Recently I had the opportunity to enjoy spending some quality time with not one, but two exceptional timepieces from A. Lange & Söhne. Belonging to the same family, the Saxonia Moonphase and the Saxonia Outsize Date share a very similar aesthetic. In fact, from a distance, you could be forgiven for mistaking them as the same watch. But up close, on the wrist, each piece shows its individual personality. That’s not to say one is necessarily better than the other. Each has its own unique appeal. But, if you had to choose just one, which would it be? That’s the question we’re setting out to answer today. Read on to see if you agree with our thoughts and conclusion.
By now I think it’s fair to say that A. Lange & Söhne is a brand that needs little to no introduction. One of the two major German watch manufacturers, it is well known the world over as maker of precision, high-end timepieces that incorporate traditional techniques and painstaking attention to detail. With low annual production – relatively speaking – and an unfailing commitment to quality, its timepieces have garnered a devoted following.
Entry-level or ultra-high-end… A Lange will always be finished the Lange way!
What makes a Lange watch special to me though, is the fact it doesn’t matter whether is the most complicated or the simplest watch the company makes, the approach is the same. Every aspect has to be perfect. Every component has to be finished to the highest standards possible – even the parts only the watchmakers will ever see. Every detail, no matter how simple, has to be given time and attention. And that, whether we talk about a Triple Split or a Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, or a much simpler time-only Saxonia. A fact that is self-evident on the two watches we have for review here today, as you will soon see. Let’s take a closer look.
Introduced in 2016 with a silver dial, followed by a black dial in 2018, the Saxonia Moonphase incorporates one of my favourite complications from Lange. Purely whimsical – for me at least, anyway – the moonphase is an opportunity for brands to add some motion and some colour to the dial. I’m sure you’ll agree that some do a decidedly better job of this than others. Lange definitely falls into this former category. The brand has developed a patented coating process that gives a richness and intensity to the deep-blue colour of the solid-gold lunar disc. Add to this the 852 laser-cut stars – that’s right, 852 – that adorn the night sky, and you can appreciate why it is so visually appealing.
Connected with the hour wheel, the disc is in constant motion. It doesn’t offer the same visual treat as say a tourbillon, of course, but it does make it exceedingly enjoyable to glance down at your wrist from time to time. Of course, it’s just not about looking good. Once the moonphase is correctly set, the display deviates from the true position of the moon by only one day in 122.6 years, assuming the watch runs without interruption. Certainly, it might not be the most useful complication on a daily basis, but clearly, it adds an incredible charm to the watch.
The version of the Saxonia Moonphase we had in for review is housed in a pink gold case measuring 40mm in diameter by 9.8mm high. It’s paired with a galvanized black dial made from solid silver and matching pink gold hands. Just below 12 o’clock is the famous Lange outsize date framed by pink gold, while running seconds is shown on the sub-dial housing the moon-phase at 6 o’clock. Inside is the self-winding calibre L086.5 consisting of 325 parts. It’s visible through a sapphire caseback and finished to Lange’s exceptional standards.
I really love this piece but make no mistake, this is a luxurious watch. You can, of course, wear it on a daily basis but expect to attract a lot of attention. Admittedly it’s a bit more understated in white gold, particularly with the black dial, but I feel the warmth of the rose gold really elevates this model to that next level. Price is EUR 29,700 including VAT.
Saxonia Outsize Date
Let’s turn our attention now to the Saxonia Outsize Date. Although it was also introduced in 2018 I encourage you to resist the urge to think of this as identical to the watch above just minus a moonphase. It’s not. For a start, the case is both smaller and thinner at 38.5mm in diameter and 9.6mm high. Not a dramatic difference perhaps but one that is definitely noticeable when you try both models on the wrist one after the other. Whether you prefer these slightly reduced dimensions is, of course, a matter of personal preference. I personally have found the Saxonia Outsize Date to be a touch more comfortable for everyday wear.
It also has a very different character. The Saxonia collection is meant to be Lange’s interpretation of contemporary yet minimalist style. And for me, the Saxonia Outsize Date captures this perfectly. It’s elegant yet understated, exuding a sense of sophistication despite its apparent simplicity. This is a classic all-rounder that offers practical functionality in the form of the outsize date but can still suit up for formal occasions too.
One could argue that it’s touch on the boring side, and certainly, it is the more conservative choice of the two… but on the wrist, it has its own unique appeal, a rather formal character, a certain austerity in its symmetry, and that is, surprisingly, quite charming.
Inside the Saxonia Outsize Date is the self-winding calibre L086.8 characterised by a large central rotor with a ball bearing and a platinum centrifugal mass. Delivering a power reserve of 72 hours via one mainspring barrel, this is a weekday warrior you take off on Friday night and put straight back on Monday morning. The base is the same as the movement of the Saxonia Moonphase, minus the astronomical complication. Price is EUR 25,000 including VAT.
Saxonia Moonphase VS. Saxonia Outsize Date… The Choice
The narcissist in me immediately gravitates to the Saxonia Moonphase in rose gold. This is by no means a “showy” watch compared to similar models on the market but there’s just something about that moonphase display that gets me every time. The realist in me though says that the Saxonia Outsize Date is the wiser choice. It’s just that bit smaller for everyday wear, and markedly less ostentatious. If you can call a Lange timepiece ostentatious. Plus, white gold is more in keeping with the minimalist aesthetic of the collection and wears well with just about everything. Not to mention the fact that it still has plenty of character in its own right.
I think the price difference here is to put into perspective… Customers and watch enthusiasts who are able to spend EUR 25,000 on a timepiece are most certainly not in the need, and the extra 5K required for the Moonphase version won’t be a real issue. Now, you can wonder if that difference is justified for just an additional moon indication (I leave the answer to you) but all in all, the choice will mostly go down to aesthetics.
How about you? Do you agree with my assessment or would choose differently? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below.