If you turn up to the most important annual watch salon with just one model, it had better be good. And being A. Lange & Söhne, the watch in question will not disappoint as the Saxon brand unveils its first automatic chronograph movement – calibre L156.1 – inside its Odysseus sports watch. Regarded as one of the most challenging complications to construct, the new and highly ingenious chronograph movement dispenses with counters to relay elapsed times. Instead, and respecting the strong visual identity of this watch with its outsize day and date windows, the Odysseus Chronograph relies on two central chronograph hands, a reset-to-zero button and increased functionality of the pushers.
The Odysseus, launched on 24 October 2019 – 25 years to the day of the first collection that marked Lange’s revival – was the brand’s take on the luxury sports watch, its first ‘sporty-elegant’ everyday model. 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 an integrated metallic bracelet, and it was equipped with a new movement – calibre L155.1 Datomatic – developed especially for Odysseus that would become the cornerstone for Lange’s sixth watch family. Steering clear of references that have dominated the luxury sports watch market since 1972, the Odysseus is an original and uniquely Lange creation.
Calibre L156.1 Datomatic
With no tell-tale signs of chronograph counters on the dial, it is clear that the mandate for developing this customised chronograph movement was to respect the powerful dial design of the Odysseus.
Lange has been producing sophisticated column-wheel chronographs – and rattrapantes – since 1999. The new chronograph movement for the Ulysse – L156.1 Datomatic – dispenses with counters on the dial and relies on two central hands: a minute hand/counter with a lozenge-shaped and lumed tip and an increased range from 30 to 60 minutes and a red chronograph seconds hand. The movement also provides a dynamic reset-to-zero function activated by a pusher on the caseband at 4 o’clock.
As the brand explains: “When the reset-to-zero button at 4 o’clock is actuated after a time measurement, a short but impressive spectacle ensues: while the minute counter (hand) jumps back to its starting position in a conventional way, the red chrono seconds hand covers the entire distance travelled beforehand within a fraction of a second – one full revolution for each measured minute. If the minute counter has not reached the 30-minute mark yet, the two hands move anti-clockwise. If the minute counter has passed the 30-minute mark, both hands will advance to zero clockwise. At high speed, the chrono seconds hand performs a full revolution for every minute required to reach the full hour.”
The L156.1 Datomatic calibre is wound by a skeletonised central rotor with a platinum centrifugal mass. When fully wound, the mainspring delivers a maximum power reserve of 50 hours. The balance, beating at 28,800vph, is suspended beneath a hand-engraved balance bridge with wave patterns, an allusion to the water-resistance and sport-oriented vocation of the chronograph.
The new movement has translated into a wider and thicker case; the diameter is now 42.5mm, and the thickness is 14.2mm. Although it is a shame that it has had to increase in size, the more complicated chronograph movement is shielded by a 120m water-resistant case and robust enough to wear for sports activities. The case finishings are exceptional, with matte surfaces and chamfered edges that continue to the lugs and links of the stainless steel bracelet. Another ingenious solution has been to maximise the functionality of the buttons on the right side of the case. Now, if the crown is in its normal position, the pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock operate the chronograph – start, stop and reset to zero. However, if the crown is pulled, the date and day of the week can be corrected.
Like other Odysseus models, the grained dial plays with different layers and textures to produce an illusion of depth. The silver-coloured flange displays two scales; fractions of a second on the outer circumference and minutes/seconds inside with a red number at 60, matching the red chronograph seconds hand and the ‘Chronograph’ inscription printed on the dial. The peripheral flange is followed by a black snailed chapter ring with applied luminous indices truncated at 3 and 9 o’clock to accommodate the outsize day and date apertures and again at 6 o’clock for the snailed subsidiary seconds counter. Also treated with luminescent material, the hours and minutes are read by typical Lange lancet-shaped hour and minute hands.
Availability & Price
The Odysseus Chronograph is a limited edition of 100 watches and is available exclusively at A. Lange & Söhne boutiques. Price is upon request. For more information, please visit A.Lange-soehne.com.