Coinciding with the thirtieth anniversary of the revival of A. Lange & Söhne, a new argenté version of the Saxonia Outsize Date was released in December 2020 to sit alongside the existing black dial models of 2018. Identical in specifications to the 2018 Outsize Date, the novelty here was a new silvery-coloured dial. What might have been interpreted as a cosmetic touch marked a significant change in mood as the Outsize Date navigated back into more classic waters. Available in 18k white or pink gold cases, we were able to spend some time with the pink gold model.
As all of our readers steeped in A. Lange & Söhne lore know, the Saxonia was part of the initial quartet of watches launched in 1994 by Walter Lange and Günter Blümlein to mark the renaissance of the brand. The name ‘Saxonia’ was chosen to honour the German region of Saxony where Ferdinand Adolph Lange erected his manufacture.
Although most of us associate Lange’s iconic outsize date with the Lange 1, the first Saxonia also had an outsize date. The reason it was overlooked or looked so different from the Lange 1 was that the big date was not off-centred; it was placed smack in the centre, just below noon. Counterbalanced by a small seconds counter below, the rigid symmetry of the Saxonia gave it a completely different, more formal personality from the Lange 1.
Since its debut in 1994 as a 33.9mm gold wristwatch with big date and small seconds, the Saxonia has become increasingly difficult to pin down given the diversity of models in the family. Ranging from simple time-only watches like the Saxonia Automatic and Saxonia Thin, the collection moves up the ladder of complications with hyper-complex members like the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon and the Triple Split. The main thematic consistency is quality; no matter how simple or complex, all Lange’s watches are crafted to impeccably high standards. In 2018, the Saxonia Outsize Date in 38.5mm pink and white gold cases with lustrous black dials was launched. In 2020, we were treated to the same case variants, but now with silver-coloured (argenté) dials.
With its modest proportions (38.5mm diameter x 9.6mm height) – at least by today’s standards – and its refined simplicity, the Saxonia Outsize Date could very well pass as a dress watch (some will quibble about the date function). There are other candidates, like the sublime Saxonia Thin, that might be dressier, but the Outsize Date conquers the dullness of many dress watches precisely with its big date display.
Although I prefer the off-centred configuration of the Lange 1, the big date window on the Saxonia gives the watch its solid Saxon personality. You really couldn’t mistake this for anything but a Lange. Its generous proportions – the digits are about three times larger than those on a conventional watch – command your attention and refer back to a chapter in the brand’s history. The double date window was inspired by the famous clock crowning the stage of the Semper Opera House in Dresden. Designed to be visible from every seat in the audience, Dresden court clockmaker Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes came up with an ingenious Five-Minute digital clock displaying the hours and five-minute intervals in separate windows. Not only was Gutkaes the mentor of Ferdinand Adolph Lange and eventually his partner, but he would also become his father-in-law after Lange’s married his daughter. Appearing in every family of Lange’s watches (except the 1815), the patented big date window is an iconic feature of the Saxon brand.
Made from solid silver, the immaculate argenté dial of the Saxonia Outsize Date is less domineering, less austere than the glossy black dial of the earlier edition. With its lighter colour, the dial attracts more light and luminosity. This elegant radiance imbues the watch with a more classic, timeless spirit. The simple baton hour markers reinforce the tight symmetry achieved by counterbalancing the date window at 12 with the subsidiary seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. Like the hands, the hour markers are crafted in solid pink gold, with clearly defined chamfers and polished finishings. Creating contrast with the silvery dial is the small seconds sub-counter with its snailed interior and black markings. Other details, like the same font used for the Arabic numerals in the date display and small seconds, attest to the coherent design of the watch.
Aficionados of Lange will note that the Saxonia Outsize Date is actually closer to the Langematik Big Date models (1997-2007), the first automatic watch family powered by the first automatic movement known as the Sax-O-Mat calibre L921. However, in 2011 the legendary Sax-O-Matic movement was removed and replaced with the new calibre L086.1.
The Saxonia Outsize Date is powered by an adaptation of calibre L086.1, the motor behind the Saxonia Automatic family since 2011. Because of the incorporation of the outsize date feature, the modified movement has 286 parts instead of the 209 parts of the straightforward automatic. With just one mainspring barrel, the large central 21k gold rotor with ball bearings and a centrifugal mass in platinum ensures a sturdy power reserve of 72 hours. The movement is secured in place by the classic three-quarter plate made of untreated German silver with Glashütte ribbing and features a manually engraved balance cock with floral motifs. Other refined finishings include perlage, circular and straight graining, polished chamfers and blued screws.
Availability & Price
The Saxonia Outsize Date in pink gold with an argenté dial (Ref. 381.032) retails for EUR 26,300. It is also available with a white gold case (Ref. 381.026) and both editions are part of the permanent collection, and now available from boutiques and retailers.
For more information, please visit A. Lange & Söhne’s website.