The Odysseus Datomatic in white gold is one of the two new watches presented by Lange & Söhne in April as part of the 2020 edition of Watches & Wonders. The release of such a watch is hardly surprising. If the first Odysseus Datomatic was the first steel watch from the Saxon manufacture to join the permanent collection, no one expected that the following ones would be produced with the same material. The reasoning is simple: steel must remain exceptional in the brand's catalogue and if the inaugural watch of the new line took advantage of this material, it is precisely because it was an event. Of course, I don't have a crystal ball and I don't know if other Odysseus in steel will be produced. But I am convinced that they will remain rare in any case.
What is more surprising, however, is that Lange & Söhne took advantage of the presentation of the white gold version to offer a different dial finish. Indeed, the latter has not been the subject of a simple colour change. Details have been revised to create a clear difference with the steel version. In a way, it is an expression of the manufacture's care to detail.
In terms of the case, the organisation of the dial and the movement, the Odysseus Datomatic in white gold is similar to the one in steel. I thus find again this asymmetrical case with a diameter of 40.5mm, whose shape derives from the functions. It is the lateral push-pieces used to quickly set the date and the week day that create this protrusion on the right side of the case. I really like this asymmetry which gives a lot of character to the watch. Moreover, the dial being symmetrical, I think that if the case had also been symmetrical, the whole would have been too consensual, even boring in the context of a watch that wants to be more casual. The objective for Lange & Söhne is to avoid giving the impression that the Odysseus Datomatic is a simple adaptation of existing models. This is fully achieved: the watch perfectly embodies the style of the brand while distinguishing itself from the rest of the catalogue.
The two windows also bring their own singularity and, not enough mention is made of it, I really appreciate the size of the sub-dial of the second hand which occupies almost the entire lower zone of the dial: it is the proof of the use of a movement adapted to the case. This movement is the brand new L155.1 caliber inaugurated with the Odysseus Datomatic in steel. It is an automatic caliber with a central rotor whose power reserve is not impressive (about fifty hours) but which is compensated by an excellent winding efficiency that I have been able to appreciate these last weeks with the steel model on the wrist. The presentation of the movement, identical in both versions, is adapted to the more versatile approach of the Odysseus Datomatic. The decoration and the quality of the finishes respect the Lange & Söhne standards but the more sober style of the winding mass is welcome. In any case, I appreciate the fact that this rotor has a peripheral segment in platinum and that the balance wheel bridge is both cross-through and asymmetrical. The movement's own diameter (32.9mm) makes it generously occupy the case, which is a good point. On the other hand, I would have liked the central plate to be more open. Finally, note that the frequency of the movement is 4hz and it is the only one in this case in the Lange & Söhne movement family.
The Odysseus Datomatic in white gold differs from the steel version by 3 elements: the range of colours, the finishing of the dial and the use of a leather or rubber strap. To evoke them, I will answer two key questions.
Between the Odysseus Datomatic in white gold and the one in steel, which one do I prefer from an aesthetic point of view?
I had the chance to observe the two watches side by side. And I must admit that I have a slight preference for the white gold version. I really like the colour palette used, which is dominated by a sober and elegant grey (grey is becoming a very trendy colour at Lange & Söhne). Moreover, the finish of the dial emphasizes this colour. We find ourselves in the opposite situation of the steel version. For the latter, it is the central zone of the dial that offers a small decorative effect that creates a contrast with the peripheral zone on which the indexes are located. With the white gold version, it is the opposite. The peripheral zone is decorated with fine striations that I find very refined and that can also be found around the second hand. The whole seemed more elaborated to me (the striations bring nice relief effects) and we have to pay tribute to Lange & Söhne for having adapted this decorative approach of the dial to the case material. Moreover, depending on the light, the grey can take on warmer shades and I was very pleasantly surprised by the range of colours that can appear.
The leather strap (I didn't see the rubber strap) obviously also contributes to the elegance of the whole, even if its fastening system may seem a bit strange. The two central elements bite on the strap and personally I'm not a fan of the aesthetics that the end piece has been maintained. Afterwards, I understand this choice from a practical point of view. Because of the shape of the lugs, this system allows a better positioning of the strap and makes it more flexible. It also takes the same shape as the steel bracelet and once on the wrist, the general rendering of the Odysseus Datomatic is very geometrical with an excellent fit. On the other hand, it is necessary to integrate the fact that once the watch is put on the wrist, a space is created between the bracelet and the end piece which personally doesn't bother me but which can surprise.
Surprisingly, Lange & Söhne presented two references of its white gold model depending on the type of bracelet. I am convinced that, given the spirit of the watch, its water-resistance of 120 metres, it is better to favour the rubber strap, which moreover makes the watch more original in a Lange context.
In any case, I was very seduced by the presentation of the dial of this Odysseus in white gold and by its colours. It nicely complements the steel model by distinguishing itself clearly from it from an aesthetic point of view.
Between the Odysseus Datomatic in white gold and the steel model, which is the most relevant?
I am the proud owner of the steel version. I know for a fact that the bracelet of this version has provoked a lot of comments, most of them negative. But one thing is certain: it is very comfortable to wear and the fine adjustment system on the clasp is a real joy.
After having seen the Odysseus Datomatic in white gold, I am convinced: if I have an aesthetic preference for the latest model, I find that the Odysseus Datomatic makes more sense in steel and with its bracelet. There are several reasons for this. First of all, Lange & Söhne wanted to make a versatile watch and steel is a much more suitable material. The water-resistance of 120 meters invites you to enjoy it even in water, and this in a way eliminates the need for a leather strap. Moreover, the fine adjustment of the bracelet is not a gadget. It allows the watch to be worn with optimal comfort. The Odysseus Datomatic in white gold comes with a simple pin buckle. And the fact that the steel bracelet creates a lot of strong comments has a virtue: it contributes to the identity and character of the watch.
Finally, I don't know what Lange & Söhne's sales strategy will be for the white gold version. But the fact that the steel version is reserved primarily for the brand's loyal customers makes it more inaccessible and therefore... more desirable. This is human nature. In any case, in a collection logic, the steel Odysseus ticks many boxes: first with a 4hz movement, first in steel to join the permanent collection... it seems to me to be the most logical version. So, from the point of view of the daily use and its role in a collection, the steel Odysseus is more relevant. Above all, it has no equivalent in the catalogue, whereas the Odysseus in white gold can be put in the balance with other models in precious metal.
Nevertheless, the Odysseus in white gold is a very beautiful watch. I was seduced by its execution, its dial, its colours, its refined presentation. But in the end its qualities can become a defect: they put it back in a more usual position of a precious metal watch, certainly it remains casual but in a "city" context, whereas the steel version is at the same time more singular, more versatile and more faithful to the initial ambition. The price difference is also an element to be taken into account (10,000 euros between the two versions). In any case, it should be stressed that Lange & Söhne has taken care to adapt the style of each watch to the material used, which is appreciable.
+ the presentation of the dial
+ the winding efficiency of the movement
+ the overall quality of the finishes
- the aesthetic integration of the leather strap
- two references (leather strap and rubber strap): wouldn't it have been easier to provide two straps with one watch?