A. Lange & Söhne releases the Saxonia Moonphase at the recent SIHH 2016. As fervent fans of moonphase timepieces, this piece spiked our interest. Lange’s specialty German engineering and age perfected finishing art are all evident in this timepiece. A notable Lange signature to the otherwise predictable moonphase layout is the large date display at 12, above the brand inscription. The famous outsize date is a style-defining facet of A. Lange & Söhne watches. It was first showcased in 1994, together with the SAXONIA model.
The Case and Dial
As with previous Saxonia cases, the design is similar, with a mix of polish and satin finished surfaces. The watch comes in pink gold and white gold. It measures 40 mm in diameter and 9.8 mm in height, a moderate size for a modern automatic timepiece. Constructed in a traditional three piece layout, the watch has a transparent caseback which showcases the movement. The dial is made from solid silver, and fitted with rhodiumed gold hands (pink gold on the white gold case version). All in all, a no frills classic design that is sufficiently well crafted without unnecessary fan fare.
The movement used is not only an eye teaser, but also a great workhorse. It is said that A. Lange & Söhne has accrued considerable experience in the development of precise moon-phase displays. The selfwinding calibre L086.5 inside the Saxonia Moonphase contains a 72-hour power reserve with only one mainspring barrel. Clearly, Lange has worked out how to efficiently use power without having a Panerai sized case. The movement uses a lever escapement with shock-resistant screw balance; balance spring manufactured in house with a frequency of 21,600 bph and a precision beat adjustment system with lateral setscrew and whiplash spring.
That is not all, the movement is designed to have the moonphase display connected to the hour-wheel continuum so, just like the moon itself, it is always in motion. This is unlike some other movements with a jumping moon, much like a date change mechanism. Lange reports that the movement reproduces the period from new moon to new moon with an accuracy of 99.998 per cent, calculated through a highly precise seven-stage transmission. Once set, and assuming that the watch runs continuously, the display only has to be corrected by one day every 122.6 years.
The less visible parts behind the balance wheel can also be seen to be nicely dressage (or straighten/true up) finished. Instead of the circular graining, or geneve waves, a dressage finishing creates linear straight grains on the metal. This is achieved via rubbing the component on a piece of abrasive paper repeatedly and in the same direction.
The watch is excellent in its category. It is well finished, and technically well engineered. Given how well its made, product wise, there is really nothing to complain about. That said, as a matter of preference, it is possible that hardcore purists may find a large date display at 12 to be obscene. Then again, the date does not ruffle our feathers. A more legitimate concern about the 28,500 Euros price tag should be raised. If one is looking for a seconds at 6 timepiece with moonphase complication but does not want to live on bread and water for a good few years thereafter, it may be heartening to know that if the Lange is too out of reach, there are always good alternatives to be found in Jaeger leCoultre’s Master Ultra thin Moonphase and Montblanc’s moonphase offerings as well.