Glashutte’s finest chronograph gets a ‘ghost-spec’ makeover
By Chris Hall
Typically so firmly tied to classical Saxon watchmaking traditions, there are times when A. Lange & Sohne nevertheless connects with the 21st century – and when it does, it really connects. The “Lumen” moniker first appeared on one of its watches back in 2010, when the Zeitwerk (already the brand’s most modern design) was given a glow-in-the dark alter ego. Since then, we have seen the same treatment given to the Grand Lange 1 and Grand Lange 1 Moonphase, in 2012 and 2016 respectively.
Now, we have a Datograph Up/Down Lumen to join the set, and it is no exaggeration to say that it is the most emphatic execution of the idea to date. The standard Datograph Up/Down (if ‘standard’ is a word you deploy about such a phenomenally fine chronograph) has been illuminated from head to toe, the end result being a wonderfully spectral take on classic chronograph design.
The dial has been replaced with a disc of ‘smoked’ sapphire crystal, treated specifically to allow as much UV light as possible to penetrate, while blocking out a reasonable amount of visual light. That’s important, because it preserves the overall dark dial that the watch was born with, but allows the Luminova around the edge of the dial and on the date wheel to charge up. The tachymeter scale, seconds track and brand logo are all picked out in Luminova, with what looks like a solid disc of the material around the periphery of the dial. The date is given the Lumen treatment in two ways: the tens digits disc is itself coated in Luminova, as you can see. The disc bearing the ‘ones’, i.e. the numbers from 0-9, is transparent however, and relies on a blank tile of Luminova beneath the oversized date window to give the same effect.
It must presumably have been thought that an entire date ring of lume would conflict too much with the other elements on the dial – the chronograph minutes and running seconds subdials are both coated in Luminova; the hour and minute hands are lume-filled, and the chronograph seconds hand is totally coated. Even the words “Datograph Flyback” are picked out on the sapphire dial in Luminova. And last but not least, the power reserve indicator – which identifies this as an Up/Down rather than a standard Datograph – is also fully coated in Luminova. We did say it was a thorough execution of the idea.
For all that it sounds as though A. Lange & Sohne has thrown the kitchen sink at the Datograph Up/Down “Lumen”, you only have to look at it to know that’s not the case. This works very well, with sufficient balance between light and dark. And of course it helps that the proportions of the watch remain unchanged: the 41mm x 13.4mm case (here in platinum only) is a real sweet spot for a complicated watch.
And just because no article on the A. Lange & Sohne Datograph is allowed, by law, to be published without a picture of that incredible movement, here is your reminder that away from all the drama on the dial, the workings remain utterly top drawer.
The Datograph Up/Down “Lumen” will be produced in a limited edition of 200 pieces only, priced at £84,000.