Face-to-Face The Battle of High-End Annual Calendars Part 3 – Lange vs. Ferrier… The Verdict

Two of the best high-end, hand-wound, elegant annual calendar watches, face-to-face!

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Rebecca Doulton | ic_query_builder_black_24px 7 minute read |
Battle High-end Annual Calendar - Lange 1815 Annual Calendar vs Laurent Ferrier Annual Calendar review

Having reviewed both Lange’s and Ferrier’s annual calendars in the previous days, today it’s time for a face-off, a chance for these two mid-weight complication champs to engage in a mock battle. The two contestants are clearly very beautiful watches, perfectly matched in functionality and mechanical integrity, so please take a ringside seat and see if you agree with our verdict in the battle of annual calendars pitting the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar versus the Laurent Ferrier Annual Calendar School Piece.

Case size and presence on the wrist

Without going into extensive detail (please see the reviews of the ALS 1815 Annual Calendar and the Laurent Ferrier Annual Calendar), let’s take a look at the common traits of these annual calendars.

Both contenders share 40mm gold cases and both watches enjoy a commanding presence. The Lange 1815 has a height of 10.1mm while the Laurent Ferrier is thicker at 12.8mm (including the sapphire crystal). It’s only fair to say that the LF sits higher on the wrist and draws attention to its curves with its thick polished bezel and large onion crown. As you can see, both models feature short sloping lugs that position the caseback flush against the wrist and both watches sit beautifully on the wrist (both photographed on Frank’s 18.5cm wrist).

A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Annual Calendar - Battle of High-End Annual Calendar Watches

There is also the case material to take into consideration. The Lange is made from lustrous 18k white gold, a discreet metal that can pass as stainless steel for wearers who value discretion, while the Laurent Ferrier is made from yellow gold. Although the yellow gold is a special “sand-coloured” alloy with subtle, elegant colour, there is no doubt that the LF is a gold watch.

Laurent Ferrier Annual Calendar School Piece - Battle of High-End Annual Calendar Watches

Conclusion: Lange’s case is subtler, more traditional and understated. The voluptuous, sensual curves of the Laurent Ferrier model are bound to attract attention. Lange is more formal and dressier, while LF is more captivating. This is entirely a matter of taste.

User-friendliness

Both contenders have gone that extra mile to make the watches user-friendly and both flaunt lateral pushers to manipulate certain features of the annual calendar. The easy-to-grip pusher on the LF model at 10 o’clock lets you change the day of the week and the crown features additional functionality to adjust the date and month functions.

Laurent Ferrier Annual Calendar School Piece - Battle of High-End Annual Calendar Watches

The pusher at 2 o’clock on the Lange lets you advance all the indications simultaneously, a useful device if you have forgotten to wind the watch (let’s not forget that both watches are manual-winding). There are also three recessed pushers on the side of the case that can be depressed with a special tool to set the day, month and moon phase functions individually.

A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Annual Calendar - Battle of High-End Annual Calendar Watches

Conclusion: While lateral pushers in the caseband, functionality and user-friendliness are excellent in both models, the LF has more functionality at the crown, making it even easier to use than the Lange, which depends on recessed pushers for individual adjustments and requires a separate tool. An extra advantage for Ferrier here.

Legibility

Once again, both annual calendars have put a premium on legibility. Lange has opted for a classic trilogy of sub-dials with two central and horizontally aligned counters for the calendar information (day and date on left, month on right) and a third counter at 6 o’clock for the running seconds and moon phase display. Laurent Ferrier has chosen a 1940s-style calendar layout with two rectangular apertures for the day and month, a peripheral date ring with pointer hand and has placed the small seconds in the conventional 6 o’clock position – minus moon phase.

Laurent Ferrier Annual Calendar School Piece - Battle of High-End Annual Calendar Watches

Despite the copious amount of inscriptions on the Lange watch, the designers have managed to integrate the information in a very pleasant manner. Like other members of the 1815 collection, many details on the dial – railway minute and seconds tracks and large Arabic numerals – hark back to the founder’s precision pocket watches and imbue the dial with a strong sense of classicism and tradition.

A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Annual Calendar - Battle of High-End Annual Calendar Watches

The Laurent Ferrier is an intriguing mixture of old and new. The blue date ring features Art Deco-style numerals while the elegant javelin-shaped hands are hallmark LF. The subtle use of colour adds a refreshing, more contemporary dimension to the watch.

Conclusion: Excellent arrangement of the functions on both watches. However, the white dial of the Lange is less reflective than the silver-tone dial of the LF and easier to read. Once again, the layout and character of the Lange come across as a more formal and rigorous dial.

Manual-winding and power reserve

Another choice both Lange and LF have made is the incorporation of a manual-winding movement. Somewhat odd given the practical, everyday vocation of an annual calendar, but with handy pushers provided to correct a couple of days of inactivity, it is not the end of the world and adds a touch of old school charm that many collectors will appreciate. The LF has a beefy power reserve of 80 hours and the Lange a respectable 72, both enough to see you through a weekend.

Laurent Ferrier Annual Calendar School Piece - Battle of High-End Annual Calendar Watches

As you would expect from these watch brands, the movements are impeccably finished albeit very different in style. The Lange flaunts traditional touches like the classic German silver ¾ plate and hand-engraved balance cock; the Laurent Ferrier is decidedly more contemporary with thick Geneva stripes and bridges plated with dark ruthenium.

A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Annual Calendar - Battle of High-End Annual Calendar Watches

Conclusion: Ample power reserve in both models, excellent finishes and decoration. No clear winner here, but once again the movements reflect the personalities of these watches.

Price

A Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar white gold retails for EUR 38,000, while Laurent Ferrier Galet Annual Calendar School Piece for EUR 50,000 (and a bit less in stainless steel). The quality and execution are impressive in both cases.

Conclusion: That’s a difference of EUR 12,000. Take into account though that Laurent Ferrier is a small, independent brand and does not have the production capacity of ALS’s Saxon manufacture. In the case of the LF, this translates into exclusivity.

Rolls Royce or Bugatti?

At the end of the day, when comparing two watches that are so equally matched and impeccably made, the victor will boil down to a matter of personal taste.

When asked to compare these two models I found that car analogies were useful. Lange’s 1815 Annual Calendar reminds me of a vintage Rolls Royce, a stately car purring majestically down the road thanks to its impeccable engine and body. The curvaceous sensuality of Laurent Ferrier’s watch reminds me of a 1938 Bugatti, happy to attract attention, but without being garish or gaudy.

Laurent Ferrier Annual Calendar School Piece - Battle of High-End Annual Calendar Watches

You could say that the Lange watch is more consensual, a more traditional take on the annual calendar. This is the kind of watch that might appeal to those who want to want to fly under the radar, those with a certain old-school elegance and a restrained attitude. But bear with me, it remains a superb watch.

The Laurent Ferrier has a more sensual disposition and is more playful and daring in my eyes. The Galet Annual Calendar might very well appeal to collectors who want something less mainstream, perhaps somebody who already has a classic watch and who is looking for something unique and less conventional. Thus, it might appeal to more seasoned collectors.

A. Lange & Sohne 1815 Annual Calendar - Battle of High-End Annual Calendar Watches

Verdict

(Editor’s note: keep in mind that the verdict here is based on Rebecca’s personal preferences.) If I could, I would buy the Laurent Ferrier annual calendar. I love the Lange, but it does not enthral me like the Ferrier. There is really nothing I can quibble about with the Lange, but it doesn’t engage me on an emotional level and I miss the features that I associate with Lange watches like the outsize date and off-centred counters. I know that we are talking about the more conservative 1815 family, but if I were to invest in a Lange watch, it would have to have at least one of those hallmark features.

For me, the Laurent Ferrier is more seductive, appealing to both the visual and tactile neurons of the wearer. These are purely aesthetic considerations, as these two watches are superb in terms of mechanics, pedigree, execution and design… But isn’t that the key factor when deliberating between two perfectly matched candidates?


Which is your favourite? And why? We’d love to hear from you so please feel free to post your comments in the box below.

16 responses

  1. Hmmmm. I’m not into Lange’s 1815 range in general, so if you’d had the Saxonia Annual Calendar instead I’d have picked that over the LF (despite it not having a clever pusher system). But the LF does indeed come out of this well, despite the price disparity. Your photos of it have made it look very good.

  2. Rolls-Royce vs vintage Bugatti?
    Not a bit of it!
    The Lange is a BMW 735i; very German, very respectable and very nicely-made. Not quite the top-of-the-range, but certainly something to aspire to. It is faultless, in a safe, middle-class way. The kind of thing someone who has worked hard for a long time would buy. A sensible purchase from a man who is probably a little too conservative in his views.
    The Laurent Ferrier is a Maserati Quatraporte; stylish, chic, but not the model most people would buy. Its purity of form has been slightly compromised with the additional….er…doors. While it does a good job of disguising its bulk, it is does not quite have the elan of the original coupe. But you want one anyway. The kind of person who buys this has been lucky in life, but knows it.

  3. Ooh, car analogies.

    Seiko / Toyota
    Breitling / Renault
    Omega / Volkswagen
    Rolex / BMW
    Cartier / Lexus
    Bvlgari / Alfa Romeo
    Hublot / Chevrolet
    IWC / Audi
    GO / Volvo
    JLC / Mercedes
    Breguet / Jaguar
    Patek / Rolls Royce
    Vacheron / Bentley
    AP / Porsche
    Lange / Aston Martin
    Laurent Ferrier / Maserati
    F.P. Journe / Ferrari
    Richard Mille / Lamborghini
    Kari Voutilainen / Bugatti
    Roger Smith / Noble
    Greubel Forsey / Koenigsegg

    There we go, that’s bound to annoy someone. Even though it’s definitive.

  4. Although the ALS is a beautiful watch i would opt for the More elegant LF

  5. Hi Gil,
    I like your car/watch comparisson.
    Both the Aston and the Langhe appeals to me!
    Next James Bond perhaps?
    Grts,
    RB

  6. ALS all the way – in this comparison at least. A lot of watch for the dough. But,

    I have never dropped (around) 50k on a watch, but with that cash burning my wrist, mmm pocket – I would argue along the lines alluded to above.

    50k can get you entry into the Porsche family. You can sneak in with an entry level 718, or a low millage 997, “timeless machine”.

    BTW: Omega = Volkswagen. WHAAAAAATTTTT THEEEEEE FFFFFFFFerrier… More like Cadillac.

  7. Gil, you just did that to annoy us!
    I’m not going to go through the whole list, but VC is definitely RR and PP is Bentley. LF is a small workshop in Italy that nobody has ever heard of: Rolls Royce keep trying to tempt their artisans away with huge salaries, but only one person has gone…and nobody really liked him. 🙂
    RM was reviewed by Jeremy Clarkson whose definitive verdict was “I mean honestly. What’s the point?”
    JLC is Aston Martin.
    And possibly the most under-rated watch company in history, Casio, is NGK! Everybody in The World has a few without even noticing

  8. Would not wear either of these . The LF is truly an example of the total being more than the sum of its parts. Nothing looks that bad in isolation but the whole watch looks absolutely hideous.The ALS, put a moon face on anything and its ruined.

  9. JAGOTW: “JLC is Aston Martin.”

    *sprays coffee from mouth at screen continuously for 30 seconds*

    I admit it’s not the right one for Lange, though. Was at a loss, nearly put in Land Rover!

  10. I’d put Lange as Porsche. It’s a massive compliment. They just get it right, all the time. I think only a car nut knows just how good Porsche really are. Aston Martin are old, traditional and extremely desirable. But drivers buy Porsches. I worked for The RAC for four years. Only two categories of people were always on top of the situation; bikers and Porsche drivers.

  11. Yeah, I see what you mean – makes sense. It definitely is a compliment. What would you say AP is? I suppose it’s got to be a pricey make that relies almost completely on one model range.

  12. @Roger Bouvrie

    I’d like that to happen, but It seems like it might make a better villain’s watch. Cos of the azi-nay onnection-cay. *touches nose and winks*

  13. I suppose AP would have to be Lamborghini.
    Ferrari would have to be Rolex, but Ferrari are much better cars than Rolex are watches. Mind you, they’re both arrogant as hell and treat their customers with contempt a lot of the time.

  14. I have enjoyed the variety of comments. Some more “spicy” than others. JAG is very opinionated but knows his stuff. As 4 me, I wouldn’t be caught dead with a Rolex. AP, VC, Zenith and a Grand Seiko do the job and look good without drawing attention unwanted. Wear a Rolex in N.Y. and get your arm ripped off.

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