It was only 4 years ago, on the 25th of October 2019 that we saw the first stainless steel sports watch from A Lange & Söhne – the Odysseus – that has became a point of fascination for the brand, as it had gone on to widen the scope of offerings from the brand, veering into the casual chic in addition to the stiffly formal. It would retain all of the hallmark finishing that the Teutonic brand is renowned for, in a package that made it easy to wear in everyday situations. For Watches and Wonders 2023, we sees the natural progression of this collection, with the unveiling of the Odysseus Chronograph – a watch containing the brand’s first automatic chronograph movement that naturally contains a slew of thoughtful implementations of watch functions. Typical of A Lange & Söhne, they have also drawn on their Germanic heritage in watchmaking, yet have kept this watch thoroughly modern.
The new Odysseus Chronograph, like its predecessor, is hewn from stainless steel and measures in at 42.5mm in diameter, with a thickness of 14.2mm – similar to much of the Lange collections, the watch is generously proportioned, but not so much so that the watch is unwearable on a daily basis. The dial opening was specifically designed with a narrow bezel so that its sized is maximised, ensuring optimum legibility when paired with the lancet shaped hands, and the large displays for the day and date.
The hour and minute hands are made from white gold filled with luminescent material, as are the baton markers. A Lange & Söhne have consciously made the decision to design this watch with a clean aesthetic, and as such, two hands in the centre are designated for the chronograph – a red seconds hand that is made from aluminium (for good reason which we will delve into later), and a rhodium plated steel 60 minute counter, with a lozenge-shaped tip that is filled with luminescent material. The black dial features two different finishes – a grained finish in the middle of the dial, and azurage (concentric circles on the outer periphery of the dial where the hour markers are located.
At 9 and 3 o’clock are the day and date indicators respectively – their design takes their inspiration from the digital clock that resides in the Dresden Semper Opera (this clock was made by the apprentice-master and father-in-law of Ferdinand Adolph Lange, one of the founding fathers of German watchmaking in Glashutte). Finally, at 6 o’clock is the running seconds indicator, which together with the day and date, also pay tribute to one of A Lange & Söhne’s iconic models, the Zeitwerk.
Housed within the stainless steel case is the L156.1 DATOMATIC Calibre, a movement that derives its name from the words “date” and “automatic”. It is wound through the oscillations of a platinum 950 rotor, that is partially skeletonised and coated in black rhodium. The watch delivers a power reserve of 50 hours, and beats at 4Hz – an optimal frequency for precision timekeeping demanded by a chronograph. It wouldn’t be an A Lange & Söhne if the watch didn’t have some visual flourish, and this is evident in the operation of the chronograph. Once you have completed measuring your event, stopped the chronograph and hit the reset button, the minute hand flies directly back to zero, but the seconds hand returns to zero by making the the same number of rotations as the number of minutes that have elapsed, ie: if 10 minutes have passed, the seconds hand returns to zero by making 10 anti-clockwise rotations of the dial before coming to rest at zero. If by chance, the event lasts more than 30 minutes, the hands reset in a clockwise fashion, with the seconds hand also making the same number of rotations as the elapsed minutes.
(Check out the video below shot during the product presentation of the watch at Watches & Wonders 2023)
This is also why the seconds hand is crafted of aluminium, for its lightness. The movement also has a novel function selector system in the screw-down crown. When the crown is in its neutral position, the pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock control the chronograph in a typical fashion (start and stop at 2 o’clock, reset at 4 o’clock). Once the crown is pulled out, however, the pushers control the day and date functions (2 o’clock controls the date, and 4 o’clock controls the day).
The watch is delivered on a stainless steel bracelet that plays with light – chamfers on the sides and its links give it extra refinement in combination with its brushed finish on its flat surfaces.
Arguably, A Lange & Söhne have given their fans a watch that quietly signifies its technique and prowess in watchmaking – the watch doesn’t necessarily blow everyone away, but for the connoisseur, they will appreciate the thought that has gone into the design of its movement, its functionality, as well as its everyday wearability. A high-end chronograph for everyday, the Odysseus Chronograph is rightfully limited to 100 pieces, exclusively sold through the brand’s boutique network, with the aim of supplying true connoisseurs with the finest automatic chronograph from Glashutte.
Movement: Lange manufacture calibre L156.1 DATOMATIC®, self-winding, crafted to the most exacting Lange quality standards, decorated and assembled by hand; precision-adjusted in five positions; unidirectional winding central rotor with 950 platinum centrifugal mass; balance bridge engraved by hand
Movement parts: 516
Jewels: 52 Screwed gold chatons: 4
Escapement: Lever Escapement
Oscillation system: Shock-resistant cam-poised balance with four poising screws, superior-quality balance spring manufactured in-house, frequency 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour (4 hertz), precision beat adjustment system with cam and whiplash spring
Power reserve: 50 hours when fully wound
Functions: Time indicated in hours, minutes, and subsidiary seconds with stop seconds; date and day-of-week displays, chronograph with central chrono seconds hand and 60-minute counter
Operating elements: Screw-down crown for winding the watch and setting the time; two buttons for correcting the date and day of week as well as operating the chronograph
Case dimensions: Diameter: 42.5 millimetres; height: 14.2 millimetres
Movement dimensions: Diameter: 34.9 millimetres; height: 8.4 millimetres
Case: Stainless steel Water resistance: Up to 12 bar (120 metres)
Dial: Brass, black Hands and appliques: Hours and minutes: white gold, luminous; subsidiary seconds: white gold; 60-minute counter: rhodiumed steel, luminous; red chrono seconds hand: aluminium; baton appliques: white gold, luminous
Crystal and caseback: Sapphire crystal (Mohs hardness 9)
Bracelet: Stainless steel Buckle: Safety deployant buckle with precision adjustment mechanism for adjusting the length