At Watches and Wonders 2023, A. Lange & Söhne introduces its first self-winding chronograph – the ODYSSEUS Chronograph
The ODYSSEUS was introduced four years ago as the first sporty-elegant timepiece by A. Lange & Söhne, featuring a novel design and a bespoke, exquisitely finished movement.
The ODYSSEUS CHRONOGRAPH is the next chapter in the history of this acclaimed timepiece collection. The stainless steel L156.1 caliber is the first self-winding chronograph movement from A. Lange & Söhne and was developed in-house. This timepiece’s ability to reset the chronograph hands to zero is a bold example of the Saxon manufactory’s fearless pursuit of innovation and advancement in the field of precision watchmaking. The ODYSSEUS CHRONOGRAPH is so complicated that only 100 of them will ever be made.
New horizons in design and function
The watchmakers at A. Lange & Söhne continue to break new ground. When they released the ODYSSEUS in 2019, they effectively created a new subgenre of watches: the sporty-elegant watch. In many ways, they were exploring uncharted territory. One of these was creating the L155.1 DATOMATIC caliber, a unique movement designed specifically for new uses.
Furthermore, the ODYSSEUS took a novel approach to its design, distinguishing itself with a modern look that emphasizes airiness, minimalism, and bold details. The dial was relatively large because of the watch’s narrow bezel. Excellent legibility is ensured by the combination of the lancet-shaped hands and the signature Lange displays for the date and day of the week.
The challenge of a Manufacture movement
A. Lange & Söhne has once again demonstrated its mastery of short-time measurement by venturing into uncharted territory with the newest member of the ODYSSEUS watch family. One of the most difficult aspects of making a high-quality watch is designing and constructing a chronograph caliber. Few manufacturers have the expertise to design and build such a complex mechanism. Since 1999, A. Lange & Söhne’s chronographs have been highly sought after, and the brand’s 13 Manufacture movements attest to why.
“The ODYSSEUS CHRONOGRAPH transports the contemporary and one-of-a-kind design of the watch family to a new technical dimension. It meets all the requirements of a stopwatch suitable for many fields of application, without relinquishing the hallmarks of Lange precision watchmaking,” says Anthony de Haas, Director of Product Development.
To retain the characteristic dial design of the ODYSSEUS, the manufactory developed a customized movement that positions both chronograph hands in the center, the minute counter with a lozenge-shaped tip as well as the red chrono seconds hand. As a consequence, the totalizers, which are conventionally arranged at 3 and 9 o’clock, could be dispensed with, and the style-defining positions of the outsize date and day of the week could be maintained.
Owing to the expansion of the measuring range from 30 to 60 minutes, the Lange developers succeeded in introducing new fields of application for the chronograph. Additionally, it is endowed with an innovative, dynamic reset-to-zero function. When the reset-to-zero button at 4 o’clock is actuated after a time measurement, a short but impressive spectacle ensues: while the minute counter jumps back to its starting position in a conventional way, the red chrono seconds hand covers the entire distance traveled beforehand within a fraction of a second ‒ one full revolution for each measured minute. If the minute counter has not reached the 30-minute mark yet, the two hands move anti-clockwise. If the minute counter has passed the 30-minute mark, both hands will advance to zero clockwise. At high speed, the chrono second’s hand performs a full revolution for every minute required to reach the full hour.
To assure the safe and easy operation of the chronograph, the Lange product developers equipped the specially sealed, tapered buttons with a novel dual function. In the normal position of the screw-down crown, the buttons at 2 and 4 o’clock are used to operate the chronograph functions: start, stop and reset to zero. When the crown is pulled, the date and day of the week can be corrected with a newly developed mechanism.
A distinctive design
Featuring a diameter of 42.5 millimeters and a test pressure of 12 bar, the ODYSSEUS CHRONOGRAPH is housed in a three-part stainless steel case that is durable enough to accompany its wearer even during sports and leisure activities. The brushed surfaces and chamfered edges create an impressive play of light and are echoed on the lugs and links of the solid stainless-steel bracelet, just as they are on the other members of the watch family. The dial of this limited edition chronograph, like that of previous ODYSSEUS models, features a special architecture that gives the impression of depth.
The black main dial has a textured inner surface, the white gold baton appliques are notched, and the seconds subdial is underlaid with concentric circles. The dial is set in a palladium bezel with a printed two-part minute scale around the outer rim. The fractional second scale is located on the outer rim, with the minute and second scales located in the center. The ODYSSEUS CHRONOGRAPH has a dynamic and sophisticated appearance that is complemented by the red chrono seconds hand and the red 12 o’clock number. Hour and minute hands in the signature Lange lancet shape stand out nicely against the dark dials of the ODYSSEUS family of watches. They, like the baton appliques’ inner faces, shine brightly.
The large date and day of the week displays also help to set this watch apart from others. The modern, digital aesthetics are based on the Five-Minute Clock in the Dresden Semper Opera, a historic masterpiece of Saxon watchmaking art that has deep ties to the A. Lange & Söhne story. The famous stage clock, which displayed the time digitally and was the work of Court Clockmaker Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes, was built for the opening of the Opera House in 1841, apprentice master and future father-in-law to Glashütte precision watchmaking pioneer Ferdinand Adolph Lange.
The proprietary path to perfection
The ODYSSEUS CHRONOGRAPH is powered by the L156.1 DATOMATIC caliber, the first automatic chronograph movement produced by the manufacturer. Date and automatic were the inspiration for the DATOMATIC attribute. The central rotor is partially black rhodium skeletonized, and the 950 platinum centrifugal mass guarantees effective winding. The mainspring barrel provides a maximum power reserve of 50 hours when fully wound. The oscillation system was built for maximum precision in timing. The balance, which is hand-engraved with a stylized wave pattern alluding to the water resistance of the watch and the possible applications in sports settings, was suspended beneath the balance bridge to achieve this. The balance beats at a frequency of 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour (4 hertz).
When it comes to making and finishing their movements, the A. Lange & Söhne watchmakers have always gone their own way. To ensure the highest degree of accuracy, the L156.1 DATOMATIC caliber is assembled twice. The hand-engraved balance bridge, gold chatons, and blued screws are just a few of the traditional touches that set this timepiece apart. In addition, the majority of the elaborate finishing is done by hand for all parts, even those that are hidden once the movement is assembled. The sapphire crystal caseback makes this visible.
“The ODYSSEUS CHRONOGRAPH symbolises the pioneering spirit of the manufactory, to explore previously undiscovered fields, to overcome obstacles, and to implement innovative technical solutions,” says Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid. “Inventiveness and creativity, two A. Lange & Söhne key areas of expertise, will continue to break the mould in traditional precision watchmaking.”