A. Lange & Söhne Langematik Perpetual in Honey Gold
Is it more like a mix between yellow and white gold or yellow and pink gold? Nobody ever seems to know the right way to describe the tone of A. Lange & Söhne’s proprietary ‘honey gold’. What we do know, however, is that this exclusive alloy has graced a new timepiece this year. Enter the Langematik Perpetual in honey gold. The Langematik Perpetual itself is a pretty old reference by Lange’s youthful standards. In fact, being first introduced in 2001, the Langematik Perpetual has already been in the scene for 9 years before the honey gold alloy was first used. Today, the watch remains Lange’s prototypical perpetual calendar watch and one of the finest made in contemporary watchmaking. Hardly a surprise, then, that it has received the Lange equivalent of a knighthood.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The case of the latest Langematik Perpetual to join the ranks is rendered in honey gold. As previously indicated, honey gold is a proprietary gold alloy that is reserved for special limited edition models (the watch itself included) – the last one being the Zeitwerk Decimal Strike from 2017. Apart form having a considerably different hue, honey gold is also deemed more resistant and harder than conventional gold alloys (white, pink and yellow gold), with a Vickers hardness of 300 HVI. Materials notwithstanding, the case is no different to that of preceding Langematik Perpetual models. It is still a dignified 38.5 mm in diameter and a slender 10.2 mm in height, with the standard overbuilt design and brushed case band.
The dial for the Langematik Perpetual in honey gold comes with two subtle aesthetic changes. First, all metallic elements on the dial are in honey gold, including the applied Roman numeral markers and the hands. Second, the hour track is adorned with a radiating guilloche motif.
While the changes to the Langematik Perpetual in honey gold are understated, the impact they have on the new look is not insignificant and plenty positive. The white gold/black-dialed variant notwithstanding, this may be the most attractive Langematik Perpetual yet.
Driving the new Langemetaik Perpetual in honey gold is the same, tried and trusted Calibre L922.1 that has been used in every incarnation of the watch since 2001. The Calibre L922.1 is based on Lange’s famous ‘Sax-0-Mat’ movement; the Sax-0-Mat designation denotes three things: 1) the watch is from the Saxonia family, 2) the movement is equipped with the brand’s patented zero-reset function (pulling the crown out resets the seconds hand to zero for precise time-setting), and 3) the movement is automatic. The movement has 46 hours of power reserve and operates at a traditional 3 Hz beat rate. It has a three-quarter plate architecture, though the bulk of the plate has been carved out to integrate the micro-rotor. The use of an integrated micro-rotor that is in the same plane as the plate not only shaves off some height from the watch, but also avoids obscuring the entirety of the movement, which happens when an old-school central rotor is used.
As would be expected from Lange, the finissage applied onto the Calibre L922.1 is superlative. Of note is the micro-rotor, made of 21K gold with a platinum rim. Its surface features a mix of brushed and frosted finishes with the manufacturer’s marquee rendered in relief. Then, of course, there’s the signature hand-engraved balanced cock with a black polished swan neck regulator. Other techniques such as Glashütte ribbing, flame-blueing, chamfering, and circular graining are also evident. All in all, a visually appealing movement with plenty of technical substance.
The Competitive Landscape
The Langematik Perpetual remains one of the finest perpetual calendar watches in modern watchmaking; its new iteration in honey gold further strengthens that notion. The 100-piece limited edition Langematik Perpetual in honey gold retails at EUR85,000. It is worth noting that this is currently the only version of the watch that is in production. Production of other variants have ceased. While perpetual calendar timepieces are hardly rare today, ones that ‘ultra-high end’ are still revered by the watch community.
Take for example, the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5320G. What Patek Philippe describes as “contemporary vintage”, the Ref. 5320G’s unique features include a cream lacquered dial, syringe hands, and three-tier lugs. The brand has never been shy in its use of apertures, including in the Ref. 5320G where the day, month, leap year and day/night cycle indications are displayed through. This aids tremendously in the legibility of the watch. Its movement, the Calibre 324 S Q is endowed with finissage unquestionably worthy of high horology, though the Langematik Perpetual’s Calibre L922.1 is still more meticulously finished. Retailing at USD82,800, the Ref. 5320G is priced within the same neighbourhood as the Langematik Perpetual, and is a great alternative for those preferring a more classic design.
Perpetual calendar watches also come in more independent and minimalist flavours. The H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Perpetual Calendar is a watch that would spark joy in Marie Kondo’s heart. At first glance, the watch appears to be a time-and-date only piece with a power reserve indicator. But upon closer inspection, one would realise that it is in fact a perpetual calendar watch. Only essential calendar information is displayed on the dial: the date, and the month (via the discreet arrow hand; e.g. 8 o’clock implies the month of August). The leap year indicator is relegated to the case back while the day of the week, as well as the moon phase is done without completely. Moser’s fumé dial may not be for everyone but it has become synonymous with the brand. The Calibre HMC 341 is not only gorgeously hand-finished, it is also a GPHG-winning movement thanks to its technical merits. Retailing at “just” over SGD80,000, the H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Perpetual Calendar is the most accessible of the three, and arguably offers the best value for money.
While not the most popular Lange nor the most well-known perpetual calendar timepiece, the Langematik Perpetual is widely regarded by the watch cognoscenti as one of the finest ever made. One wonders if this honey gold variant is the long-serving model’s final hurrah. And importantly, if it is, what will take its place? Knowing Lange, we can reliably expect something equally respectable.