A.Lange & Söhne’s classic Langematik Perpetual comes of age and is regaled with a refined honey gold suit and some decorative touches on the dial. When it was introduced in 2001, the Langematik Perpetual was the first watch with a self-winding movement to combine a perpetual calendar with an outsize Lange date. Eighteen years down the line, the technical specs are identical to the original but the emperor has new clothes. Is it just a case of a new suit, or is this the final iteration of Lange’s beloved model?
Revival of the fittest
With such an illustrious Saxon history stretching back to 1845, it is easy to forget that Lange’s second golden age began in 1994 and that in a period of just 25 years, the brand has created a dynasty of spectacular watches and become the reference of German watchmaking. The Langematik Perpetual, launched just seven years after the brand’s resurrection, is considered one of the finest perpetual calendars on the scene today.
Regarded as a true demonstration of horological kudos, the Langematik Perpetual will keep perfect track of the date – if it is kept ticking – until the year 2100. The perpetual calendar functions take the different durations of the months as well as the leap years into account and, once the watch is correctly set, you won’t have to adjust the date display for the next 80 or so years – again, if it is kept ticking. With its modest dimensions (38.5mm x 10.2mm) and dignified, classic styling, this watch has ‘family heirloom’ written all over it.
Honey Gold: A Case for Perpetuity
Honey Gold is a proprietary alloy developed by A. Lange & Söhne and strictly reserved for the Saxon manufacture’s most exclusive timepieces. Honey Gold was not originally created for aesthetic purposes, it was designed to be more scratch-resistant than normal gold alloys – and even platinum. Once the secret ingredients had been mixed and the desired resilience obtained, ALS quickly patented the formula and, since 2010, uses Honey Gold to dress its stellar pieces.
Less strident and brassy than yellow gold, warmer than white gold, and less coppery than pink gold, the only way to appreciate the unique beauty of honey gold is by seeing it in the metal. It is understated, elegant and tasteful, very much in the spirit of Saxon aesthetics. The downside of this particularly hard gold alloy is that its resilience to scratches is matched by its resilience to tools and proves devilishly difficult to shape and finish, more difficult in fact than working with platinum. As Wilhelm Schmid points out in MONOCHROME’S live from SIHH 2019 video, honey gold is “so hard to machine, it could never be used in normal production”.
The Langematik Perpetual is the eighth timepiece in Lange’s portfolio to be anointed with a honey gold case and looks very different, more stately if you will than the former versions of this watch in yellow, white and rose gold as well as platinum. The bezel and lugs are mirror polished and the middle segment of the contoured case contrasts with its straight graining finish. Unlike the early models of the Langematik Perpetual with their prominent pusher on the caseband, all the calendar displays can be advanced individually or collectively with a recessed button at 10 o’clock.
The solid silver argenté dial reveals the meticulous attention to detail and finishes for which Lange is renowned. The patented and signature outsize date window dominates the scenery of the upper third section of the dial. The calendar functions are arranged in two recessed and snailed sub-counters with days of the week and the day/night indicator at 9 o’clock, and the month with a small intersecting leap year indicator at 3 o’clock. A highly precise moon phase complication with small seconds at 6 o’clock will relay the phases of the month and only need a one-day adjustment in 122.6 years. All the hands for the separate indications are made from honey gold, as are the applied Roman numerals. In a concession to legibility, the hour, minute, month and day of the week hands feature a strip of luminescent material.
The Langematik Perpetual is the only calendar watch in the current collection to feature Roman numerals on the dial – all the other watches of the Saxonia collection now features baton markers. This choice endows the watch with a more classical, august and traditional personality than other Lange models. The addition of the embossed circle bearing the Roman numerals certainly adds depth and dimension to the dial but, in my opinion, it reinforces the highly classical air. The first impression is that the decorative ring was the result of hand guilloché, but it has been machined on the solid silver surface of the dial.
Calibre L922.1 Sax-O-Mat
The new Langematik Perpetual in honey gold uses the same calibre (the L922.1, based on the Sax-O-Mat movement) that powered the first 2001 model. As Frank explained in his coverage of the watch, the Langematik is one of the few Lange models equipped “with the comfort of a self-winding movement, and not just any self-winding movement, but one of the few watches that feature a 3/4 rotor. It still ‘obscures’ a large part of the movement but that’s not an issue with movements that are built up with 3/4 plates. More importantly, it does not obscure the view on the balance and the beautifully hand-engraved balance cock. The 3/4 rotor is actually an interesting solution. You have the comfort of a self-winding movement, a rotor that does not obscure the view of the most intriguing part of the movement, namely the balance, and in terms of winding power, it will outperform every micro-rotor”. The three-quarter rotor is executed in 21k yellow gold with a platinum outer ring to add centrifugal mass and charges quickly offering 46 hours of autonomy. The finishes on the rotor are superb with a mix of brushed and frosted surfaces.
Another feature of the movement is the patented zero-reset mechanism. When the crown is pulled out, the balance is stopped and the seconds hand advances to the zero position simplifying time setting. The movement is a beauty; the touch of colour offered by the blued screws and gold chatons bearing the rubies, the three-quarter plate and bridges decorated with the characteristic ripple of Glashütte ribbing, the perlage on the plates, the bevelled and polished edges and naturally, the hand-engraved balance cock decorated with floral motifs – all unequivocal signs of its Saxon maker.
A classic in the pantheon of perpetual calendars, the Langematik Perpetual Honeygold is a seriously beautiful watch. The subtle golden aura of honey gold gives the case a unique warmth but it also singles out the watch as a collector’s timepiece. Perhaps the most classic in spirit of all Lange’s watches due to the Roman numerals, there is one tiny thing that jars in my mind: the lume on the hands. With such a distinguished and noble timepiece, is the lume too much of a concession to modernity?
With this honey gold suit, the watch completes its catwalk of precious metal outfits (we’ve seen it in all three shades of gold, platinum and now honey gold). Which gets us thinking, does this honey gold edition signal its swan song? It could be, as this limited edition is now the only one available.
Price and availability
Limited to 100 pieces, the A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual Honeygold retails for EUR 85,000. More details at www.alange-soehne.com.