Six months ago, in October 2019, A. Lange & Söhne unveiled the Odysseus, its first luxury steel sports watch. Unlike the icons that have dominated this segment for decades, the Odysseus struck out with its very own personality inciting mixed reactions. The Achilles’ heel of this watch, at least gauging by the comments of our readers, was the steel bracelet. Beautifully finished according to Lange’s high standards and with an ingenious extension system, there was something about the bracelet that for many just didn’t look quite right. Well, looks like the folks at Lange have been listening because today a new version of the Odysseus is launched in a white gold case with a grey dial and an integrated black rubber or leather strap. And what a difference it makes!
The inaugural voyage of Odysseus
It shouldn’t really come as a surprise; other luxury sports watches, like AP’s Royal Oak of 1972, were originally met with conflicting responses. The Odysseus, launched on 24 October 2019 – 25 years to the day of the first collection that marked ALS’s revival – was the brand’s take on the luxury sports watch, its first ‘sporty-elegant’ everyday model housed in a stainless steel case. Not only was it the first steel model for the brand, but it was also the first model with 120m water-resistance, the first model with a metallic integrated bracelet, and it was equipped with a new movement developed especially for Odysseus that would become the cornerstone for Lange’s sixth watch family.
What’s new, what’s not
Almost everything – dimensions, case finishes, functionality, movement and elements on the dial – are identical to the inaugural version. What has changed though is the case material, now 18k white gold, the dial colour, now grey with different finishes, and the integrated strap, now in either rubber or leather.
The 40.5mm three-part, 18k white gold case has a thickness of 11.1mm and displays the same contrasting polished and brushed finishes as the previous model. The prominent rounded and polished bezel sits on top of a middle case with its asymmetrical module framing the crown. These are not crown guards (the crown is screwed down to ensure the 120m WR), but instead, house the two pushers to adjust the outsize date and large weekday indications. Another important visual function is how this device containing the pushers breaks up the rotundity of the case and gives the watch some contrasting angles.
The new grey dial colour adds a touch of formality to the watch and the decoration of the hour chapter has changed from a concentric pattern to an embossed structure with deep grooves, also used on the outer perimeter of the small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. Another difference is the smooth surface of the centre of the dial, unlike the grained texture of the blue version.
All the trimmings on the dial, from the hour and minute hands to the applied and faceted baton hour markers, are 18k white gold and feature a streak of luminescence in the centre. The numerals of the outsize date and the letters of the large format day display stand out in white on grey. With their height of 2.4mm, they are both extremely easy to read. A silvered 60-min flange features a red number 60, the only trace of colour on the monochromatic dial.
The big novelty
There is no denying that the new integrated rubber and leather straps change the look of the watch radically making it more streamlined, sleeker, sportier, younger, more agile, less cumbersome…
However, in all fairness, and as Frank duly reported in his Opinion article of the Odysseus last year – a watch that he fell in love with in just 60 seconds – the bracelet might have looked as though it was integrated into the case, but it wasn’t. “In fact, the watch features proper lugs – shaped in the usual Lange way – which means that, if you feel like it, it could be worn on a leather or rubber strap too.” Which in turn means that from day one the bracelet was designed to be removed… Was Lange testing the waters with the steel bracelet?
Whether or not this part is true, the new bracelets represent a huge change. The black rubber strap features two central embossed canals that continue from the lug modules. The leather option will be a dark brown colour with a grey seam; both the rubber and leather strap come with a white gold prong buckle.
Calibre L155.1 Datomatic
A special manufacture calibre, the L155.1 Datomatic, was developed exclusively for the Odysseus. Its name is the combination of date mechanism and automatic winding. In keeping with its functionality as a sports watch, the frequency is of 28,800vph/4Hz instead of the usual 3Hz of Lange watches. The higher beat rate gives more stability to the balance when experiencing shocks, which makes it more apt for sporty activities. It is also sort of an industry standard for sports watches and will benefit accuracy – note that the movement is precision-adjusted in five positions.
The black rhodium-plated central rotor has a platinum centrifugal mass and is openworked to allow a view of the beautifully finished movement and decorated bridges, decorated and assembled (twice) by hand. Most of the parts are held in place by the signature ¾ plate, but the balance cock you find on most movements is replaced with a bridge held down at two points, again to improve shock-resistance. The traditional floral decorations have also been exchanged for a wave pattern, in keeping with the name of the watch.
The L155.1 Datomatic boasts a power reserve of 50 hours and measures 32.9mm in diameter, meaning it is large enough to fill the case – always pleasant when looking through the sapphire caseback. The bridges and mainplate are made from German silver and hand-decorated with polished bevels, Glashütte ribbing, blued screws – including one screwed gold chaton for the escapement – circular graining, black-polished steel parts…true to Lange’s meticulous attention to detail.
The A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus in white gold will retail for EUR 39,500. More information at alange-soehne.com.