A. Lange & Söhne
Ref. 5327: USD85,000
Langematik Perpetual: EUR85,000
Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5327 vs. A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual
It’s a never-ending rivalry between Switzerland’s best, and Germany’s mightiest. Patek Philippe and A. Lange & Söhne are some of the most prestigious watch manufacturers in the world and their creations never fail to inspire awe. Today, we pit the resident perpetual calendar watches of both brands – the Ref. 5327 and Langematik Perpetual – against one another to see which one comes out on top. Patek Philippe may have been one of the first in history to make the perpetual calendar wristwatch, but can it weather the contemporary storm brought forth by Lange?
The cases of the Ref. 5327 and the Langematik Perpetual share as many similarities as they do differences. Let’s start with what’s comparable. Both cases come only in precious metals; the Ref. 5327 is available in three types of gold, while the Langematik Perpetual is available in both gold and platinum (though all but the Honey Gold variation have been discontinued). Surprisingly, both timepieces also share very similar sizes: the Ref. 5327 measures in at 39 mm x 9.71 mm, while the Langematik Perpetual comes in at 38.5 mm x 10.2 mm. Most of the time you’d find Lange watches to dwarf their Patek Philippe counterparts because the former tends to be more contemporary and over-engineered. Not so much the case (excuse the pun) with the Langematik Perpetual, being 0.5 mm smaller than the Ref. 5327 mm and only 0.5 mm thicker.
The differences between the two cases arise mainly in their design and finissage. The Langematik Perpetual utilises Lange’s standard issue case, which is fairly austere in design and Teutonic in style. We love the brushed case band that contrasts the polished aesthetic of the rest of the case. The Ref. 5327, on the other hand, has a more elegant case design. The case has softer lines, gorgeous scalloped lugs, and is entirely polished for added refinement. Patek Philippe is also one of a handful of manufacturers capable of manufacturing its own cases (and almost everything else along with it), so if “in-house” matters to you, you’re really going to love the Ref. 5327.
When it comes to dial-making and design, few can claim to be more masterful than Patek Philippe. Much like its cases, the brand makes its own dials, and it makes them well. In the rose and yellow gold variants of the Ref. 5327, the lustrous, off-white dial is the result of ivory lacquer. It serves as the perfect backdrop for the gold applied Breguet numerals that look oh-so charming. With the Ref. 5327, Patek Philippe opted for the classic triple sub-dial display; every single display (except the moon phase) is indicated by hands. One underrated quality of every Patek Philippe timepiece is its layout. The brand has an uncanny ability to lay things out in a way that is as intuitive, legible, and uncluttered as possible – and the Ref. 5327 is no exception.
The Langematik Perpetual dial, in contrast, is not quite as classical in design. With the iconic outsize date display at 12 o’clock and three sub-dials at each quarter, the dial has a cruciform layout. Interestingly, the leap year display is centred upon the edge rather than the centre of the month display sub-dial like in the Ref. 5327. This may be an attempt to spice things up, which is fair enough, but the ‘PERPETUAL CALENDAR’ script that fills the month display sub-dial is rather unnecessary, as its easy enough to tell a perpetual calendar watch by the presence of a leap year display. Another design element that makes the dial that much more modern in appearance is the lumed hands. Generally speaking, luminescent material doesn’t belong on classical watches, but its practicality is undeniable; low-light visibility is indeed a vastly underrated perk. Other than these mildly contentious points, the dial is a work of art that is far more nuanced than its counterpart’s. Three things of note are the multi-plane nature of the dial, the radiating guilloche motif on the hour track, and the vivid, resplendent moon phase disc.
Driving the Ref. 5327 and the Langematik Perpetual are the Calibres 240 Q and L922.1, respectively. The visual similarities of the movements are stark, as both watches are wound by an off-centre mini-rotor. The two movements also share similar power reserves (Ref. 5327: 48 hours max; Langematik Perpetual: 46 hours) and operate at a stately 3 Hz frequency.
From a technical perspective, both movements are fitted with their own perpetual calendar mechanisms, but the Calibre L922.1 has two extra tricks up its sleeve. The first is the small seconds function, which isn’t all that important on the grand scale of things. But the second perk that it has – which happens to pertain to the first – is a zero-reset function, whereby pulling out the crown of the Langematik Perpetual zeroes the second hand, allowing for precise time-setting.
And what of finissage? Unless you’re new to the hobby, you’d know that it is almost a given that amongst the ‘mainstream’ brands, Lange always comes up on top. Lange, to the best of our knowledge, is the only non-independent manufacturer that performs the ‘double assembly‘ process. This process, while laborious, ensures that the delicate German silver movements from the brand are finished immaculately. Then there’s the matter of the mini-rotors. In the Langematik Perpetual, it is meticulously decorated with circular graining, relief engraving and a hammered finish. The mini-rotor on the Patek, while also attractive, isn’t nearly as ornately shaped or decorated by comparison. Let’s not forget about the balance cock as well. In the Calibre L922.1, it is hand-engraved by the manufacturer’s one-of-six master engravers, leaving an immutable artisanal touch on the watch. This is not to say that the Calibre 240 Q isn’t well-finished, because spoiler alert: it is. This is only to say that the Calibre L922.1, with the more detailed attention it receives, is aesthetically superlative.
The Ref. 5327 is priced at around USD85,000 for both the rose and white gold versions, and USD83,000 for the yellow gold version. While there once were multiple precious metal variants of the Langematik Perpetual available for retail purchase, there is currently just the honey gold version available in Lange’s catalogue, retailing at EUR85,000. Based on current exchange rates, both timepieces, essentially, cost the same, give or take 10%. It is worth noting, however, that the Langematik Perpetual is a limited edition of 100 pieces only while the Ref. 5327 is a regular production piece.
Even after breaking them down into compartments, there is still no clear answer as to which perpetual calendar watch is “better” overall. While the Langematik Perpetual has a flawlessly finished case, it is not quite as nuanced as the in-house manufactured case of the Ref. 5327. Moving on to the dial, we had the classicism of Patek Philippe versus the contemporary elegance of Lange. The dial on the Langematik Perpetual is more sophisticated and exciting than its Patek Philippe counterpart, but it does have a minor (and subjective) flaw or two in design. The dial of the Ref. 5327, on the other hand, cannot be faulted in any way. It plays it safe with a classic, simple design, though those Breguet numerals will win plenty of brownie points from the watch community. With the movement, it’s slightly more clear-cut: the Lange is more technical and better finished than the Patek. The Patek Philippe Calibre 240 Q is still a reliable, well-finished movement, but it has become rather long in the tooth having begun its career in 1977. From the pricing point of view, it would appear that the Langematik Perpetual is slightly more expensive, though it bears mentioning that this is the price for the 100-piece-limited Honey Gold (a proprietary alloy) variant. Previous regular production Langematik Perpetual watches in gold (which are no longer produced) are not as dear in pricing. The slight price premium is further justified by the fact that the Langematik Perpetual packs more horological goodies within it than the Ref. 5327. The question of value gets a little more complicated if you start to consider after-sales value and collectibility (or lack thereof), so we’ll just end the pricing discussion here.
In summary, neither of these watches are objectively better than the other. It truly comes down to one’s preference and needs. As the old watch community adage goes: “get the watch that makes you happy”.