The last couple of years have been rather intriguing for steel sports watches. Unless you’ve been living under a rock in some distant far away land, then you’ll know that even getting a hold of a Nautilus or Royal Oak Jumbo is nigh on impossible. Steel sports watches with integrated bracelets from pretty much any high-end watch brand is hot topic these days. Throughout 2019, watch brands not ordinarily associated with said timepieces, started to introduce their own interpretation of steel watches with integrated bracelets. That said, the brand most have been waiting to see such a model of this ilk from is Lange. Lange are known for making high-precision timepieces that are not only refined but sought-after, and to top it off – Lange aren’t known for steel watches, it’s just something they don’t really do (well, that is if you exclude the super rare pieces they covertly made in the past).
As we noted towards the backend of 2019, Lange have opened up a new chapter with the introduction of the Odysseus and it is was a watch that was met with some scepticism, that said overall the reception has been rather positive. The Odysseus fills a gap in Lange’s catalogue and is essentially a luxury sports watch for people who appreciate fine watchmaking but also live active lives and Lange gave us the chance to have a few days with their new flagship sports watch.
CASE & BRACELET
The prominent design of the stainless-steel case with a diameter of 40.5 millimetres and a height of 11.1 millimetres, features an integrated stainless-steel bracelet, while still embracing the brands traditional elements. This applies particularly to the sculpted, slightly cantilevered middle band of the three-part case. Its surfaces are decorated with a satin contour finish and the edges are emphasised with a chamfer. The asymmetrical nature of the case at first isn’t clear but looking closer you’ll soon realise these two notches that flank the screw-down crown at 2 and 4 o’clock are in fact date and day corrector push-pieces. These deliberate specially sealed, tapered buttons for correcting the date and the day of week lends a very distinctive look to the Odysseus and gives it character.
The combination of brushed surfaces and chamfered edges is echoed on the lugs and furthermore carried over into the links of the massive stainless-steel bracelet. The bracelet for any luxury sports watch is quite important, as this element lends to the watches overall identity and in my humble opinion – Lange have knocked it out of the park here. Lange have opted for their own interpretation of the BoR design, that nicely integrates into the case, giving the Odysseus an almost seamless look. But more importantly, Lange have made adjusting the bracelet a rather effortless affair. Turning the bracelet over you’ll notice there are some integrated buttons, which once pressed release one side of the link thus allowing you to fully remove the link. And if that wasn’t enough, Lange have also built in a micro-adjuster into the clasp, which is fine-tuned by pressing the ALS signed circular logo on the clasp.
The dial is a multi-tiered affair, made of brass and has several levels with different surfaces. On the outer section of the dial is an engine turned finish, which sits slightly elevated to the grained centre section. Upon the outer section of the dial are notched applied batons that have been inlaid with luminous material. Neatly cut out into the outer and inner dial section are the date and day apertures and as you’ll notice, Lange have taken the liberty to include their signature date window.
The subsidiary seconds dial features matching concentric lines, which contrasts nicely against the grained inner surfaces of the main and subsidiary dial. A bevelled, argenté-coloured flange ring with a printed minute scale frames the dial, with 60, printed in red at 12 o’clock, providing even more contrast. The Odysseus sports the brands typical lancet-shaped hands for hours and minutes, that just like the batons, have been inlaid with luminous material.
A. Lange & Söhne don’t take shortcuts and as such have developed the new calibre for the Odysseus: the L155.1 DATOMATIC. The name DATOMATIC visible on the rotor is derived from the combination of Date and Automatic. The attractive 32.9 mm movement can be observed through the sapphire crystal caseback. It features a unidirectionally winding central rotor with a centrifugal mass in platinum. Thanks to the skeletonization of the rotor further details of the manually executed, lavish finissage of the movement can be admired.
Fully wound, the mainspring barrel delivers a maximum power reserve of 50 hours. To guarantee high rate accuracy regardless of external factors, the new self-winding calibre operates at a frequency of 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour. The newly developed balance is regulated via four, visibly countersunk poising screws that are flush with the outside of the balance-wheel rim. This design reduces turbulence despite the higher frequency. Together with the freely oscillating balance spring, the minimised air resistance has a positive impact on the movement’s rate accuracy and energy efficiency.
The oscillation system of the Odysseus is held by a balance wheel bridge secured at two points. It is uniquely hand engraved by one of Lange’s expert engravers with a wave motif. Other movement decorations also express the concept of combining traditional facets with new ones. All frame parts of the calibre L155.1 DATOMATIC are of course fashioned out of German silver. Additionally, elements of the rotor were black-rhodium plated, with the platinum weight being attached using blued screws further adding more decoration. As per usual, the entire movement is elaborately finished by hand and assembled twice. A further typical Lange hallmark, a screwed gold chaton, secures the upper bearing jewel of the escape-wheel arbour. It also marks the position of the escapement and places a traditional accent, right there where the heart of the watch beats.
Admittedly when I first saw the Odysseus my initial thought was “yet another steel sports watch, with an integrated bracelet, from another watch brand” but then I thought, wait a minute Lange don’t do things by halves so surely this can only be a good thing for them. Lange are known for their high-end wristwatches, with finishing details that are second to none, in my humble opinion. So why bother with a steel sports watch? Perhaps the same question many people asked decades ago when AP and Patek introduced their luxury sports watches and look where those timepieces are now.
The A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus is an incredibly detailed watch from the movement, to the case to the dial but all of this counts for nothing if it doesn’t appeal to you and I can almost be certain that this watch has captured the attention of many watch collectors – myself included. While looking at images and reading articles on the Odysseus whets the appetite, nothing quite beats seeing and holding the watch in the metal and if I remember correctly, I said I’d reserve full judgement until I’ve had a chance to get my hands on one…
40.5mm sounds quite large but the Odysseus manages to conceal its size rather well, probably owed in part to the integrated bracelet. While the 11.1mm thickness of the case on paper perhaps seems big, on the wrist the Odysseus feels just right. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I tend to wear smaller vintage watches, so I was rather impressed at just how well the Odysseus feels to wear. It’s incredibly comfortable and because of the micro-adjuster it easy to get a nice snug fit. That said, it would be interesting to see the Odysseus on a rubber strap in the future.
Speaking to Wilhelm Schmid briefly, he did mention the Odysseus has been in the making for over a decade and this is pretty evident. I like what Lange have done with the Odysseus, they’ve managed to stay true to their identity and all the details you’d expect to see in any Lange are present – not to mention the gorgeous movement. But what sticks out more than anything else is the fact that the Odysseus has an original look. I like the fact that Lange haven’t fallen foul, trying to make a sports watch that looks like all other luxury sports watches out there and because of this, I have no doubt the Odysseus will be very successful.
The new A.Lange & Odysseus, when available, will be priced at €28,000 (approx. £24,000). For more details, visit the Lange website.