From Greek mythology to your wrist: the A. Lange & Söhne ODYSSEUS is a gem of a steel sports watch
The integrated bracelet game is a challenging one. Many have tried, few have succeeded. Besides the foundation pillars of legendary Audemars Piguet & Patek Philippe integrated bracelet watches, not many have come close to achieving a landmark status. The recent Streamliner by H. Moser & Cie was a very welcome exception. But there is one more contender, that was revealed as a new integrated bracelet steel watch in the last quarter of 2019.
Enter the new A. Lange & Söhne ODYSSEUS.
Known for its lavishly decorated movements and the outsized date windows on dials, A. Lange & Söhne has been the cornerstone of Saxony’s precision watchmaking industry since it was first established in 1845. Post the Second World War, the Maison had a re-birth in 1990s. Since then, A. Lange & Söhne has wowed the watch world with its five watch families: LANGE 1, SAXONIA, 1815, RICHARD LANGE and ZEITWERK.
Joining them is this new collection, the ODYSSEUS.
Odysseus. Sound’s familiar. Who that?
Odysseus is a name from the Greek Mythology. Odysseus was a king and a hero, and among other things also known for being an eloquent speaker and an ingenious personality overall.
The new A. Lange & Söhne ODYSSEUS somehow manages to imbibe this very spirit: belonging to the first regularly produced timepiece in stainless steel, it’s the king of the Maison’s steel watches; a hero among last year’s integrated steel watch releases; the three-dimensional blue coloured dial with the day and date display eloquently speaks of the time; and is the first Lange watch that ingeniously features a water-resistant case — 12 ATM — and a screw-down crown.
Hey Sport, meet Dress
Since the watch was released a few months ago, it’s too late to give you my first reactions. I will however say it took me a while to warm up to this release, so probably my first reaction review wouldn’t have been so favourable. Like I said, steel integrated bracelet watches can be a hit and miss. The ODYSSEUS avoids that cliche.
It’s a sports watch but with the elegance of a traditional dress watch.
The relatively smaller dimensions of 40.5mm diameter and 11.1mm thickness have a lot to do with that. Throw in the architectural playfulness of the satin contoured finish of the slightly cantilevered middle band of the three-part case and you have a watch that easily transcends the sports or formal wear barrier with ease.
This play of surfaces is further enhanced by the combination of brushed surfaces and chamfered edges of the lugs and links of the stainless-steel bracelet.
To complete this sporty-dress look, the watches come on a stainless steel bracelet with a deployant buckle featuring precision adjustment mechanism for adjusting the length up to 7mm.
The Movement of the reference 363.179
The heart used — calibre L155.1 DATOMATIC — is a self-winding manufacture movement decorated and assembled by hand and precision-adjusted in five positions. It features a unidirectionally winding central rotor with platinum centrifugal mass.
It beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h). It comprises of 31 jewels, features 312 components and boasts of a decent 50-hour power reserve.
The movement is encased inside a 40.5mm diameter and 11.1mm thick stainless steel case covered by a sapphire crystal of Mohs hardness 9.
The case has a screw-down crown at 3’o clock for winding the watch and setting the time; and two buttons at 2 and 4’o clock for correcting the day of week and date.
Oversized Date. Meet Oversized Day.
No A. Lange & Söhne watch review is really complete without talking about the classic double aperture oversized date windows that are achieved by dividing outsize-date display into a units ring and a tens disc. Trademark of the brand, they help in identifying the watches even from a distance.
The ODYSSEUS features a newly developed mechanism consisting of 99 individual parts that is characterised on the watch face with a day-of-week display on the left and date display on the right.
So how does the mechanism work
The date pusher and the day pusher enable both indications to be advanced in steps of one day. Thanks to the functional design, both displays can be incremented or decremented in either direction beyond midnight by turning the crown clockwise or anti-clockwise.
The date-and-day mechanism is powered by the hour wheel that rotates once every 12 hours. It transfers its motion to the 24-hour wheel that requires exactly one day to perform a full revolution. The day-of-week display is switched directly by the 24-hour wheel. At the same time, a program wheel controls the correct switching action of the units ring and the tens disc.
The watch face shows the central hours & minutes hands, a sub-dial at 6’o clock showing the seconds dial with stop seconds; the day-of-week window at 9’o clock and a date display at 3’o clock.
We admire that the outer verticals of the frames echo the curvature of the bezel, thereby ensuring that the display windows don’t appear imbalanced.
Legibility like on most A. Lange & Söhne is exceptional. The white gold notched baton appliques, and lancet-shaped hours & minutes hands are in-filled with luminous material that stand out in stark contrast to the brass dark-blue dial.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It?
Damn the watch features a good looking dial.
The finishing of the dial and inter-play of various textural elements is what really sets this release apart.
The dial is made of brass and features several levels with different surfaces.
The top most layer is of the bevelled, argenté-coloured flange ring with a printed minute scale that frames the dial.
Lower than that is the concentric lined peripheral circle featuring a technique called azurage. At 6’o clock this peripheral ring intersects with the outer scale of the subsidiary seconds dial that features the same azurage concentric circles but is sunken. This weird mixture of similar surfaces with differing depths brings a whimsical textural play to the dial.
Then we have the sunken middle layer that contrasts well with the above mentioned concentric circled layers. These grained inner surfaces of the main and subsidiary dial bring about a roughness to the dial, adding to the daily wear sporty charm.
On this silvery blue combination dial there is a slight introduction of colour in the form of white branding at 12’o clock & the seconds track; the black printed minute scale on the bevelled ring; and the number 60, printed in red at 12’o clock.
The latest A. Lange & Söhne ODYSSEUS is a charming watch. Now while it doesn’t feature anything extraordinarily different than other existing steel integrated bracelet watches out there, it does have a personality of its own. Embedded in it are the A. Lange & Söhne design codes we have so come to fall in love with.
Released as a part of an ongoing collection, we are sure it will satisfy the harshest of watch critics and please any collector or pursuer of fine watchmaking.
For more information on this watch and other A. Lange & Söhne watches, head to their website here.