Not long ago, I was given the opportunity to knock off two things from my bucket list when I tried on the Saxonia Annual Calendar while attending the 2016 Concorso d’Elegenza, in Como, Italy. Ignoring, for a moment, the wonderful setting that surrounded me, I focused on the watch that was on my wrist.
The Saxonia Annual Calendar is one of the very few modern watches that I find genuinely beautiful. Okay, so it’s not new â the watch was introduced three years ago â but since this year’s Saxonia Moon is not available yet, I thought it would be nice to revisit what is essentially its bigger and smarter brother. Oh, and I’d be trying the platinum version, which is important given the circumstances of this field test.
I was, at first, quite worried about wearing the precious metal if I’m totally honest (the watch is listed at $54,800). After all, I would be running around quite a bit during my assignment in Como (full photo recap here), chasing cars under the sweltering heat, before getting behind the wheel of the unforgiving and brutish-looking Alfa Romeo MontrÃ©al. None of which I want to do with a platinum watch. Yet, the Annual Calendar seemed reluctant to leave my wrist, seemingly at home there at just about any hour of the day.
And that’s primarily due to the size of the watch. For an annual calendar, a complication that packs quite a lot of components (exactly 476 in this particular piece), Lange’s is rather small. It comes in a 38.5 mm case, a very accessible size for both men and women, and is only 9.8 mm thick. That’s almost 6 mm thinner than the IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar reference 5035. But it still wears with considerable presence on the wrist, thanks in no small part to the wide lugs that anchor it down on the wrist, and the thickness of the bezel.
The calendar functions are displayed according to a very clear and well-balanced three-register presentation at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, with the iconic Lange âoutsizedâ double date window sitting above them at 12 o’clock. Any adjustments to them requires using a stylus pressed against the micro-pushers located on the case band, at 4, 8, 9, and 10.
In the platinum version â which came after white and rose gold â the hands are polished steel instead of blue steel, and I tend to prefer the new aesthetic over the old because the steel hands reduce the amount of information the brain needs to process when looking at the dial.
Safeguarding your brain power is important given what you find on the verso of the watch. Visible through a sapphire crystal, caliber L085.1 is pure A. Lange & SÃ¶hne theatre. Three-quarter plate? Check. Hand-engraved swan neck regulator? Check. Gold micro-rotor? You bet. The details take hours to take in, and doing so is one of the greatest pleasures of owning a timepiece from this German manufacture. What’s more, the movement employs a clever patented zero-reset function that stops the seconds hand and sets it back to 12:00 when the crown is pulled, which makes synchronizing the time setting with a reference timekeeper or signal much more accurate.
For a more advanced calendar, A. Lange starts offering the Langematik Perpetual from $84,200 USD in white gold. Since the Saxonia Annual Calendar comes in a similar package (both watches measure 38.5 mm in diameter and have the same calendric display), you’re basically saving up to $25,800 at the (extremely minimal) inconvenience of having to reset it once every 365 days, instead of just once, when you purchase the perpetual cousin (the next adjustment to most perpetual calendars will be in 2100 AD, when the four-year Leap Year cycle will be interrupted).
An annual calendar is a rare complication â few have been made since it was introduced by Patek Philippe in 1996 â and this platinum option from Lange is perhaps the most precious currently in production. Because of that, many would argue it’s meant to be worn on special occasions. And they wouldn’t be wrong. But that doesn’t make it unsuitable for daily use, especially once you consider its size and the convenience of the calendar functions.
For more, visit A. Lange & SÃ¶hne’s website.
A. Lange & SÃ¶hne Annual Calendar. Case: 38.5 mm x 9.8 mm, platinum. Functions: central hours and minutes, subsidiary seconds; day, date, month, year and phases of the moon; annual calendar. Movement: manufacture caliber L085.1 SAX-O-MAT, GlashÃ¼tte three-quarter plate decorated with GlashÃ¼tte stripes; 476 parts, 43 jewels, 46-hour power reserve. Non-limited edition: $54,800.