For SIHH 2017, Glashütte, Germany-based A. Lange & Söhne presents a new addition to the popular 1815 watch collection family that I think a lot of collectors have been waiting for. The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar watch, as the name implies, adds an annual calendar complication to the brand’s large assortment of perpetual calendar watches. In fact, on aBlogtoWatch alone we’ve covered around 10 different (in some instances very different) perpetual calendar watches produced by A. Lange & Söhne. The situation is quite different with annual calendars, which tend to be much more accessibly priced, even though they offer similar functionality from a practical perspective.
Annual calendar watches are desirable because they blend complication with practicality, and visual appeal with a timeless design. For many people, this is a “sweet spot” that blends various features together in “just the right way.” Annual calendars and perpetual calendars differ in that perpetual calendars take into consideration leap years, while annual calendars require a simple date adjustment just once a year in February (a small sacrifice, for sure).
The last annual calendar-based watch from the great German brand we covered was in 2013 (originally debuted in 2010) with the A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Annual Calendar (hands-on here). Now, for 2017, we see the different and still very lovely A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar. The 1815 collection is typified but its use of Arabic numeral hour markers on the dial and for the 1815 Annual Calendar makes use of the newly developed and in-house-made caliber L051.3 manually wound movement.
The L051.3 is produced from 345 parts and operates at 3Hz (21,600bph) with a power reserve of 72 hours. As you might expect, the movement bridges are produced from German Silver (which develops a nice patina) and are very lovingly decorated with a hand-engraved balance cock. Given that this is a Glashütte movement, it makes use of the traditional 3/4 movement plate that Adolph Lange originally developed back in the 19th century. The movement is relatively thin given the complications, being just 5.7mm in thickness.
In terms of functions, the 1815 Annual Calendar displays the time using beautiful blued steel hands along with a subsidiary seconds hand integrated into the moon phase indicator window over 6 o’clock. The other two subdials are used to indicate the day of the week and date (left subdial) and the month (right subdial). While the dial might be a bit text-heavy for some people, the overall look is very balanced and a nice alternative to Lange’s signature “outsized” big date indicator window that is featured in many of its other perpetual calendar watches that have a similar style. Some perfectionists might also not like how the subdials cut off the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock hour indicators, but the tradeoff is larger and more visually attractive subdials.
Lange’s other annual calendar watch from the Saxonia collection is a bit smaller in size at 38.5mm wide, and just a hair thinner (9.8mm thick) even though it is an automatic with a 3/4 rotor on the movement. The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar case is 40mm wide and 10.1mm thick making for what I know is a more preferred size among most men. The movement can be viewed through the sapphire crystal exhibition caseback window (of course). In addition to the crown, the case has a pusher corrector, as well as several inset pushers to correct the calendar functions.
This system to adjust the annual calendar complication is worth mentioning because it is both clever and practical. Such consideration is a common element of A. Lange & Söhne watch ownership, which is one of the many reasons we tend to like the German brand for our grail watch dreams. The various inset pushers on the case allow the wearer to adjust the separate calendar functions independently. However, if you just let the watch movement unwind for a few days and need to quickly get the calendar back to being accurate, you can wind the watch and then use the pusher located at 2 o’clock to advance all of the calendar functions at the same time. Yes, you do run the risk of pressing this button accidentally, but you also get the ability to likely ensure that the calendar is correct more often than not given the convenience of being able to adjust all the settings at once if the watch is left unattended for a while and you don’t happen to have safe non-scratching sticks to operate the inset pushers with.
For 2017, A. Lange & Söhne will produce two versions of the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar as the reference 238.026 in 18k white gold and the reference 238.032 in 18k pink gold. Both case options will come with a solid silver “argente” dial. Attached to the case will be a black or brown (respectively) alligator strap with a matching gold color buckle. While I haven’t seen this watch yet at the time of writing (a hands-on article will, of course, follow this one), I anticipate this being my favorite new A. Lange & Söhne watch of 2017 – not only for its size and design, but also for its practicality and operational logic. I don’t personally ever feel that I want to pay the extra money for a perpetual calendar when you can get a less cluttered dial with most of the convenience in an annual calendar. Price for either version of the A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar watch is 37,500 euros. alange-soehne.com