The evolution of post-revival A. Lange & Söhne timepieces has been subtle yet palpable. While Lange watches possess a strong classical core, the illustrious German watch manufacture flirts with modern design frequently to attract younger clientele. Take for instance: this year’s biggest release so far – the Odysseus Chronograph – is a sports watch, with bold red accents. There are also a large handful of Lange pieces rendered in non-traditional materials such as goldstone and sapphire crystal. While it is ever wise to look at the present and peer into the future, sometimes, it’s nice to reflect on the past. And Lange have done exactly that this month by introducing a new variant of the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar.
A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar with Pink Gold Dial
The 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar first came about in 2013 and even managed to pick up a prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie then. The watch is heavily inspired in design by old Lange pocket watches. Of course, it isn’t all about old school cool; the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar – if you haven’t already guessed from the name – is also beautifully complicated. This year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the model, A. Lange & Söhne has presented a limited edition iteration fitted with a pink gold dial. Here, we bring you the details and our honest thoughts on the fourth and latest variant of the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
Austere and overbuilt, the white gold case of the new 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar measures an assertive 41.9 x 14.7 mm. It is immaculately finished, with a bezel and lugs that are polished, and a case band that is brushed. Three pushers on the flanks operate the chronograph when actuated. The ones at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock starts and stops the chronograph, respectively, while the pusher at 10 activates the split-seconds or rattrapante function.
Just as a pink gold case adorns a white dial, a white gold case accentuates a pink gold dial. Colloquially known as a salmon dial, the brownish-orange hue of the dial of the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar isn’t from mere electroplating – it is from the fact that the dial is solid 18k pink gold. Other design aspects of the dial remain unchanged relative to past variants. The sub-dials for the various perpetual calendar and chronograph displays are still arranged in a cruciform layout. Another constant are the hallmarks of the 1815 collection, most notably the Arabic numeral hour markers and the railroad-style minute track.
Blue accents can be found throughout the dial, including the flame-blued hour, minute, and chronograph hands, the shimmering blue moon phase disc, as well as blue-printed numerals denoting quarter hours, leap year, and the first of the month. All these elements combine to create what is truly the most unique 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar since the Handwerkskunst edition from 2017.
Driving the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar is the very same 631-part, 43-jewel Calibre L101.1 that was developed in 2010 and debuted in 2013. The manually wound movement has a power reserve of 42 hours and operates at a stately 3 Hz frequency. Of the total number of parts, 206 are solely for the rattrapante-chronograph mechanism, mostly visible through the sapphire crystal case back. A further 211 components are for the perpetual calendar mechanism just underneath the dial.
The Calibre L101.1 is architecturally stunning, just like every Lange chronograph movement with a horizontal clutch. It is a sprawling city of levers and wheels. Though lacking the movement depth that defined the Triple Split and even the Datograph, the Calibre L101.1 is breathtakingly three-dimensional. It goes without saying that the finissage is top notch. Highlights include the two black polished column wheels, the screwed gold chatons, the numerous sharp angles on the edges of components, and the two hand-engraved bridges. Also remarkable is the visual contrast between the brushed and polished steel chronograph parts, as well as the steel parts against the raw German silver bridges. All in all, this is a stellar movement with technical complexity to match its good looks.
The Competitive Landscape
The perpetual calendar chronograph is one of the most beloved combinations of complications in fine watchmaking; the perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph, however, takes it to the next level. Appreciated for its mechanical sophistication and typically full-on yet balanced dial displays, the perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph is often a tell-tale sign of watchmaking mastery. The 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar certainly is one of A. Lange & Söhne’s most complicated wristwatches (though it debuted the same year as the brand’s official most complicated wristwatch, the Grand Complication), but at the same time, it is also one of the most charming. The introduction of a pink gold dial will no doubt be a big hit as all things salmon-dialed tend to be. The watch is limited to only 100 pieces in production, with pricing available upon request.
Alternatives that go toe-to-toe with the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar are rare by virtue of the sheer complexity in the watchmaking involved. But if there could only be one alternative, it’d have to be none other than the Patek Philippe Ref. 5204. Launched in 2012, the Patek Philippe Split-Seconds Chronograph with Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5204 continues to be coveted even today. While it is about as thick as its Lange counterpart, the Ref. 5204 is 2 mm smaller, at 40 mm in diameter. It features pump pushers for the chronograph start/stop functionality and a pusher on the crown for split-seconds functionality. Needless to say the Calibre CHR 29-535 PS Q that drives the watch is exceedingly gorgeous and is indeed the highlight of the model. Such excellence does not come cheap, unfortunately; the Ref. 5204 comes in at over USD300,000 at retail.
The next candidate isn’t exactly a competitor, nor is it part of the landscape, but it certainly bears mentioning. At first glance, the watch resembles the 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar; it has a cruciform sub-dial layout, displays for the perpetual calendar, and hands for the rattrapante chronograph. The A. Lange & Söhne Grand Complication is, however, so much more than just that. It is true to its name (a name that many manufacturers use in vain these days), possessing the aforementioned complications as well as the minute repeater and grande et petite sonnerie. Inspired by the Grande Complication No. 42500 Lange pocket watch from 1902, only six will ever be made partly due to its obscene complexity. The watch is also more of a showpiece than a wristwatch as it measures an equally obscene 50.0 x 20.3 mm in size – frankly too big for all but the largest wrists.
The 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar has always been a looker; the new version with pink gold dial further reinforces that notion. High end split-seconds chronographs with perpetual calendar have never been the most popular watches around despite their coveted status, likely due to the understandably prohibitive pricing. But Lange’s latest high complication release makes sense – at least from a commercial perspective – because ‘salmon dials’ on classical watches are especially in vogue at the moment. Cash grab or not, this release has certainly reinvigorated interest in a model that has gone under the radar.