Here it is then, after what was, by all accounts, a long and meticulous concept and design process. The new A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus is a “sporty, elegant” (their words, not mine) wristwatch in stainless steel with an integrated stainless steel bracelet. It features a three-part case that measures 40.5mm wide and 11.1mm high. It comes with just one dial iteration – blue – with luminous baton markers and white gold luminous hands. There is a subsidiary seconds dial at 6 o’clock, as well as large day and date displays. The powerhouse behind the Odysseus is the all-new A. Lange & Söhne L155.1 Datomatic self-winding movement, comprised of 312 components, 31 jewels and delivering a 50-hour power reserve.
Any time a brand purpose-builds a movement for a watch is a great thing, in my opinion. After all, if that level of detail and thought has been put into the movement, this will obviously carry throughout the whole timepiece. The new Datomatic movement (a combination of the words date and automatic) is visually pleasing and appears to have that excellent trademark Lange finishing. The movement is certainly distinctly A. Lange & Söhne in style, and unmistakable with its German silver bridges. It utilizes just one gold chaton, over the escape wheel; the rest of the jewels are friction-fit, as is the case on the L086.1 which powers the Saxonia and which this movement is heavily based on.
The oscillating weight is constructed from a rhodium-plated inner and a solid platinum outer section. The rhodium finish creates a stark contrast against the silvered bridges, and I’m undecided as to whether it does the watch justice. The L155.1 Datomatic also features a balance bridge, as opposed to a balance cock, which is what the brand traditionally employs. A balance bridge uses two screws and anchors at two positions, whereas a balance cock anchors at only one position and requires a single screw to hold it in place. The bridge style is more synonymous with modern watch movements and offers greater rigidity to the balance.
This movement has also had the VPH upgraded from 21,600 to 28,800. Being a ‘sports’ watch, this is a move in the right direction as it allows for a quicker recovery time of the balance if the watch were to receive a shock. In simple terms, the faster a balance can recover, the less variation in timekeeping the watch will have. The biggest disappointment with the movement would definitely have to be the power reserve. The L086.1 offers an impressive 72-hour reserve, which is quickly becoming the industry standard, whereas the new Datomatic will only tick for a 50-hour period.
A serious competitor
The Odysseus case is a three-part construction and offers water-resistance up to 12 bar. It features a screw-on case back and screw-down crown in keeping with the new sports vibe. The Odysseus also makes use of two tapered buttons adjacent to the crown to advance the date and day functions. A sapphire crystal display back shows off the new movement.
The dial is striking in blue, currently the only colour available. I have no doubt we will see other offerings later down the line. It features the big day window at 9 o’clock and big date window at 3 o’clock. These large apertures showcase the white lettering backdropped by the blue disks. The luminous filled batons appear to be large and sit fairly proud, perhaps appearing more prominent due to the raised outer track with circular grain on which they sit. The central portion of the dial features a frosted finish and contrasts the chapter ring in a beautiful fashion. It is countersunk and gives the dial a depth that is visually stunning. The seconds subdial is situated at 6 o’clock and a shrunken replica of the broader dial. The minute and hour hands are white gold with luminous filling. The seconds hand is also in white gold and features a large tail in typical Lange fashion. All in all, the dial is well balanced, has enormous depth, and is really just beautiful.
This brings us to the bracelet, which has brushed surfaces and polished bevels, and is well integrated into the case lugs. The clasp is engraved with a large circular logo that doesn’t do much for me. The logo does serve a purpose, however, as it is the button used to make fine micro adjustments for a precise fit. The clasp release, which is a button on each side, appears bulky, a feature I would expect to see on cheaper bracelets (admittedly, I haven’t seen the watch in person yet), and certainly doesn’t ooze finesse. I hope that in the future we will see the Odysseus offered on a rubber strap with deployant clasp.
Will the A. Lange & Söhne be able to compete with the likes of Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe? Only time will tell. Love it or hate it, you can’t ignore it. The A. Lange & Söhne Odysseus is here to stay.