my recent article on my Patek 6006G. You will recall oh tortured reader that I was disposed to release this from my collection as it did not quite do it for me. Shortly after completing the article I decided to make more of a concerted effort to do something about this, and preferably not lose a huge sum. Although it would have suited me to sell outright, I knew deep down that this was going to hurt me in the pocketbook too much. As such I decided to scout around to see if there may be something suitable to p/ex with – hopefully a Lange.
After a short period of internet surfing, I discovered that a boutique in Mount Street (London) had, quite possibly, exactly what I sought. Not having heard of the establishment – Ninety Watches & Jewellery Ltd, I fired off an exploratory email simply asking if a part-exchange was possible? I received a reply fairly quickly from one Dean Harding, saying possibly – but what was I considering? I then bit my lip and divulged the candidate with frankly more hope than expectation, mainly as the price differential was not too great. We then had a long chat covering quite a few aspects and it seemed that something might be possible. I also asked Dean for more corporate information as I was not about to trade with a business that I had no knowledge off and was seemingly pretty new. Well, the facts were both interesting and reassuring, in that the business is owned by the RM EMAE Group – basically the UK arm of Richard Mille (RM) no less, and Dean is the general manager. In essence the raison d’etre is to offer pre-owned RM watches in the UK – complimenting somewhat the main boutique in Bond St. A useful by-product is that they also have a small selection of desirable high-end watches – most having been taken in as part-exchanges on RM pieces. Additionally, they would consider a trade on these. So, my lucky day!
So, what was the watch they had and I wanted? Well, none other than a 2018 Saxonia Outsize Date in rose gold and black dial – so, reference 381.031. Although the pricing was a little tricky, Dean said that he would like to do a deal if possible. OK, so after a little batting around we agreed on a price. Yes, I would have liked a little more for the Patek, but I had to be realistic, and of course the Lange was being offered somewhat less than list. So, we agreed on the deal and exchanged watches/money. I must say it was all done very efficiently and I am delighted with the result. I would also just say – without wishing to blow too much smoke up the proverbial, that Dean is a really nice guy to deal with and frankly the whole experience made a refreshing change!
So, I feel a brief review of the watch is warranted, but first a quick bit of history of the brand. Ferdinand Adolph Lange, after having trained under a master watch maker in Dresden, started the business in 1845 in Glashutte, Saxony – so, the eastern side of Germany. He managed to do this by agreeing to train apprentices and therefore received grants from the town council. Things were nonetheless very tough with insufficient capital still, and Adolph (as he was known) and his family had to suffer much financial privations. By 1848 only 17 watches were completed, however, a turning point came in 1851 at the Great Exhibition in London where two crown winding watches caused much interest. A variety of mechanical innovations ensued along with a fair number of awards, and production increased to some 600 pieces. Adolph then died prematurely in 1875 at age 60. By this time his two sons – Emil and Richard were in the business and innovations continued including perpetual calendars and double chronographs. Royalty were now clients and some highly complicated watches were being made – in particular reference 42.500 from 1902 which had 883 components and included a split chronograph, perpetual calendar, and a striking repeater. Emil’s son Otto was now in the business and progressed the business by supplying the military in both wars. All was well until the end of the WW 2 with the bombing of Glashutte and then of course all businesses fell into communist hands. Lange was basically commandeered and put to other works and little was heard of them really until unification in 1990. Walter Lange (Adolph’s great-grandson) then took the helm and registered the company again. Work commenced quickly and four new models were produced in 1994, one being the Lange 1 with its distinctive and quite modern dial layout and another, the Saxonia, offering a more traditional and dress appearance. The stupendous Datograph chronogragh appeared in 1999, followed by the all-analogue Zeitwork in 2010. Coming right up to date is the firm’s first sports watch, Odysseus, in 2019. Today the firm enjoys probably the premier position in German watchmaking, and has a very dedicated and loyal following who appreciate exceptional quality and design. The Writer is most content to now be within this fold!
Returning to the matter in hand, this Saxonia’s rose gold watch case is nicely sized, at some 38.5mm, with a height of 9.6mm. It’s roundness accentuated somewhat by the fairly modest lugs. The case bezel is highly polished, then below this the main body has a brushed finish. Below this is the polished rim of the exhibition case back, which is then brushed too. The lugs emerge from the case vertically, with polished tops and brushing to the sides. The crown at 3’oclock is of a usefully sensible size and shape, with the brand name featured circularly on the end face. At 10’oclock is the date corrector – a small rectangular shape with a brushed finish top and polished sides.
Turning to the dial – made of solid silver, is of course black. On really close inspection (with a loupe) this has a very fine granular finish and causes the appearance to change slightly depending on the light. At the top we have the obvious and large twin gold-framed date window. This contains white numerals on a black background. Under this – in fairly small script, is the brand name and location. Below, the hour and minute hands are in gold and delicately lance/dauphine-shaped. Beneath this is the recessed seconds sub-dial with a concentric guilloche decoration. The hand here is again lance-type, but at the other end a pierced arrowhead counterweight. The gold hour batons appear, at first glance, to be just rectangular. However this is not the case, as they are in fact an elongated pyramid shape – the technical term I am not quite sure of frankly! At the quarter hours, the batons are twin in nature, but at 6 are much smaller to accommodate the seconds sub-dial. In between the batons are minute markers in white. To protect all this is a sapphire crystal.
Turning to the motive side of things, the in-house automatic caliber L086.8 is used. This employs 286 parts – including 40 jewels, beating at 21,600 vph and producing an attractive power reserve of 72 hours. All the mechanism can be observed through the exhibition window which is secured by six tiny recessed screws. The view is perhaps not quite as impressive at first glance as some Lange movements, but when one troubles to inspect further that is really not the case. The caliber is fairly obscured by the large rotor – gold with a platinum edge, and this has the brand name and a granular decoration plus some brushing. Underpinning this is a a pretty large slab of main plate bridge in German Silver, but this has strong Glashutte stripes and more brushing. The outboard lower bridge has nice perlage. As usual with a Lange, the balance cock is finely hand- decorated with a floral design. Water resistance to 30 m is noted.
Finally, the watch is finished off with a black alligator strap with gold pin buckle – the latter finished with a prominent Lange script.
In terms of wearing and use, due to the diameter, height and lug size plus angles, it is a very comfortable wear. The crown and date corrector actions are just fine. I must say the quick flicking over of the date is so welcome!
In conclusion – and although I am usually against hyperbole, hand on heart there is nothing I would really change. So for me this is the perfect watch and as such a real keeper. The gold and black combination is sophisticated and classy. The dial is a lesson in symmetry and simplicity. The movement is of super quality and, whilst a little restrained, the decoration is actually very good. All this, plus great power reserve and decent water resistance. OK, the date corrector slightly alters the case balance, but it is reasonably discrete and for technical reasons probably has to be there, so, I shall not be petty and mark down! Lastly, price? Well, the current retail is £23,500, so by any measure this is an expensive watch. However, for what you get – and when compared to similar competition, I feel the outlay is absolutely fair. Naturally, a good pre-owned example at maybe a few thousand less is even better! Oh, and if you cannot quite muster the cash for a new Richard Mille, then contact Dean at Ninety Mount St and sort something out on a pre-loved one!
Rating: 5/5 (first ever 100%!)
Words and images: The Writer