Watches & Wonders Shanghai 2023: The Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar
The Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar returns in Darth form, with a platinum case ad back dial
German fine watchmaking stalwart A. Lange & Söhne has been in a platinum state of mind of late, with the new Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar now getting this most opulent of materials too. Well, platinum is simultaneously restrained as well, given that no one can tell it apart from steel, just by looking at it. The perpetual calendar is a great complication that delivers the day, date and month, without fuss or intervention – the complication automatically adjusts for months of all lengths, including February, and is nonplussed by leap years. Like the Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar in platinum, most also offer a moon phase complication as well. The standard for haute horlogerie perpetual calendars is that they will need no corrections until 2100, the next time a leap year will be skipped. The A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar has fit this criterion since its launch in 2021, and the platinum version is no different.
We will return to the subject of that skipped leap year in a bit, but first a reintroduction for the Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar is in order. It is particularly apt now, although we do wish the Glashütte manufacture would oblige us by making this model in steel or anything just a little less exclusive; A. Lange & Söhne is already extraordinarily exclusive, with a production run of approximately 5,000 watches annually. Happily, the new Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar is not a limited edition, which is extremely surprising and should make you sit up. For reference, the launch model in white gold was limited to just 150 pieces, which was frustrating; it was doubly troubling because this was literally the first time A. Lange & Söhne created a wristwatch that put the perpetual calendar front-and-centre, without any other complication. As A. Lange & Söhne reminds us, there was also the Langematik Perpetual but that was in 2001, and was a beast of a different order. If you have been paying attention, the new Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar in platinum is now one of only two standard production perpetual calendars – without other complications – in the brand’s assortment.
With a black dial crafted in solid silver, the Lange 1 Perpetual Calendar in platinum is what collectors call the Darth (probably due to the red leap year indicator). There is nothing especially threatening about the watch, nor tragic (notwithstanding the many collectors who will want one but be unable to get it) but it does fill us with a certain sense of dread. That is primarily because there are so few perpetual calendars out there, in any price category, that this latest A. Lange & Söhne example offers scant comfort. The watch shares all the same proportions and movement, the manual-winding calibre L021.3, as the existing A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 perpetual calendar watches. See our story on that white gold model for more details. As for the price, which we somewhat skirted, A. Lange & Söhne says this one is “on application,” which has been the case for a number of pieces recently.
Longtime readers, or those who track WOW, will know that I am a fan of the perpetual calendar. It is a quirky complication that tracks our place in the solar system, trying as best it can to account for all the uncomfortable quirks of our orbit. Traditional mechanical watches are sometimes derided as Rube Goldberg machines, but the Gregorian calendar, which perpetual calendars track, is such a (metaphorical) machine itself. This explains that mess about the skipped leap year, which is the case when any given year is divisible by 100 but not 400. Of course, the Western calendar is simpler to use than many other calendars, whether solar or lunar (or some combination of the two).
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