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Review: Shining, Shimmering, Splendid: The A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue

by Frank Chuo on May 28, 2018

A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue

The A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Thin is known for being many things – the brand’s entry-level timepiece, the brand’s cleanest timepiece – but ‘aventurescent’ is not one of those things, that is until this year. This year, the Saxonia Thin has been given a makeover unlike anything ever seen on a Lange, and the results are spectacular. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on the new Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue.

 

The case, dial and hands

Late in 2016, A. Lange & Söhne introduced what was an aggressively priced, thoroughly refined dress watch: the Saxonia Thin 37 mm. While at 37 mm in case diameter the watch was respecting the dimensions of a true dress watch, many felt that it was too small for contemporary wrists. With the new Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue, Lange have taken the diplomatic route; at 39.0 mm in diameter, the watch will please the classic, as well as the modern dress watch crowd. And at 6.2 mm in height, the watch largely retains its elegant slenderness for ease of slipping under a dress cuff.

 

The case of the new Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue is crafted in 18k white gold and apart from size, it is identical to that of the Saxonia Thin.

 

While the new case size is great and all, it is obviously the dial that is the star of the show. To say that the glinting, rich blue dial is captivating is an understatement. But first, what exactly is it made of? Is it aventurine? Is it lapis lazuli? Neither, in fact. The otherworldly appearance of the dial has to do with goldstone, also known as aventurine glass. Goldstone is a man-made glass consisting of tiny crystals of copper dispersed within to create a glittering appearance. In this special Saxonia Thin, a thin layer of goldstone is coated onto the solid silver dial. Though only the top layer is goldstone, the effect is still stunning. Our photos offer a good glimpse of the the dial, but to fully appreciate its beauty, the watch has to be experienced in real life. One might be tempted to think that the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue is a ladies’ timepiece given its flamboyance, but the watch wasn’t specifically marketed to women by Lange. In our humble opinion, this surreal piece would look just as good on a man’s wrist as it would on a woman’s wrist.

 

The goldstone dial on the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue – like stars in a night sky.

 

Other aspects of the dial design are rather minimalistic: company marquee in white, applied baton hour markers, alpha-style hour and minute hands, no minute markers, no seconds hand. The watch also comes with matching dark blue alligator leather straps. Make no mistake, there are artistic watches out there that some may consider crass, but the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue is not one of them. The aesthetics may not be for everyone, but there is no doubt that Lange executed its most novel Saxonia Thin yet with class and finesse.

 

The Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue on a lady’s wrist.

The movement

The movement that powers the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue is the same movement that has powered the Saxonia Thin since its birth: the in-house designed and manufactured Calibre L093.1. The 167-part, 21-jewel movement has over 72 hours of power reserve when fully wound and operates at a stately 3 Hz beat rate. At merely 2.9 mm in thickness, the Calibre L093.1 is Lange’s thinnest movement. Being hand-wound and featuring a three-quarter plate architecture, it is also reminiscent of movements in old Lange pocket watches, a treat for the traditionalists.

 

The Calibre L093.1 seen through the sapphire crystal case back.

 

But hands down the best thing about the Calibre L093.1 is that in spite of being the simplest, most entry-level movement in the brand’s portfolio, it is upheld and finished to the same standards as movements in higher end Lange watches. Certain brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre have different levels of finishing for their movements to improve accessibility across their products, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But Lange have stuck to their guns in creating only the finest watches in the world, and that means not compromising in finishing.

Visible through the sapphire crystal case back are the usual trappings that have made Lange movements the stuff of legend: the mirror-polished click, swan neck regulator, chamfers, and screw heads; the textural Glashütte ribbing on the German silver three-quarter plate; the snailed ratchet wheel; the gold chatons secured by flame-blued screws; the tight and even perlage on the base plate; and not to forget, the signature hand-engraved balance cock.

Be it the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater or the Saxonia Thin, Lange movements are upheld to the same (stratospheric) standards of finishing.

 

The competitive landscape

The Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue is a worthy consideration for those in the market for a clean dress watch with an artistic flair. At SGD31,500, the watch is priced above the regular Saxonia Thin (37 mm), which is to be expected given the fancy dial treatment.

 

The Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue on the chief editor’s wrist.

 

But let’s be frank, the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue was never going to be for everyone. Fortunately, for those in search for a more sober alternative, there’s always the Saxonia Thin 37 mm to fall back on. The Saxonia Thin 37 mm has made quite a name for itself for being the most competitively priced time-only dress piece in haute horlogerie (SGD21,300). Sure, you can find plenty of nice dress watches at half the price but do any of them come with the mind-blowing hand-crafted/finished goodness of the Saxonia Thin? The answer is an unequivocal “no”. The Saxonia Thin is a pure dress watch (classically sized, no complications, no surplus design touches) with top-of-the-industry finish at a price no other manufacturer has matched.

 

The best time-only dress watch for under USD15,000? We definitely think so.

 

Outside of the Lange brand (and originating just several kilometres outside of Germany), there’s Schaffhausen-based H. Moser & Cie’s Endeavour Centre Seconds Automatic. Debuting in 2017, the watch is clean and time-only (albeit with a seconds hand) like the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue. Noticeably, it also comes with the brand’s signature fumé dial. On a scale of practicality, the Endeavour Centre Seconds Automatic probably fits between the no-nonsense Saxonia Thin 37 mm and the resplendent Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue; it is not as austere as the former but also not as blingy as the latter. And at about CHF19,900 (or SGD25,971 at the time of writing), the Moser even takes the middle ground in terms of pricing.

 

The Endeavour Centre Seconds Automatic comes with a classic black leather strap, or with a raw kudu leather strap for a resolutely modern look.

Concluding thoughts

Given what we’re used to seeing from A. Lange & Söhne, the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue is a watch straight out of left field. That said, notwithstanding its shimmering goldstone-layered dial, the watch remains faithful to the restrained design of the Saxonia. If anything, we feel that the Saxonia Thin in Copper Blue adds a welcomed touch of magic and whimsy to a line that can sometimes feel a little stiff.

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