When this watch was launched, our founder Frank wrote this “On 24 October 2019, A. Lange & Söhne introduced something entirely new, an important step for this usually rather conservative high-end watch brand; it was a sports watch, made in stainless steel, with a bracelet – three unprecedented features for ALS that made this very watch, the Odysseus, a hot topic of conversation.” Since then, the dust should have settled, but the Odysseus remains something of an oddity and a watch that remains highly discussed (also because of its availability). But a few months after the steel version, the brand enlarged the range with a more luxurious, not-so-sporty edition of its sports watch, now made of white gold. We had the opportunity to have a review sample at the office, and here’s what we found out about this A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus in White Gold.
Two things are certain about the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus. It was a bold move from a usually conservative, typically German brand. And it was, despite this, a somehow expected move too. The reason is simple; luxury sports watches with integrated bracelet, watches that combine haute horlogerie feeling with robustness and casualness, are hotter than ever. A sports watch by ALS was a long due concept, but it has been launched at the right time. Something else that should be noted, Lange’s take on the sports watch was indeed… very Lange. There’s no Royal Oak or Nautilus feeling here, the Odysseus is a watch like no other. And a watch that certainly created heated discussions, since everything in this watch felt unprecedented. At least, it made an impression.
In short, what’s Odysseus? Even though it has been created to compete in a category ruled by AP, PP and VC, Lange did things its own way, without trying to be like the rest, but to be a Lange with sporty credentials. As Frank said when he wore the watch for the first time, “This is the Lange, for every Lange owner, that you can wear in the shower, on the beach, in the swimming pool or on the deck of your yacht. Heck, finally a Lange that we can wear without the fear that goes along with wearing a precious gold dress watch.” Meaning, the Odysseus is first and foremost an A. Lange & Söhne watch, with robustness and ease of use. Period. But a few months later came another edition, this time made of 18k white gold, without the metallic bracelet. Quite a change of perception.
The white gold Odysseus
Back to basics. The ALS Odysseus is a Lange in a water-resistant, round-ish case with casualness and daily-wearer credentials in mind. A watch that managed to merge the mechanical beauty of all other Lange watches with the ability to wear the watch pretty much everywhere, anytime, with everything – except where a proper instrument watch would be required. And in that perspective, the use of stainless steel wasn’t only completely unprecedented for Lange (to the exception of a handful of steel Lange 1 watches) but also very much instrumental in the whole design of the watch.
But now, there’s a white gold case available, and without the metallic bracelet. Not a surprise, since AP and PP have long created luxury sports watches in precious metals too. The 18k white gold Odysseus is, for most parts, identical to the inaugural stainless steel version, however, some design aspects have been updated. As for the case, if we put the use of gold apart, nothing has changed. The WG Odysseus still measures 40.5mm in diameter, about 11mm in height and retains the same 120m water-resistance. The crown screws down and the watch features two sapphire crystals, both front and caseback.
The design of the A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus is quite complex and well balanced. At first, it has a perfectly round case, emphasized by the polished bezel. The sides, however, reveal far more complex lines. The right side features a module framing the crown and, even though it isn’t a crown-guard device, it adds dynamism to the case and breaks the overall round design. Those two elements are actually greatly integrated pushers used to adjust the date and the weekday. Even though made of gold, the finishing of the case is the same, with a combination of polished accents and brushed surfaces. All in all, despite the sporty credentials, it still feels entirely in line with the rest of Lange’s production.
What also created this connection with the brand’s DNA is the dial, with a certain Zeitwerk-ish layout. Instead of going for a traditional central HMS display, the brand decided to remain true to its origins and to have a sports watch with a small seconds and two oversized windows to display the day of the week and the date, as always with a double-window and two-disc architecture. What has changed in this white gold edition, besides the obvious new grey colour, is that the brass-based dial gets rid of the concentric pattern for the hour chapter ring and grained central surface, to now show a far more classic – dare I say traditional – combination of textures. The central area of the dial is matte and smooth, while the hour chapter ring has embossed grooves positioned in a radial way – almost like a graphic guilloché pattern. The same texture is found on the periphery of the small seconds.
Under the sapphire caseback ticks a movement that couldn’t be more Lange. The Odysseus came first with an exclusive movement, designed specifically for this collection, and the white gold model retains it entirely. The Calibre L155.1 Datomatic beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) instead of the usual 3Hz that seems to be the preferred frequency for Lange watches. The higher beat rate gives more stability to the balance when experiencing shocks, which makes it more apt for sporty activities and benefits the overall accuracy. The central rotor, embossed with DATOMATIC, features a platinum centrifugal mass and is open-worked. In addition to the classic 3/4 plate in German silver, the Odysseus inaugurated a balance held in place by a transversal bridge, instead of a traditional cock, once again to improve shock resistance. Almost 33mm in diameter, it fills the space offered by the caseback nicely and is decorated with the same refined finishes as all Lange watches.
Finally, the last thing to know about this White Gold A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus is that it’s (for now at least) only available on straps – black rubber as presented here, or brown leather. In both cases, it’s closed by a prong buckle. And before you ask, no you can’t remove the end-links between the lugs, and no you can’t wear it on a classic strap.
When the stainless steel Odysseus was presented, I (and most of the MONO team) had mixed feelings, easily understandable since the watch was truly unprecedented. However, once the watch was on my wrist and once you remove the image of the RO and Nautilus from your mind, I not only understood the whole concept behind this watch, but also really enjoyed my time with it.
Now, with the white gold, I might change my position. Sure, the following feelings are subjective and personal. And, to make things clear, the white gold A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus is a superbly executed watch. However, now that the watch comes in precious metal, I somehow miss the casual attire of the original steel model, which was something that truly set the watch apart. Also, the new grey dial is, in my opinion, not as striking as the dial used on the steel model. Not only the grey colour is too shy, but the new patterns are bringing back the watch in classic territories, while it should have remained on the sporty side of things. The combination of grained and concentric textures was more dynamic, something this white gold isn’t anymore for me.
The second thing comes from comfort. While the overall weight of the white gold watch is probably about the same as the stainless steel model on its bracelet, the weight distribution is entirely different. The size of the case is still great and I have no issue to address on this side. However, due to the use of gold for the case and rubber for the strap, the watch feels top-heavy and somehow loses its natural balance. That might just be me, and I’m encouraging anyone interested in this watch to try it. You’ll possibly have a completely different feeling on your own wrist.
Availability & Price
The A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus in white gold is now available from boutiques and retailers. It is priced at EUR 42,400 (with German VAT), USD 43,500 or GPB 37,700.
For more details, please visit www.alange-soehne.com.