It is no secret that A. Lange & Söhne makes a good watch. Heck, you could even go so far as to say that they make a magnificent opinion, and I really don’t think anyone would argue with you. But a byproduct of being among the highest echelons of watchmakers is the focus tends to get put exclusively on their exceptional pieces. But this year, my private Lange highlight isn’t the grandest complication — it’s the 1815 Annual Calendar.
Following SIHH 2017, this watch was something of a sleeper hit. While watches such as the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control, the Panthère p Cartier, the Vacheron Constantin Celestia, and even the Zeitwerk Decimal Strike from Lange were all getting lots of love, the 1815 Annual Calendar sort of slipped through the cracks. I listed it as my favorite grail watch at the time, but knew I had to spend more time with it. Now, after spending a complete week together with the watch ardently on my wrist, I can say without question my instincts were right: this is one amazing watch. However, it’s not without its flaws, and there’s even just a small bit of controversy concerning the 1815 Annual Calendar one of Lange purists.
What Is An Yearly Calendar?
“When was the first yearly calendar introduced” My colleague Ben Clymer once asked this question of our then-20-year-old intern, who fancied himself a fairly significant watch guy. This was, at one point, something of mild-mannered hazing from Ben to novice watch fans. Our intern’s response? “I’d guess mid 1800s sometime?”
Don’t Make This Mistake
An annual calendar is not the same thing than a triple or”simple” calendar. It’s also different in the perpetual calendar. Learn the differences today so that you do not inspire another HODINKEE narrative like that 1 .
Indeed, the annual calendar was made only 21 years back by Patek Phillippe, and initially generated as the reference 5035. The notion, which was really one of the earliest”mid-tier” complications to come from a significant brand, was a fantastic commercial measure for Patek, if a bit ho-hum in terms of horological innovation. Instead of a simple calendar where you must manually adjust the date at the end of every month, the annual calendar compensates for all those months with 30 days. That could be an incredible achievement! That’s, obviously, had the calendar, which compensates for not just shorter months but also for all leap years, hadn’t been widely utilized in horology for the greater part of two centuries.
Exactly what the watch was lost than a perpetual calendar, was a moon-phase screen and needless to say, a leap year index. Unlike a endless, the annual calendar doesn’t account for a Leap Year, so it has to be adjusted once per year in the end of February (in both Leap Years and non-Leap Years; since we mentioned, the annual calendar only distinguishes between 30 and 31-day weeks ).
But if you are a diehard calendar freak (bless you), then re-setting your watch in the end of every February might appear dull, and in the event that you therefore wish to splurge to the mac-daddy perpetual calendar complication — fine. If you’re not, and you are okay with the excess work that is required to find your setting snare (that always seems to go missing) and push a button twice, then the annual calendar is to you — despite the Lange we are going to enter, no pin is necessary.
Other manufacturers followed suit and also produced their own annual calendar wristwatches, with Bulgari, Breitling, Omega, and A. Lange & Söhne tourbillon replica watches all making the complication through recent years. Even Rolex creates an yearly calendar in its Sky-Dweller.
Nonetheless, the yearly calendar watch is still not nearly as prominent as its older, more complicated sibling. This is very true when it comes to A. Lange & Söhne 1815 chronograph replica watches— besides the watch we’ve here, the Saxonia Annual Calendar is the only other yearly in Lange’s line-up. It had been released in 2010 and nothing new was released since then. This could very well be for a reason — that the annual calendar is a significantly easier complication to produce than a perpetual and many purists believe that it is beneath the level of refinement expected from the likes of Patek Philippe, Lange & Söhne, and Vacheron Constantin. An annual calendar is logical for the Omega, a Rolex, also IWC, but not a top tier manufacturer, is what they’d assert. However, the needs of a purist is not what sells watches (at leastnot only ) and the annual calendar remains a popular product in both high-end and mid-tier watch brands.
The 1815 Family
To know this new yearly calendar, an individual must first understand that the 1815 family. The 1815 set was first introduced in 1996, and is a nod to the arrival of Ferdinand A. Lange, the brand’s original founder. It is characterized by the large, painted Arabic numerals that mimic those of ancient pocket watches. This layout attribute is repeated through the entire collection, which ranges from a time-only wristwatch to, well, much more. As you can see, the Annual Calendar fits well into this group, with its own well-balanced dial and conspicuous Arabic numerals.
The most complex A. Lange & Söhne grand lange imitation watch ever created, the 50mm, $2.6million Grand Complication is actually a part of their 1815 family. It is possible to watch an exclusive video we made on this incredible watch here.
The 1815 Collection ranges from the super-simple time-only watch to the super-complicated Grand Complication. There is a single time-only model; a single up-down (power book ); two chronographs; 2 tourbillons; one rattrapante chronograph perpetual calendar, one”Tourbograph” perpetual calendar, and one grand disadvantage. Nearly every complication was addressed in this collection, so the annual calendar is a welcome inclusion in more ways than one. Not only is it more approachable from a technical standpoint, it fits nicely into the pricing structure of Lange and the 1815 Collection.
The 1815 Annual Calendar comes in two metals — white and rose gold. As you might know, I’m a sucker for white metals and decided to go with the white gold version you see here. The case measures 40mm in diameter and 10.1mm thick. It’s the sole 40mm watch at the 1815 collection, together with the rest which range from 38.5mm for the time-only version, to 55mm for the Grand Complication.
Watches in 40mm can be many things to a lot of people — too big for a few, too small for others, and yet only right for many others. The precise proportions and the details can make a major difference. For instance, Lange bezels are inclined to be on the thinner side, along with the bezel here is no exception, making the watch wear a little big. On the other hand, the watch neatly balances being equally slender and sturdy, and it feels a controlling presence in the palm of your hands, with the ideal piece of heft, as anyone who has had the opportunity to deal with a Lange knows nicely.
One of the best things about the situation is that the brushed ring across the sides. Not every producer pays attention to details such as this, but Lange does, and it help places the German watchmaker’s creations apart from those of competitors. The mix of this polished, rounded bezel and the brushed case band adds depth and contrast to what would otherwise be a relatively traditional case.
The lugs are slightly on the small side for a 40mm case. While this may easily ruin the balance of an otherwise great watch, that’s not true for your 1815 Annual Calendar. The briefer lugs really allow the case to feel smaller on the wrist, which is a plus for people who may be afraid to choose the 40mm plunge. But the very best part about this case? The day/date corrector button situated at two o’clock.
With the 1815, you may simply push the richly curved rectangular button at two o’clock along with the day and date will advance concurrently. Consider yourself #blessed for not having do deal with the hassle that is corrector pins.
That means if you allow your watch go over three days between windings (state you leave it on your dresser during a very long weekend, as an example), you will need to correct the date and day. Luckily, you can just push the beautifully curved rectangular button and the date and day will advance simultaneously. Consider yourself #blessed for saving the extra minute you’d otherwise spend fiddling with corrector buttons. For many other setting demands though you will need to change over to the traditional flush-set correctors (along with a setting pin) that are fine, but not quite as effective — though with the 1815 Annual Calendar, then you will just have to, in theory, use these after. This kind of quick-correction system seems like something which needs to be common on calendar watches, but it’s actually anything but. I really appreciated having it .
One of my favourite aspects of this watch was that it was really easy to set. With the push of the button, you can change the date and day simultaneously.
The silvered dial is both legible and balanced using three subsidiary dials and glowing blued steel hands.
The dial on the Annual Calendar is most likely my favourite thing about the watch overall. It’s slick, legible, and exhibits all the necessary information directly and obviously. Everything has a purpose and a place. First things first: the dial color is a matte silver, with brushing so fine you can’t even detect the texture in most light conditions. It has a type of unique glow though, radiating from the light and maintaining a subtle luster in darker conditions.
There are three sub-dials; just one for the month, another for your moonphase and running seconds, and a third for the date and day. Every sub-dial is meticulously crafted, together with the text laid out with incredible balance. A continuous motif on the dial is concentric circles. The middle of the dial is recessed, with all the sub-dials placed centrally over the recessed lineup, all seeming to be on the exact same plane. This offers the dial thickness, and makes it all the more intriguing to gaze at through the day.
The palms are glowing blued steel that contrasts nicely against the cool silvered dial. The same blue is represented from the moonphase (true for as many as 122 years, mind you) which is dusted with stars also. However, I think that the thing I love the most is the way that the text is set out throughout. The two sub-dials for your day/date and the month both feature a lot of text so much in fact that lots of watchmakers would end up with a total mess. Not Lange, however. No, they have managed to make a satisfying display of information which is both visually striking and practical, though when the watch was launched, the same purists that likely protested Patek making an yearly calendar in 1996 whined against”Annual Calendar” being written on the right sub-dial.
The question of owning a manually-winding movement rather than an automated motion, is a time-old watch narrative and is much debated about amongst purists (more on that later). While I am typically an automatic gal (I confess, I like to grab and move ), I believe there is a time and location for every sort of movement. For your 1815 Annual Calendar, I believe the manual-winding motion is crucial for many reasons. One, without a rotor or cute micro-rotor, the watch comes with a thinner profile that ultimately means it is more comfortable. Secondly, obtaining a hand-wound movement enables one to appreciate this view every day whilst winding it, and let us get real, if you are likely to spend $40,400 you ought to be appreciating this watch all of the time. Thirdly, Lange makes an exceptional manual-winding motion and that I mean unique . The story doesn’t finish here, and I’ll bring up the entire manual versus automatic back again after.
The caliber L051.3 is magnificent. With this manual-winding movement you get the beautifully hand-finished Italian silver three-quarter plated movement with over-sized rubies set in gold screwed chatons, a subtle but purposeful aesthetic. Another thing that I love about the Lange movements are the hand-engraved balance-cocks, they include a fine flourish of detail that is often overlooked. But the thing I love about this movement is that the 1.4mm thick yearly calendar module, which further allows the watch to quantify 10.10mm thick, which allows for easy wearing. This only goes to show how Lange always wins marrying kind and high-performing function.
A Week On The Wrist
I must say, I was worried when the 1815 Annual Calendar arrived in the workplace. A complex watch like an yearly calendar watch may be somewhat intimidating, particularly for somebody who generally wears a stainless steel chronograph. Moreover, the 40mm instance looked larger than I remembered it at SIHH (I blame the jet lag). But once I set this puppy in my wrist, my fears quickly dissipated.
As I mentioned, a 40mm diameter can be touch and go, based on the watch. While my Daytona is also 40mm, it is a tool watch and (at least me) would feel silly considerably smaller or bigger. In the same diameter and 10.10mm thick, the 1815 is compact and refined, however understated (that is tough to achieve) allowing you to wear it comfortably with jeans and a t-shirt, or equally well with a lawsuit. I will not make so bold as to state you could wear it with a tuxedo, but if you were in a pinch, I don’t think I would blame you.
My only suggestion for this watch is to mix this up together with the strap. I wore it on either the black alligator strap which accompanied the opinion, and one of the HODINKEE Shop’s Olive Green Suede straps. Of course, each serves a different function, but I was amazed at the flexibility of this watch once the strap has been changed. It instantly felt as a daily wear bit when paired with a more casual strap option. My only qualm (if you can call it that) is that this view — nay, all Langes, in my view — should come on a deployant buckle. The head of the watch is large, and also a little Lange pin buckle felt much too delicate to encourage it.
Now that you understand exactly what the 1815 Annual Calendar is all about, it’s worth considering what other yearly calendars are out there. Simply speaking, there are not many that are at this level of craftsmanship and finishing. As soon as I began to dig , it was quite obvious to me that this complication is much rarer than I expected. That said, there are a few good choices out there you ought to know about.
A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Annual Calendar
The A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Annual Calendar in platinum includes an automatic movement and retails for $54,800 ($48,800 in white gold).
If you did not think this was forthcoming, I don’t understand what you’re thinking. As far as the basics go, this view is smaller at 38.5mm in diameter and in the centre is the signature oversized date display that Lange is famous for (arguably one of the greatest date displays out there). The more minimal design allows for easy reading, and the automated motion is great for those who don’t necessarily wish to wind their view everyday. But, I believe that 1815 is undoubtedly a step up aesthetically and functionally, though both may be debated. The Saxonia Annual Calendar comes in platinum, white gold, or rose gold, with all the white gold version costing $48,800. That’s greater than $8,000 over the 1815 Annual Calendar.
The Patek Philippe Reference 5396 is another competitor but also comes with an automatic motion.
The mention 5396 is one of the more desirable modern Pateks on the market. Using a similar aesthetic to my beloved reference 3448, the ref. 5396 is what modern Patek dreams are made from. It has pure and simple charm and a reliable and stunning movement indoors. The circumstance is 38.5mm plus it stays low on the wrist, making it a wonderful watch for almost any occasion (except diving). The movement is the automated caliber 324 S QA LU 24H/303, that has a 45-hour electricity reserve. It displays the day, date, month, and moonphase with three apertures and a lone sub-dial.
When comparing the ref. 5396 into the 1815 Annual Calendar, for me it is about that dial design. Both are beautiful, functional, and well designed; it’s only a matter of that is much more suited to your taste. With the ref. 5396 priced at $47,970, budget might be a concern also. You pay a serious premium for your Patek Philippe, making the 1815 Annual Calendar seem more wallet-friendly.
IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar Reference 5035
The IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar reference 5035 includes a heavier dial display and retails for $31,600.
For something a bit different, there’s the IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar reference 5035. The ref. 5035 was released back in 2015 and got a fantastic reception. Jack went hands on with it and it certainly filled a void in the annual calendar market. Based on the classic Portugieser (née Portuguese), it is 44.5mm in diameter, which for an average size individual is pretty darn big. It’s powered but the automated caliber 52850, which has a seven-day power book; considerably longer than every other annual calendar I could find.
Even though the silvered dial is informative and attractive, I locate the 3 window date, and month display at the top busy. Some may like it, but to me it lacks balance and elegance. Price could be a big motivating factor here, with the watch coming in at $21,300 in stainless steel (and a less compelling $31,600 in red gold), offering a way for people to get into an annual calendar at a substantially lower price point. If the complication itself is what you are primarily looking for, this could be an alternate to the 1815 Annual Calendar — otherwise I don’t think it’s competing for the identical audience.
The Purists Versus Reality For The Future Of Lange
Something that few out of the very inner-cicles of all Lange-dom would know about, but I think is worth repeating here, is that when this watch was revealed at SIHH this season, a set of collectors were fairly vocal (amongst each other) about how frustrated they were in the product. Why? They felt this view simply made no sense as a Lange — using a complication invented by its greatest rival and pairing it with a manually wound motion to, in their opinion, match a very specific cost point of sub-$45,000. First, if a watch’s modus operandi is to be a calendar, why do it within an 1815 without a oversize date? Secondly, an annual calendar is all about convenience, so why can it be manually wound? Sure, it is thinner, but come oncalendar watches must be self-winding! Actually, is that the sole manually wound yearly calendar in the world? I can not think of the other off the top of my mind but there must be others out there — feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments.
The lack of outsized and automatic winding system, and also the addition in the 1815 family, surely allowed this watch to be less costly than its Saxonia sibling. And to this one set of collectors — the kind of collectors who were purchasing Langes in the’90s and have owned nearly all them — it did not sit well. It is as if they almost needed this opinion to be more expensive. I understand the thinking of those astute collectors a few of whom I’m lucky enough to predict pals, however I think they are, to put it simply, wrong. In reality, I think that it’s that type of thinking that’s put the whole high-end watch industry in a challenging spot to start with.
Allow me to clarify. I concur, this view really isn’t the most”Lange” Lange to come from Saxony. However, what it is, is a solid complication by a great brand at a really affordable price. And yes, it is manually wound, making no sense if you own 10 high-end watches. But that is not who Lange is targeting with this timepiece, they are targeting the young man or girl (possibly about my age) who wants his or her very first high-end, complex watch. So it should be manually wound — because that’s what enthusiasts want today. Further, anyone whining that this view is”priced too low” is simply living in a universe that doesn’t come close to mine, or I’d imagine the majority of this planet. As soon as I found out that Lange had left a complex calendar opinion under $45,000, I was thrilled!
The previous time I had been this excited? As soon as I found you could buy a fresh Saxonia 37mm for below $15,000. Lange is clearly making a concerted attempt to provide their distinct new luxury watchmaking to more individuals every year, and I know for a fact that the 37mm Saxonia cannot be kept in stock. And what is more, individuals are paying full retail for it instead of pursuing used bits from resellers. I expect exactly the same thing with the yearly calendar — when you create a compelling product and price it appropriately, you produce a much stronger connection with your clients and I’m thrilled to see Lange taking these steps, regardless of what the old guard says.
So there you have it, the 1815 Annual Calendar in A. Lange & Söhne is one of the very wearable and exceptional watches launched this year. While the yearly calendar function is still regarded as a mid-level complication, I think the 1815 elevates it, sporting like a considerably more complex (and far more expensive) watch than it is. Discovering that there are so few yearly calendars on the market, and even fewer worth buying, only sets it apart even more as a watch I not only love but might actually think about purchasing some day.
This relatively new complication deserves much more credit from collectors and also a lot more attention from watchmakers, especially once you consider that an entry-level modern perpetual calendar begins at almost double the 40,400 cost of this 1815. To put things in perspective, this year’s Patek Philippe reference 5320G perpetual calendar will set you back $81,200 along with the A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual fetches $84,200 in white gold.
If you’re seeking to break into the world of serious complications without needing broke, this watch is a clear front runner on the market and a watch you need to spend some time with yourself. It has what you want and need, and then a few.