A. Lange & Söhne Celebrates 25 Years of the Datograph

This is a pretty big year for A. Lange & Söhne. We’ve hit 25 years of the Datograph, which made its debut in 1999, and Lange is celebrating with a pair of very special limited editions of their iconic chronograph. One of them is truly off the wall, and we’ll get to that next week. For now, we’ll take a look at the Datograph Up/Down Limited Edition in white gold, with a blue dial. It’s a perfectly lovely example of the watch that many Lange collectors will insist put the brand on the horological map, and a strong counterpoint to the other Datograph that we’ll tell you more about soon. 

First, it’s crucial to understand the importance of the Datograph not just in Lange’s collection, but in high end watchmaking writ large. When it was first unveiled in 1999, Lange was a young brand, only five years into their relaunch. They had earned the respect of connoisseurs in the late 1990s, but the introduction of their first in-house chronograph caliber with the Datograph took them to another level. This was years before Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet would launch their own in-house chronograph calibers, in an era where using supplied calibers from chronograph was common for brands at every level, including the absolute upper tier. It can be argued that the Datograph ushered in an arms race of sorts that would find many of the highest end watchmaking manufactures in a constant state of one-upmanship that goes on to this day. 


There have been a variety of Datographs over the years, but never one in white gold. A metal debut for Lange’s most legendary watch is a good choice for a limited edition built around an anniversary, and this reference is sure to excite longtime collectors. It’s hard to imagine this will be anyone’s first Datograph. Surely, Lange will restrict access to clients who have demonstrated an appreciation for the watch over many years (the price is listed as “upon request,” another clue that the brand has a tight grip over the allocation process). In any case, this combination of a white metal with a blue dial made from solid silver is both incredibly classic and refreshingly new, given that we’ve never seen exactly this combination for the Datograph before. 

Aficionados will surely debate the small details here, like the use of baton indices rather than Roman numerals, like we saw on the original 1999 Datograph. But the bones of this watch are indisputable. It’s a design that is universally regarded as something approaching perfect. Note the position, for example, of the subdials, and how they sit just below 9:00 and 3:00, to make room for the large date at 12:00. The way this creates space and symmetry on the dial is about as good as it gets in a chronograph, and is a perfect example of how Lange does things. The movement, of course, determines the position of each of these components of the dial, and Lange designed the movement with the dial’s aesthetic in mind. One of the benefits, surely, of doing it yourself in 1999 would have been the freedom to create a totally new design language, and that’s exactly what Lange did. 

The caliber in this limited edition is the  L951.6, a descendant of the L951.1 found in the original Datograph. It’s quite simply one of the most visually striking movements that is serially made, constructed from German silver with elaborate hand finishing based on old school German watchmaking traditions. It fills the 41mm case beautifully. 

The Datograph Up/Down Limited Edition is limited to just 125 pieces. A. Lange & Söhne

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.