Forewords: I'm doing something I don't like ie speaking about watches I haven't seen... but we don't have any other option!
Not surprisingly, Lange & Söhne presented few novelties in the very particular context of this 2020 edition of Watches & Wonders. It was to be expected. In any case, the manufacture from Saxony produces few watches and the number of novelties remains limited each year ... except last year which was more prolific, due to the celebration of the 25th anniversary. In addition, the presentation of the Odysseus took place in October so there was strictly speaking no real urgency to communicate on many new products.
Lange & Söhne thus unveils 3 references, all 3 in white gold: a new version of the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater and two versions of the Odysseus with either a rubber strap or a leather strap.
The special feature of the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is that it offers a midnight blue dial which looks very promising. In a way, I find again the spirit of the first white gold Zeitwerk which stood out for the strong contrast between the "time bridge" which links the different displays and the dial. In addition, by using white gold, this Zeitwerk benefits from a material, in my opinion, better suited to sound performance than platinum. I hope to have the opportunity to see and hear this magnificent watch offered at a price that I find delusional, however: 449,000 euros. Admittedly, it is a minute repeater, certainly the complication is combined with digital displays (which requires a lot of technical work to obtain perfect synchronization) but this price range is closer to that of Grandes Sonneries than Minute Repeaters. The white gold Zeitwerk Minute Repeater will be available in a limited series of 30 pieces only in the brand's boutiques.
There is more to say about the two Odysseus
. I'm already talking about two Odysseus and not one ... but for a very simple reason: according to the strap, they don't have the same reference! I don't think it's a very good idea. At almost 40,000 euros (39,500 euros to be precise), it would have been appropriate to sell the watch with the two straps. And is this a sign of a difficulty in switching from one to the other? To be checked. But at a time when customers increasingly want simple, easy-to-live pieces, this choice from Lange & Söhne is surprising. So yes, Patek or Rolex or Audemars do not deliver their watches with interchangeable straps. But some others do ... and no need to go very far: Vacheron Constantin, in the same group, does it with the Overseas.
In any case, from what I see, the rubber strap goes very well with the watch and I am more convinced by the outcome than with the leather strap. It remains to be seen how the pin buckle will look because I haven't seen any picture of this buckle.
The rubber strap version is my favorite:
And I'm less convinced by this one. I think that the flat rendering of the rubber strap gives a more slender style which is welcome:
The fact that the Odysseus is available in white gold is not trivial. It is again a neutral color which does not in fact contrast with steel. And that's all the subtlety: Lange & Söhne comes back to the precious metal as if to enhance the steel model which then appears more exceptional (in the sense of rare). It is well thought out I think.
Even if the case remains neutral in color, the two Odysseus in white gold are clearly distinguished from the steel version. This is obviously due to the presence of the steel bracelet of the latter but not only. The shades of Odysseus in white gold are soft and gray, like a kind of monochrome interpretation. This combination of white gold and gray atmosphere is confirmed at Lange & Söhne as we had seen previously with the Triple Split or the Zeitwerk Date. I really like it because it gives a very refined and elegant style. Be careful, however, not to define a style that would lack energy. And in the context of a more all-around watch like the Odysseus, I have a preference for the more dynamic blue of the steel version. Note that according to the photos, the 60 of the minute scale of the white gold versions appears in gray or red. I think it's the latter color that will be chosen.
The 60 is displayed in red on the close-up pictures:
The interpretation of the dials varies according to the versions. On the steel version, the central area is decorated and the peripheral area has a circular finish. On the white gold versions, the central zone is smooth and the peripheral zone is decorated with stripes. The result looks very pleasant to me and I find the whole dial harmonious and elegant ... ultimately consistent with the material. Of course, from a mechanical and performance point of view, all versions are similar.
So the only question I have is whether Lange & Söhne will eventually offer a rubber strap for the steel version. Nothing is less sure. The brand has communicated a lot about the fact that the steel Odysseus was designed to be worn with its original bracelet. And the alternative solutions tested by customers have not been very convincing. We'll see... but I very much hope that Lange & Söhne will end up offering this rubber bracelet only to give customers the choice ... and also to justify in some way the Lego structure of this bracelet.
Of course, one can easily imagine that Lange & Söhne will offer other new products during the year to communicate and give booster shots on a regular basis. In any case, in the circumstances and given the configuration of the manufacture, the release of 3 references for Watches & Wonders 2020 seemed to me to be the right decision.