Presented last month at SIHH 2011 show in two choices of gold alloys, the new A. Lange & Sohne Saxonia Dual Time (refs. 385.026 & 385.032) is the first wristwatch in the Saxonia range of dressy timekeepers that happens to sport a GMT display. Not particularly interesting from the mechanical point, it is still a very good example of how an experienced industrial designer can turn such a mundane thing as a secondary hour hand into a true work of art.
Well, perhaps, I am a bit too enthusiastic about the way the GMT indicator is designed, but I still insist that this is so far one of the best-looking luxury timekeeper with a secondary time zone display.
Powered by Lange’s in-house Caliber L086.2 automatic movement, the watch features a standard for this type of gadgets dial layout, which makes it easy to grasp its readings with a momentary glance.
As you can see, unlike your normal, um, four-hander that features two hour hands (primary and secondary one,) a minute hand, as well as an optional seconds hand, this watch is actually a five-hander that, unlike some watches with fewer indicators, does a really good job at telling time in both time zones while still looking as elegant as it gets. To make this possible, German designers decided to use hands of the same shape, but with different finish.
It takes just a single glance to instantly understand that the hands in blued steel (given the brand’s reputation, I imagine that the hands are heat-blued, but don’t quote me on that) are responsible for telling you time in the secondary time zone: the one in the upper sub-dial is a basic 24-hour indicator that has a primary task of telling you whether it is night or day in the place of your interested, while the other tells you what time it is exactly.
The hand that displays time in your current time zone looks the same, but is either rhodium-plated (for the version in 18-carat white gold, ref. 385.026) or is crafted from beautifully colored rose gold alloy (Ref. 385.032) with the common minute hand featuring the same finish.
To somehow counterbalance the 24-hour sub-dial, Lange used a subsidiary small seconds counter at 6 o’clock that matches color of the hands in the primary time zone. A result? Well, as a result we have one of the easiest to read Dual Time watch on the market!
Unlike most watches that have their GMT hands operated with the same setting crown, this model features a pair of push-buttons at 8 and 10 o’clock that are used to move the hour hand incrementally either clockwise or counterclockwise. The same approach uses the Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin for its Dual Time family of GMT watches although the mechanisms, as far as I know, are not related.
Perhaps, my only complaint about this movement is that it beats at a relatively slow pace of just 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour: if you are more used to current de facto standard of 28,800 vph (or even are spoiled by Zenith’s super-fast 36,000 vph calibers,) you may find the somewhat jerky way the small seconds hand moves kind of irritating. On the other hand, some may find this feature acceptable and maybe even lovely in its own archaic way.
The elegant timepiece is presented in a mid-sized case 40 mm in diameter and is only 9.10 mm in height that makes it suitable for basically any wrist and for any type of formal dress. At the time of writing of this brief review, the watch was available either in white gold (Ref. 385.026) or rose gold (Ref. 385.032) versions. Predictably, the pricing for both versions will be virtually the same. The rose gold version will be offered at a recommended street price of $25,400 and the white gold version will be sold at $26,600, which looks like a pretty good value to yours truly.
Photos: A. Lange & Sohne
A. Lange & Sohne Saxonia Dual Time automatic watch specification
Price: $25,400 / $26,600
Movement: Automatic, Caliber L086.2, 31 jewels, 268 components, 30.40 mm in diameter, 4.60 mm in height, decorated and assembled by hand, Made in Germany
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, GMT
Power reserve: 72 hours
Case material: White gold or Rose gold
Bezel material: White gold or Rose gold
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 40.00 mm
Lug width: No data
Case height: 9.10 mm
Dial: Solid silver
Hands: Rhodium-plated steel and rose gold
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Authentic leather with color-matched stitching and pin buckle in white or rose gold
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire