A.Lange & Söhne Odysseus White Gold - Watches and Wonders 2020
The unveiling of the A.Lange & Söhne Odysseus represents no doubt a milestone for the brand: it is their first-ever full steel watch, to have been ever equipped with a screw-down crown and offer an integrated bracelet. In short, it is the business card of A.Lange & Söhne among luxury steel sports watches. In doing so, the Saxon manufacturer has debunked the myth according to which they were all about precious metals. Also, let's bear in mind steel is widely accepted in fine watchmaking since 1972, when the Royal Oak initially hit the market. Times have changed, and more so have customers; stainless steel is a must-have if you're eager to join the party.
However, less than a year after the steel Odysseus has been released, a variant in gold joins the collection, on time for the first (and hopefully last) virtual edition of Watches & Wonders. Interestingly, it also welcomes even sportier bracelet options, like the new rubber one, for example, alongside a leather strap too. Technically speaking, the new timepiece confirms the full steel's specification sheet; The Odysseus is a time-only wristwatch, showcasing a large seconds counter at six, paired to outsized date at six and outsized day of the week at nine.
The 40,5mm and 11,1mm thick white gold case's slate grey is an ode to symmetry. In essence, generously sized hour and minute hands, along with applied gold baton indexes, stand out, ensuring high readability in the dark thanks to Super-Luminova®. In the middle, placed on both sides of the dial, are two large windows with date and day display, as said. They guarantee enhanced readability thanks to 2,4mm sized digits and numerals, respectively. The number "25" that you see in the officially released press photos is not by chance. The Odysseus collection was introduced last October, 25 years after the brand was revamped, thanks to Walter Lange and the never-forgotten Günter Blümlein.
That dial is simple but painstakingly executed; the detailing is rich. The slate gray finished dial showcases a sunray pattern either below indexes and small seconds counter. Such rounded shapes contrast with the squared windows. It seems it's stating: "Hey, I'm a sports watch, nonetheless I'm a Lange!" Delicately in size and font is the red number 60 placed at twelve on a slightly curved inner chapter. That red numeral keeps reminding us this is a quintessentially sports watch. Again, those two windows reaffirm the brand's superior engineering, in the benchmark.
The exquisite Big Date mechanism is well exemplified in the picture above; a program wheel drives the advancement of both the units and tens' discs, accordingly. The original round case, familiar to all the A.Lange & Söhne timepieces, has angular shaped push-pieces inserted around the crown to adjust the date or day of the week quickly. Also, the crown is screwed-down to ensure water tightness of up to 12bar. Those push-pieces are equally functional and esthetical. The case alternates brushed and polished edges, like the bezel, whose fully polished finishes will become prone to scratches and dents quickly; the case side reveals how sophisticated is the design, with concave surfaces and sharp polished edges altogether.
This reference adopts the in-house caliber L155.1 Datomatic, purposely designed for the Odysseus. What sets this caliber apart from the competition is its quintessentially Saxon pedigree. It is easily recognizable thanks to a three-quarter plate and the large balance wheel whose inertia can be finely adjusted via screws. Paired is a swan neck regulating system, mounted on a balance cock featuring two fastenings and exquisite hand-made engraving. It's hard to find anything comparable among the Odysseus' competitors unless you keep looking around in Glashütte and turn your eyes to the brand's competitor par excellence, Glashütte Original. The skeletonized winding mass is superbly finished, too, and has a platinum-made outer ring.
Usually, I tend to associate more masculine and less-rounded designs to any sports watch, and I find it hard to accept an originally classic designed watch as an option. However, I have to admit I never got my hands-on an Odysseus so far, and my judgment nothing has to do with the stunning engineering.
Final thoughts and price.
Just like the Greek hero described by Homer, the 2020 Odysseus has to face mythological creatures on the likes of Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and Vacheron Constantin Overseas. The last two, primarily, represent, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the luxury sports watch business. The Odysseus enters the game by ticking all the boxes to become a respected challenger. Time will tell whether it will represent a success story or not; meanwhile, hat off to A.Lange & Sohne for accepting such a challenge.
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(Photo credit: courtesy of A.Lange & Söhne)
Francesco Falcone @Horbiter®