A. Lange & Söhne's Datograph is considered one of the best chronographs worldwide. This watch features a flyback mechanism, outsize date display, and a 60-hour power reserve, along with a perpetual calendar and tourbillon.
- Flyback chronograph with outsize date display and in-house caliber
- Gold or platinum case
- Available with a perpetual calendar
- Power reserve lasting up to 60 hours with the caliber L951.6
- Top model: Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon with perpetual calendar and tourbillon
The Datograph: A. Lange & Söhne's Star Chronograph
The Datograph wristwatch from the German manufacturer A. Lange & Söhne
quickly developed into an icon. Its name hints at its special features: "Dato" is a reference to its outsize date display, a Lange characteristic that is reminiscent of the famous five-minute clock
in the Dresden Semper Opera House. The clock has a digital display which can be read easily from a far distance. The "graph" in the name comes from the word chronograph, which is a type of watch that also functions as a timer. The Datograph, which belongs to the Saxonia
series, is available with a perpetual calendar and tourbillon. A. Lange & Söhne presented the Saxonia together with the Arkade, Tourbillon "Pour le Mérite," and the Lange 1
A. Lange & Söhne introduced the Datograph in 1999, nine years after the company was re-established in 1990 after German reunification. Walter Lange founded Lange Uhren GmbH on December 7th, 1990. His great-grandfather Ferdinand Adolph Lange founded the watch manufacturer A. Lange & Cie. exactly 145 years previously. Ferdinand A. Lange was the founder of Glashütte's watch industry. After the Second World War, all watch manufacturers in Glashütte were nationalized. They merged to become the VEB Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe, and A. Lange & Söhne ceased to exist until 1990.
Only a few luxury watch manufacturers offer chronographs with in-house calibers. A. Lange & Söhne belongs to this select few. If you want a chronograph with one of the most exquisite in-house calibers there is, then the Datograph is the perfect watch for you. Pre-owned platinum models in good condition are available for around 33,000 euros. More recent pre-owned models with pink gold cases cost around 37,000 euros. Prices for a new model with a power reserve display start around 54,000 euros. Since the version with the power reserve display has only been available since 2012, pre-owned models are rare. The price for this manual watch is around 53,000 euros.
You can buy a pre-owned platinum or gold Datograph with a perpetual calendar for around 80,000 euros. New watches cost around 90,000 euros. Datographs with a perpetual calendar and tourbillon cost over 235,000 euros.
Datograph: Flyback Chronograph with an Outsize Date Display
When A. Lange & Söhne presented the Datograph in 1999, there was great excitement in the watch community. After all, pocket chronographs were a regular part of the company's repertoire in the 19th century. It was only a matter of time until A. Lange introduced a new chronograph, and with the Datograph, they had one of the best wristwatch chronographs in the world. One highlight of the timepiece is its flyback mechanism. On a regular chronograph, you have to first stop timing before you can set the hand back to zero and restart. However, on the Datograph, all you need to do is press a push-piece one time. When you let go, the chronograph second hand begins timing anew. This allows you to start timing much more quickly than with a regular chronograph. This was very helpful for pilots in the 1930s, who relied on flyback chronographs to help time their flight maneuvers.
The Datograph Caliber
The manual L951.1 caliber powers the Datograph. Lange completely redeveloped this movement, which has a 36-hour power reserve. One special feature is that the minute counter's hand jumps exactly from one minute to the next, so you can read exactly how many minutes have gone by when timing. The hands on the minute and hour counters move continually on many chronographs. Lange has a patent on the jumping minute counter, as well as the mechanics behind the outsize date display. The display is made up of two discs, and rapid date correction is possible by pushing a rectangular push-piece located between nine and ten o'clock.
The balance wheel vibrates at 18,000 alternations per hour (A/h), allowing you to time to an accuracy of 1/5th of a second. Precision index adjustment takes place via small screws in the balance rim. The delicate hand engravings on the balance cock are easily visible under the swan neck. There are a total of 40 synthetic rubies serving as jewel bearings, and four of them are set in screwed gold chatons. All screws in the movement are blued. The typical Glashütte three-quarter plate is made of German silver, an alloy comprised of zinc, nickel, and copper. Over the years, this alloy develops a golden yellow patina. As German silver is a very delicate material, watchmakers never touch it with their bare hands.
The Datograph Design
The Datograph's 39-mm case is made of either 18-karat gold or platinum. The dial is black or silver and has two subdials for the small seconds and the 30-minute counter. The silver subdials create an eye-catching contrast with the black dial. They're located a bit under the main dial's horizontal axis, and together with the outsize date display under 12 o'clock; the center points of the subdials create an isosceles triangle. This dial layout creates a harmonious look and feel. A tachymeter scale, which you can use to measure speed over a certain distance, is on the edge of the dial. Applied indices serve as hour markers, although older models have Roman numerals at two, six, and ten o'clock.
- Flyback chronograph with outsize date display
- 36-hour power reserve
- Case diameter: 39 mm
- Gold or platinum case
Datograph UP/DOWN: Chronograph with a Power Reserve Display
A. Lange & Söhne presented the Datograph UP/DOWN in 2012. UP/DOWN (AUF/AB in German) is the characteristic Lange indicator for the power reserve. "UP" signifies that the watch is wound, while "DOWN" means it is out of energy. The timepiece has a diameter of 41 mm, and the outsize date display grew by 4% to coordinate with the larger case. The design has remained almost unchanged since the first generation of Datograph timepieces. The most noticeable change is the circular power reserve indicator at six o'clock. When the small arrow points to the red segment of the indicator, then the watch needs to be wound.
The Datograph UP/DOWN is powered by the manual caliber L951.6. A. Lange & Söhne extended the movement's power reserve by 24 hours. Now, the watch can function for 60 hours before it needs to be wound again. The oscillation system was also newly designed: For the first time, the Datograph features a balance wheel with an in-house balance spring. This is a sign of high-quality workmanship. With this technology, the watch deviates a maximum of 0.6 seconds per day from the correct time when there's a temperature difference of 1 °C. Precision index adjustment takes place via six eccentric weights instead of screws on the side of the balance rim. The balance wheel vibrates at a frequency of 18,000 A/h.
The caliber L951.6 is comprised of 451 total pieces. Like the L951.1, the individual pieces each receive an intricate finish. The balance cock is delicately engraved by hand. Thanks to the watch's sapphire glass case back, you can watch the fine movement, the most beautiful of its kind, at work.
- In-house caliber L951.6 with power reserve display
- 60-hour power reserve
- Case diameter: 41 mm
Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon: A Limited Edition Masterpiece
The Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon brings three impressive complications together: a perpetual calendar, a flyback chronograph, and a tourbillon. Tourbillon watches are a sign of true watchmaking talent
. Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the mechanism towards the end of the 18th century in order to minimize pocket watches' gravity-related deviations from the correct time. At the time, men carried their pocket watches vertically in their vest pocket, which allowed gravity to negatively affect precision. Therefore, Breguet decided to build the escapement and oscillation systems in a cage. The cage turned on its own axis, making a full turn once every minute. Its movements compensated for the effects of gravity. Today, the most highly respected watch manufacturers such as Breguet
or Patek Philippe
craft tourbillons in their watches to achieve almost perfect precision.
The manual caliber L952.2 with its patented balance stop powers the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon. The balance stop works together with a spring located on the balance wheel, allowing you to set the time to the exact second. In total, the caliber is made up of 729 individual pieces. It's available in a 41.5-mm platinum case.
The Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon uses two subdials for its perpetual calendar. The left, which also serves as the small seconds, displays the current day with a small, extra hand. The minute counter subdial on the right keeps track of the timed minutes and additionally indicates the month and if it's a leap year. The moon phase display is located at six o'clock; it only deviates by one day after an impressive 122.6 years. You can set the perpetual calendar and moon phase display using three push-pieces. The push-piece at 10 o'clock corrects all displays at once. So, in the event the watch didn't run for a day or so, you can quickly correct everything. The tachymeter scale is located on the edge of the dial, as is the AB/AUF power reserve display. This watch is limited to a run of 100.
- Flyback chronograph with perpetual calendar and tourbillon
- Case diameter: 41.5 mm
- 50-hour power reserve
- Limited run of 100 watches