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A. Lange & Söhne trip the light fantastic with the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Lumen A. Lange & Söhne trip the light fantastic with the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Lumen

A. Lange & Söhne trip the light fantastic with the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Lumen

Jamie Weiss

Most brands, when they attend big watch fairs like Watches and Wonders, come prepared with a bunch of new products to unveil and promote. But A. Lange & Söhne isn’t most brands. Last year at Watches and Wonders, they had only one watch: the Odysseus Chronograph. This year, the German brand doubled its output with a whopping two watches! One of those watches, however, was a particular statement: the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen.

This lengthily-named piece ranks as one of the most complicated watches the esteemed German brand has ever produced, both technically and aesthetically. For most of the Time+Tide team, it ranked as one of the stand-out watches of the fair – I heaped praise on it during our kiss/marry/kill fair wrap-up, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s one of the most impressive watches I’ve ever had the chance to get hands-on with.

Breaking down the name

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen chrono activation

The only thing more complicated than the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen might be its name, so we ought to break it down step-by-step. Let’s start with the “Datograph” part. First released 25 years ago, the Datograph is one of Lange’s most important and collectible models. The name comes from a combination of date and chronograph, as it’s a flyback chronograph that features Lange’s signature big date display.

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen

The legendary Philippe Dufour has said he believes the Datograph is the best serially produced wristwatch in the world: high praise from the man widely considered the Godfather of independent watchmaking. And the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen represents the latest in this highly complex line, so let’s explore what goes into it.

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen caseback tilt

“Perpetual” refers to the fact it’s a perpetual calendar, which features a moonphase display that, if the watch stays wound, will be accurate for over 122 years. A rapid-correction button at 10 o’clock can be used to simultaneously advance all of the perpetual calendar displays by one day, which is useful if the watch has run out of charge. Following on from that, you can hardly expect a prize for figuring out what the “tourbillon” part of this watch’s name means…

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen crown

Something that might require clarification is the “Honeygold” part. Honeygold is an 18-karat gold alloy exclusive to Lange that the brand reserves for only a select few models. It features a unique colour that’s somewhere between pink and white gold: it’s quite light, but very luxurious. It’s also significantly harder than other gold alloys.

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen lume

The last part of this watch’s name, the “Lumen” bit, is arguably the most exciting. Lange’s Lumen models, the first of which was released in 2010 (this being the sixth-ever Lumen watch), feature semi-transparent, smoked dials and luminous displays and functions. In my opinion, they rank as some of the most compelling Lange models of all – I love how the futuristic appearance of their dials and lume is so contrary to Lange’s normally extremely traditional aesthetic.

The case

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen case profile on wrist

Measuring up at 41.5 millimetres in diameter with a height of 14.6 millimetres, the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen is not a small watch by any means, but in this instance, I think the bigger, the better, as that means more dial real estate to enjoy the light show.

The dial

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen dial

The Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen features a dial made from smoked sapphire crystal, which subtly exposes the inner workings of its movement. The big date at 12 o’clock, the two perpetual calendar displays at 4 and 8 o’clock inside the chronograph counters, the moonphase display at 6 o’clock, and the tachymeter scale are all coated with Super-LumiNova, making this watch beam when the lights are off. You can actually see the whole date wheels behind the dial, as they’re totally covered with lume – a cool effect.

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen date window

One difference between the Lumen and the “standard” Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon, if there is such a thing, is that this new release lacks a power reserve indicator. I’m normally a big fan of dial-side power reserve indicators but I’m actually glad Lange wasn’t able to integrate one into this watch, as I feel as if it helps maintain its visual symmetry.

The movement

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen caseback

Powering the Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen is the new in-house calibre L952.4, which consists of 684 parts and is assembled twice, like all Lange movements. As mentioned above, the only thing that constitutes this as a new movement is the removal of the power reserve indicator found on the standard L952.2. A column wheel flyback chronograph, it beats at a somewhat leisurely 2.5 Hertz. It features a manually wound power reserve of 50 hours, hacking seconds for the tourbillon, a small seconds indicator, a day/night display, and a leap year indicator on top of its perpetual calendar.

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen tourbillon closeup

Speaking of the tourbillon, it’s pretty magnificent in every sense of the word – it’s a shame you can only admire it from the caseback. The cage of the tourbillon features elegant D-shaped curves, which bring to mind the hilt of a cutlass – a fitting motif for such a traditionally styled movement. Resplendent with bridges crafted from untreated German silver and hand-engraved motifs; elegantly chamfered and polished edges; gold chatons and blued screws – it’s a proper German feast.

The strap

A Lange Sohne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen on wrist

The Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen comes mounted on a hand-stitched brown alligator leather strap with a deployant buckle in 18k Honeygold and white gold. If I’m being really nitpicky, it might have been cool to see this watch on a grey/green strap that more closely matches its dial – however, this rich brown pairs nicely with its Honeygold case.

The verdict

 

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I think it’s pretty clear that I’m enamoured with this watch. It’s the horological equivalent of a fluro-green Bentley: a juxtaposition between traditional high luxury and sci-fi looks that you’d have to have some balls to pull off. It’s almost steampunk, but not in a tawdry way. The only regret I have about this watch is that I’m likely never going to be able to wear one again – it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime kind of timepiece.

A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen pricing & availability

The A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold “Lumen” is a limited edition of 50 pieces. Price: €620,000.

Brand A. Lange & Söhne
Model Datograph Perpetual Tourbillon Honeygold Lumen
Reference Number 740.055FE
Case Dimensions 41.5mm (D) x 14.6mm (T)
Case Material 18k Honeygold
Water Resistance Not stated
Crystal(s) Sapphire front and back
Dial Smoked sapphire crystal
Strap Hand-stitched brown alligator leather strap, deployant buckle in 18k Honeygold and white gold
Movement L952.4, in-house, manual-winding
Power Reserve 50 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, small seconds, tourbillon, flyback chronograph, perpetual calendar, moonphase
Availability Limited edition of 50 pieces
Price €620,000