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Hands on review of the Lange & Söhne Odysseus

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An important event was required (if not mandatory) to celebrate fittingly the 25th anniversary of Lange & Söhne. And the presentation of the new Odysseus watch, the first of the 6th family of the catalog is a milestone one. The 24th of October, 1994 will remain for ever the date of the rebirth of the brand, the day when were presented the first 4 watches which were concretely testifying the restart of the activity of the manufacture. The 24th of October, 2019 may become a significant new date in the history of Lange & Söhne. Because the Odysseus is more than a watch. Or rather, it materializes the beginning of a new page for the brand.

The Odysseus renews the Lange & Söhne style while remaining recognizable:


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There are many reasons why the Odysseus is a highlight for Lange & Söhne and not only because it is the first stainless steel watch to join the catalog since that rebirth date. And let me insist on this point: if Lange & Söhne has presented some steel pieces (a Tourbillon PLM,  several Lange One, the famous 1815 Homage to Walter Lange and the no less famous 1815 "service watches" that were not sold), the Odysseus is a watch that will be available outside the context of a limited edition. Be careful however: this doesn't mean that it will be more accessible both in terms of price and of its actual availability. Its price of 28,000 euros (official price with taxes in Germany) is almost double that of the most affordable watch in the collection (the handwind Saxonia in 35mm ) and its limited production will de facto lead to a very slow delivery.

I really like the different textures of the dial:


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But behind all these explanations, I especially want to remember one thing relative to the context: thanks to this watch, Lange & Söhne rediscovers the spirit of the first days, when each new case led to the definition of a new movement and each new watch had a particular aesthetic dimension. In a way, the Odysseus is like a kind of a new Lange One, not aesthetically but symbolically. It is powered by a brand new movement, the L155.1 Datomatic, its design is unusual and it offers a large display of the weekdays in the same way that the Lange One introduced the double window big date. When I discovered this watch for the first time, I was surprised. I didn't expect that. And that's great news. Nothing is worse than a watch that fully meets our expectations in a way. We think we could almost design it by ourselves. The pleasure then becomes ephemeral and very quickly, it generates boredom. On the other hand, the unexpected causes strong emotions, positive or negative and can even lead to a process of slow seduction. This is what happens with the Odysseus. I would lie by saying that I fell in love at first sight. The feeling of surprise prevailed. I even told the Lange & Söhne team that I found the watch "interesting" ... you know, the polite way of saying that we don't really like ... And then I put the watch on the wrist and my point of view started to change.

I then began to appreciate the different textures of the dial, the perfect definition of its dominant color that can go from midnight blue to gray blue, the dial lay-out, both odd and contemporary, with the two large displays which are aligned horizontally. Then the shape of the bracelet when on the wrist gives to the whole watch a geometric style that creates a harmonious mix between the circle (the bezel and the inner circle of the dial), the half-cushion (the right-hand side of the watch ) and the straight lines (the bracelet).

The Odysseus is a geometric watch that plays with different shapes:


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That's all the magic of the Odysseus: I love it more and more every time I look at the pictures. More than its aesthetics, it is also the roadmap followed by Lange & Söhne that I like. This watch is certainly the first true excursion of the Saxon manufacture in the world of sport chic pieces. Some models touched it in a certain way (the Grand Lange One Luminous with its calf strap and luminous hands for example) but the Odysseus really enters this universe because it can be worn in any circumstance: the steel bracelet and the water resistance of 120 meters allow it. But, and this is the key point, the Odysseus remains above all a real Lange & Söhne watch. It's very easy to check this statement: just hide the name of the brand and still, we guess without difficulty where it does come from.

It seems to be a detail but it is a real strength. While many rumors circulated in the market about the upcoming release of a Lange &  Söhne watch in steel, many feared that the watch would join the long list of watches with integrated bracelet inspired by the icons of the 70s.

The L155.1 Datomatic movement generously occupies the case:

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The Odysseus has a lot more ambition. It takes inspiration from the trajectory of the manufacture since 1994 and certainly not from Genta or the 70s. It is definitely a real and contemporary Lange & Söhne watch, looking to the future.

The Lange & Söhne character manifests itself in many aesthetic, mechanical and ergonomic details.

1) the aesthetic approach

The dial is obviously the most visible element that connects the Odysseus to the Lange & Söhne atmosphere. The logo at the top of the dial, the big date, the Alpha hands (this time  they are luminous) are usual components of the brand identity. However, the dial of the Odysseus is singular. The detail that changes everything is the presence of a large window at 9 o'clock, aligned horizontally with the big date. It reinforces the symmetry of the dial while giving it a touch of originality. Note that the figures and letters are drawn on blue backgrounds. The displays are perfectly integrated while remaining very present visually speaking. The perceived quality of the brass dial is excellent thanks to the numerous relief effects (several layers, the peripheral flange, applied indexes) and different textures. The central zone of the dial and that of the sub-dial of the second hand thus provide an irregular rendering that breaks the uniformity of the whole. The result is very convincing and welcome in a less formal context. The blue dial is very well dosed. Blue is, despite its fashion effect, one of the most difficult colors to interpret in the watchmaking world. The blue of the Odysseus is very beautiful and subtle, and takes full advantage of the light conditions to change its appearance, from gray blue to midnight blue.

The watch becomes more refined and elegant when put on the wrist:


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The case has a diameter of 40.5mm. Its thickness is 11.1mm. The watch is slender but not flat which is a good point in this more casual context. I recognize the typical shape of the Lange & Söhne lugs ... but seen from the front. Because for the rest, the manufacture took the opportunity to reinterpret its codes. The case is slightly asymmetrical because of the presence of elegantly integrated pushers around the crown. In fact, I have the impression to observe a half round half cushion case. The design work is very successful due to the presence of many sharp angles that give a lot of character. In any case, the size seemed to me to be the good one: it is big enough to integrate the two displays in a harmonious way and to be in conformity with the purpose of the piece and sufficiently contained so that the watch remains wearable and refined.

 
But, of course, it is the bracelet that defines the singularity of the Odysseus. First of all, given its width at the level of the end pieces, it is imposing under our eyes. Then, it doesn't look like the gold or platinum bracelets we had seen from Lange & Söhne in the past even though the principle of two rows of finer links had already existed. Finally, it draws many straight lines that contrast with the circular bezel and the mid-cushion shape of the case. Thanks to its excellent flexibility, it effectively wraps the wrist. On the other hand, the aesthetic integration of the big clasp didn't please me. Perhaps there was better to do on this point but the manufacture has privileged the practical side. This bracelet, because of its fastening system visible by flipping over the watch, is not a real "integrated" bracelet. The Odysseus was designed with it  but it gives the impression that future pieces of the collection could use leather straps. Lange & Söhne has had a very "Rolex" approach to the method: the bracelet is efficient, comfortable and changeable/scalable. So, the few visual concessions are more easily accepted.


2) the mechanical approach


As I mentioned it earlier, I found with the Odysseus the spirit of the early years of Lange & Söhne. An impactful movement was required to animate the new watch and the caliber L155.1 Datomatic belongs to this category undoubtedly. Its presentation is faithful to the style of the brand (blued screws, gold chatons, Glashütte stripes) and its finish is, as always irreproachable (nice engraving, neat beveling). But to tell you the truth ... everything else has changed. First of all its frequency which is 4hz which differs from the traditional 2,5hz and 3hz of the rest of the collection. Then, it has an asymmetrical crossing bridge (which replaces the balance cock) that I find very pretty and which firmly holds the particular balance of the Odysseus. This balance wheel has 4 screws that are integrated into the rim with 4 U-shaped recesses. Nothing sticks out what decreases the air resistance during the balance wheel oscillations and thus improves energy consumption and performance. The power reserve is 50 hours which is correct, no more, especially according to current standards of contemporary movements. I love the black rhodium finish of the winding mass that suits the style of the Odysseus and makes the movement more sober. Finally, the diameter of the movement is 32.9mm. It is very nice to see a big movement in such a case. The caliber L155.1 Datomatic is therefore faithful to the spirit of the manufacture but also makes its codes evolve. It is thus consistent with the aesthetic approach. On the down side, my understanding is that there is no instantaneous date / weekday change system and I regret it.

I really like the finish of the winding mass:

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3) the ergonomic approach


 
The Odysseus aims to accompany its owner in all circumstances. It is not enough to make a steel watch to meet this criterion. It must also be easy to live with. Lange & Söhne responded to this challenge with 3 key points:

- the water resistance is 120 meters. The performance is excellent because the thickness of the watch remains measured,
- the side and discreet pushers make it easy to set the dates and weekdays,
- and the clasp features a clever fine-tuning system for the length of the bracelet, up to 7mm. Indeed, just press the disc that bears the Lange & Söhne signature to make the adjustment without removing the watch. It's very ingenious and very practical.

The flexibility of the bracelet and the optimal readability are also to be credited to the Odysseus which undoubtedly becomes the easiest Lange & Söhne watch to live with on a daily basis.

The clever clasp, maybe not very beautiful but very effective and practical:


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So, what is my final assessment of this strategic novelty for the manufacture? Once the moment of the initial surprise passed, I began to appreciate the watch. I am convinced in any case that Lange & Söhne had the right approach. The Odysseus has its own identity and especially it shows commitment in the context of a watchmaking offer which is too often calculated and bland. The Odysseus is not going to please everyone and it is much better. I must admit for example that I am not totally seduced by the aesthetics of the bracelet (but I'm getting used with it) and the integration of the clasp. But comfort and practicality prevail.

I got used to the aesthetic rendering of the bracelet:


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In any case, thanks to this watch, the Lange & Söhne has demonstrated that it is able to renew itself from both aesthetic and mechanical points of view. Just for that, the Odysseus is important. It infuses the brand with a dynamic and that's also the reason why it's a watch that any serious Lange & Söhne collector must own. Because it symbolizes a new beginning. The fact that it is made in steel is not for me the determining criterion even if the material is consistent with the use and purpose of the watch. It is this affirmed ambition and the fact that Lange & Söhne dared that seduced me. The price is, unsurprisingly, consisten with the standards of the brand and the segment in which it evolves. 28,000 euros (price including VAT in Germany), are obviously a significant price for a steel watch. But Lange & Söhne didn't release a "mere" 3 hand watch with a movement already seen 50 times. I even think that from the strict watchmaking point of view, the Odysseus offers much more than other competing watches.

The color of the dial changes according to the light conditions:

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On the other hand, the Odysseus will not be easy to acquire. Lange & Söhne doesn't offer it in the context of a limited series but the pace of production will be reduced. I imagine that the customers served in priority will be the collectors of the brand and that others will have to wait ... or position themselves later on the other models of this new collection. In any case, rarely a novelty Lange & Söhne would have made as much talk about it in the days leading up to its release. The teasing from the manufacture has elicited many comments and I bet that the watch will do the same. Just for that, the Odysseus is a success because it wakes up Lange & Söhne from the Saxon quietude. Emotions, surprise, spice, a bowl of fresh air, finally things are moving at Lange & Söhne and this is great news. Customers were asking for this impetus and the brand needed it.


The Odysseus is a watch that captures the light:


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Main data:

Movement L155.1 Datomatic, 312 parts, 4hz frequency, 50 hour power reserve
Case diameter: 40,5mm
Case thickness: 11,1mm
Movement diameter: 32,9mm
Movement thickness: 6,2mm
Stainless steel case and bracelet
Water resistance: 120m
Price: 28.000 euros with taxes (German price)

Pros:
+ finally Lange & Söhne is bringing something really new
+ the quality of execution and care to detail are faithful to the brand
+ the lay-out and the finishes of the L155.1 Datomatic movement
+ the beautiful color of the dial
+ a practical and easy-going watch

Cons:
- the aesthetic integration of the clasp
- no instantaneous date / weekday change system

Fr.Xavier






This message has been edited by cazalea on 2019-10-24 05:38:25

Comments:
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edo.k October 24th, 2019-05:07
The bracelet is too wide... dial is amazing... Thanks for great review...
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foversta October 24th, 2019-13:14
Thanks for your comment!  
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MCG (Markus) October 24th, 2019-14:25
I agree! 👍🏻  
jack johnson October 24th, 2019-05:09
Thank you for the great review, dear FX! As to the watch itself - I say Nay. The bracelet seems to be heavily based on the IWC pilot's watch bracelet construction-wise (links removal system, clasp) and is not appealing to me aesthetically.
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foversta October 24th, 2019-13:14
Thanks Jack!  
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dedestexhes October 24th, 2019-05:11
Thx for this hands on review FX, a lot to digest. Will have to read this evening!  
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foversta October 24th, 2019-13:14
Thanks for your comment. I hope you will see the watch soon.  
Codes October 24th, 2019-05:16
Not sure about that bracelet... Also surprised there are no models with other complications like power reserve, dual time, etc...
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foversta October 24th, 2019-13:15
It is the first watch of a collection. We will see what will come next in the future...  
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shortys home October 24th, 2019-05:17
Thanks a lot for your real life photos that reveal more than the press renderings... ... my initial feedback on the watch is that I like case, dial and mvmt, not a fan of the bracelet at all. This new Lange should look great on a sporty strap, though. Cheers Henrik
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