Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Watch in Focus – A Lange & Sohne 1815 Up Down

The original 1815 Up/Down from A. Lange & Söhne was stunning, no doubt about it. It still is. But theres something about the new Up/Down that makes the old one seem not quite as I remembered it. Lets start with the case: at 36mm, the original was no bicep-builder. Its a delicate dress watch, as it should be. The new Up/Down, however, has inflated by 3mm to 39mm, and it makes all the difference. Not too big to be ostentatious, not so small as to offend current tastes. Side by side, the original feels a bit . . . diminutive.

A. Lange and Sohne
The dial of the 1815 is perfectly balanced due to the solid silver construction and millimetre-perfect design

Then we have the dial. On the original, two sub-dials relay seconds and power reserve; nothings changed there, yet on the new Up/Down there are a few differences that knock the old down a few pegs. The Gangreserve nomenclature, for example: its absence on the updated design reveals its awkward lopsidedness. The dash of red on the new highlights the colourlessness of the old. The larger size of the sub-dials on the new gives the older sibling a slightly boss-eyed look (although some may not like the nibbled 5 and 7 markers that result).

A. Lange and Sohne Up Down
The power reserve dial is the hero here—with three days to a full tank, its an easy manual wind to live with

And its not all in the appearance. The rather paltry 45-hour power reserve of the older variant has been expanded to a more usable 72 hours, which, bearing in mind this is a manual-wind watch, makes the new model all the more usable. Two additional screwed gold chatons and the exposure of the winding mechanism through the German silver three-quarter plate also lends the younger watch a more pleasing appearance.

A. Lange and Sohne Watches
The back is just as captivating as the front, designed and finished with in the traditional Glashütte way

Its all these improvements, however slight they may seem in isolation, that make the new Up/Down so much better than the old. As a complete package, its greater in almost every way, taking an already fantastic template and improving with the benefit of hindsight. What results is a watch that could be described aswhisper itas close to perfect as it is possible to be. The nibbled numbers I can live with, the manual wind has a nostalgic quality and leaves the movement unobscured (and the watch plenty thin), and the . . . well, thats it really. I suppose it could be cheaper, but it shouldnt. This is one of those watches that, if you can afford it, you should buy it, because its worth every penny. It abounds with details that get better the closer they are inspected, is proportioned so well it should have scientists studying it to plunder whatever mathematical formula binds it together. Its simple without being plain, luxurious without being flashy.

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